New Station Building Opens in Takaoka

Takaoka Station

Originally written for the Vol.8-No.1 edition (April 15, 2014) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

On March 29, the new building named “Curun Takaoka” opened at Takaoka Station in Takaoka, Toyama Prefecture. The name for this new entryway to downtown Takaoka comes from the Japanese word kurun which can mean both “Are you coming?” and “whirl around.” The amalgamation of letters in “Curun” also have English significance: “c” is for “creative,” “u” is for “urban,” and the word “run.”

Takaoka’s local industries can be seen in the building, such as the aluminum curtain wall. The first floor features a waiting room with displays showing departure information for JR lines, Man’yo Line (tram) and buses, a ticket booth, and a Man’yo Line station. While the Man’yo Line station was previously outside the Takaoka Station building, it is now more convenient for transferring passengers. The waiting room has a mailbox of the famous anime/manga character Doraemon. (Creator Fujiko F. Fujio is from Takaoka.)

A covered passageway on the second floor connects the station to Wing Wing Takaoka, a facility that includes a hotel, library, high school, and parking lot. Eight of the pillars have bronze panels with flower designs, a product of Takaoka copperware. The passageway also faces a cafe, bakery, convenience store, and a yakitori (skewered chicken) restaurant. Inside the building, there are shops that sell local products such as masu-zushi (pressed sushi), kamaboko (steamed processed fish cake), Takaoka copperware, and Takaoka lacquerware.

The underground level also has a variety of stores and restaurants. In addition, a stage area complete with audio and lighting equipment will be used for performances and events. More public areas will open on June 1, including gallery spaces.

“This facility is at a crossroads of public transportation such as trains, trams, and buses. In one year, the Hokuriku Shinkansen (bullet train) will begin stopping at Shin-Takaoka Station approximately 1.5 km (1 mi.) away. We hope to synergize to make downtown Takaoka a more vibrant place,” says a Takaoka Station Building representative.

Source (article and image): Toyama Just Now


Sister State Updates: Speech Contest, Oregon Visit Recap, and Welcoming Back Our Exchange Teacher

Originally written for the Vol.8-No.1 edition (April 15, 2014) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

2014 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest

The 18th annual Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest will be held on April 27 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the World Trade Center in Portland. Toyama Prefecture works with the Japan-America Society of Oregon (JASO) for this event ever year. College and university students studying Japanese in Oregon will be challenging themselves to give speeches in Japanese. The grand prize winner will be awarded a trip to Toyama!

The Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest is open to the public to watch free of charge. Please come and support local students in their journey toward mastering the Japanese language!

 For more information, please contact the Japan-American Society of Oregon (

2013 Speech Contest

Oregon Visit, March 9 – 14

From Sunday, March 9 to Friday, March 14, Mr. Koichi Aoyama, Assistant Director of the International Affairs & Japan Sea Region Policy Division, along with Ms. Taeko Yamamoto and I were in Oregon primarily to affirm contacts and promote the Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest.

 In addition to visiting Oregon colleges and universities (Lewis & Clark College, Willamette University, Oregon State University, Linfield College, Pacific University, Portland State University) and speaking with professors, instructors, and students there regarding the speech contest, we also paid visits to Business Oregon, the Japanese Consular Office, Travel Portland, the Oregon Department of Education, Sheridan Japanese School (see below), and the Japan-America Society of Oregon.

 Even with this busy schedule, we also had the opportunity to reconnect and share a meal with some of you who have ties to Toyama Prefecture, in a more casual setting. It was wonderful to see you!

 Thank you to everyone we met in Oregon, and we hope that you will continue to be actively involved in the sister state relationship.


Ms. Akiko Nakano Returns to Toyama

Just a couple of weeks after we visited Sheridan Japanese School, where Ms. Nakano –  the exchange teacher from Toyama Prefecture – was teaching Japanese language and culture, she completed her time there and returned to Toyama. In Ms. Nakano’s one and a half years in Oregon, she was able to visit many places in Oregon, experience American culture with her host family, act as an ambassador of Toyama in Oregon, make good friends, and inspire many students.

 While we are not able to send another exchange teacher to Oregon, we hope to stay in touch with the Oregon Department of Education to continue having sister state exchange opportunities in the education field.