Welcoming the 24th and 26th Toyama Cup Winners to Toyama and the Oregon Cup English Presentation Contest

Every year, in cooperation with the Japan-America Society of Oregon, Toyama Prefecture holds the Toyama Cup, a speech contest for university students studying Japanese in Oregon. The winner of the highest level is awarded a week-long visit in Toyama by the prefectural government.

Rey Takahashi, left, and Ada Martin, right.

Due to COVID-19, the winner of the 24th Toyama Cup was unable to visit Toyama in 2020, but this year, not only did the Prefecture welcome Rey Takahashi, the 24th Toyama Cup winner, but also Ada Martin, the winner of the 26th Toyama Cup from this year. Both Rey and Ada are seniors at Willamette University and, after finishing their Fall 2022 study abroad program at Tokyo International University, were able to visit Toyama for a week in mid-December.

Not only that, but the two were also able to attend Toyama Prefecture’s very first Oregon Cup English Presentation Contest. This hybrid contest, co-sponsored by Toyama Prefecture and Oregon State, allowed university students from Toyama to compete in teams to present on the theme of “Creating the Future with SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals)”. However, leading up to the contest, each team also had one or two Oregon members joining in: students from universities in Oregon or Southern Washington were invited to connect with the teams online and advise them on their English and their presentations. In the end, 11 teams from the University of Toyama, Toyama University of International Studies, and Toyama Prefectural University, competed on the day of the contest, December 18, 2022. The judges were Consul Naoto Shigehisa from the Consular Office of Japan in Portland, Ms. Amanda Welker from Business Oregon, Ms. Masami Nishishiba from Portland State University, Ms. Kyoko Miyahara from the Toyama General Education Center, and Ms. Ayano Fujita from Apollo English Academy. The Gold Prize went to University of Toyama’s Team Battle Buddies for their presentation “Advancing Plastic Bottle Recycling-For Our Beautiful Oceans-“.

The Toyama Cup winners Rey and Ada were invited as special guests to the contest, along with Vice Governor Mika Yokota and President Akihiro Kitamura of the Toyama America-Japan Society. While President Kitamura awarded the Toyama America-Japan Society Award to University of Toyama’s Team Normal People for their presentation “Make it Normal,” Rey and Ada gave feedback to all of the participating teams and even had a chance to interact with the students during the break. Of course, they were also able to meet and speak with Vice Governor Yokota and President Kitamura, the latter of whom visited Oregon during last August’s friendship visit.

Vice Governor Yokota and President Akihiro Kitamura, left, with Rey and Ada.

After their appearance at the Oregon Cup, Ada and Rey visited the Toyama Glass Art Museum, and the following day, came to the Toyama Prefectural Office to pay a courtesy visit to Director-General Hiroshima, who also participated in the Oregon visit.

Rey and Ada were also taken to various tourist spots around the prefecture, including Iwasehama and the Toyama Prefectural Art Museum in Toyama City, Yatsuo Town, the wood-carving Inami Town along with Zuisenji Temple, and the Takaoka Great Buddha and Zuiryuji Temple in Takaoka City. While in Takaoka, they were also able to visit Nousaku Factory and even challenge themselves to a hands-on cast-metal workshop where they made and engraved their own tin plates.

However, since Rey and Ada arrived right at the start of a multi-day snowstorm, they were able to see Toyama in an entirely new light as part of western Japan’s yukiguni, or snow country. On the fourth day of their visit, they traveled to Gokayama and were able to see Toyama’s World Heritage Site blanketed in white. Both Rey and Ada were glad to have been able to come in winter and see the snow for themselves and even made a snowman.

One of the visit’s highlights was a river cruise through the Shogawa Gorge. While famous sites such as Tateyama and Kurobe Gorge are closed off in winter due to snow, Tonami City offers a year-round river boat running down the Shogawa River, complete with indoor seats that have heating for the winter months. The snow-covered mountains surrounding the river’s rich green waters put both winners in mind of Oregon more than anywhere else in Toyama. In Rey’s words, it was truly a “gorge-ous” experience.

Finally, since Ada and Rey are both JET Programme hopefuls, their last full day in Toyama had them accompany the Toyama Prefecture CIRs to a local high school visit, where they introduced Oregon in English and listened and gave feedback to student-made English presentations along with the CIRs. They were also able to meet two Toyama ALTs and hear about their expertise. We wish them all the best in their efforts to become JETs.

Now that all of the Toyama Cup winners have finally made it to the prefecture, we are excited to welcome next year’s winners and beyond, as well as to work together with Oregon for another successful Oregon Cup!

For more information, please visit: http://jaso.org/toyama-cup-2/


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s