Lauren Vicharelli, winner of the 2014 Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest, visits Japan

Lauren Vicharelli (center) at a Tateyama with Abram and Kristina

Originally written for the Vol.8-No.2 edition (Nov 28, 2014) of the Toyama Hot News e-newsletter.

From the 24th through the 30th of August, Lauren Vicharelli came to Toyama Prefecture, on an all-expenses-paid trip as her grand prize for winning the 18th annual Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest. A graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School, Lauren spoke about large difference in the number of lawyers between the US and Japan, and speculated on cultural background as a possible reason why there are more lawyers in the US.

Lauren being interviewed by local television during her visit to the Toyama Prefectural Office

This was not Lauren’s first time in Japan; in fact, while studying abroad, she visited one of Toyama’s most famous areas, the villages of Gokayama. During her return to Toyama, she traveled with Kristina Nekesheva, the winner of the Japanese Speech Contest held in Vladivostok, Russia. I had the pleasure of meeting them both when they came to the Toyama Prefectural Office for a courtesy call and interview with local news organizations. Lauren never missed a beat while talking with prefectural officials and responding to questions for the television interview – needless to say, her Japanese language skills are very impressive!

During the week, I accompanied them on a trip to the Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route, which was the first time for all of us to see Kurobe Dam. Lauren also helped me out as a guest in my English class for prefectural employees, and later in the evening she put her singing voice on display in a karaoke session.

Lauren has mentioned that she intends to stay connected with sister state relations through the Japan-America Society of Oregon. Her visit was a pleasure for all of us here in Toyama, and we certainly hope that she will continue to play a role in promoting our sister state relationship!