Oregon Delegation Visit to Toyama


On June 12th – June 14th, 2016, a delegation of 11 people representing the State of Oregon’s government and economic spheres visited Toyama Prefecture to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the sister-state relationship. The delegation was led by Chris Harder, the director of Business Oregon, and also included Oregon Metro Council President Tom Hughes, as well as representatives from the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Portland General Electric, the City of Beaverton Economic Development Division, and South Coast Development Council, Inc. The delegation’s visit included regional tours and meetings, with one of the highlights being a Sunday visit of Toyama’s famous Tateyama-Kurobe Alpine Route, where deep fields of snow remain well into summer.

On Monday, June 13th, the delegation had a full day of meetings with Toyama businesses and government officials. In the morning, I accompanied the delegation on the way to business meetings, along with Ms. Sanno from the Toyama Prefecture International Affairs Division. The first item on the agenda was to visit Hokusei Products, a Takaoka City based company which deals in aluminum and other metals, and produces pharmaceutical packages and lifestyle products. Delegation members listened intently to a presentation on the company’s latest activities, the most exciting of which include the IMG_0377recent founding of Hokusei North America, which has been partnering with Business Oregon and the State of Oregon Japan Representative Office as they work to promote Oregon products in Japan and Toyama’s local products in Oregon and across the US. President & CEO Shotaro Tomita and Hokusei staff members gave an informative and well-prepared presentation in English, and also showed their local pride by playing a video promoting the city of Takaoka.

From Hokusei, the delegation went to Nousaku to check out their famous tin products and tour the workshop. While inspecting the facilities, delegation members were able to see how craftsmen and women work meticulously to create Nousaku’s fine caste metal wares. The back room, with its thousands of unique molds was a sight to be seen, and almost everyone left with something to take home from the showroom. The delegation also had a chance to meet with Mr. Nousaku himself, and hear a bit about how the company has innovated on traditional metal casting techniques to create modern, artful wind chimes and uniquely artistic baskets that have made it to markets in New York and Paris.

After a delicious lunch of Toyama Bay Sushi, the delegation visited Toyama City Hall, and then came to the Prefectural Office in order to make a courtesy call to Vice-Governor Satoshi Terabayashi. During the meeting, the vice-governor welcomed the delegation, and expressed his excitement that Toyama Prefecture and the State of Oregon had reached an important milestone of 25 years of friendship.

Later that evening, a reception was held in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Toyama-Oregon friendship. The delegation joined local representatives of Toyama’s business sector, along with Toyama government officials and JET Program assistant language teachers working in local schools who hail from Oregon for delicious food and good conversation. Toyama’s Public Enterprise Administrator, Mr. Hidetoshi Sunuma began the evening by speaking about his recent trip to Oregon this past April. There was also an address by Mr. Hisayashi Ono, president of the prefectural assembly, who mentioned Toyama’s recent role in hosting the G7 Environmental Ministers’ Meeting, and called for IMG_2699further partnership between Toyama and Oregon share as leaders in environmentally-conscious policy. Afterwards, Chris Harder introduced the Oregon delegation, and Metro
Council President Tom Hughes gave a toast. It was a lovely evening, which included delicious local food and sake, as well as lively discussion and a performance of a traditional performance, the Owara Kaze-no-Bon folk dance.

After a full day and a lovely evening that brought Toyama and Oregon even closer, the delegation went back to Tokyo the next morning on the new Hokuriku Shinkansen to continue their activities. As was mentioned during the celebration, Toyama-Oregon relations have seen 25 years of fruitful exchange; we here in Toyama are looking forward to 25 years more!





6月13日(月)は、県内企業視察や県政府への表敬訪問など、多くの行事が盛り込まれていました。県国際課の参納さんと私が訪問団に同行し、高岡市にあるアルミ製品・各種パッケージ・デザイン製品を扱うホクセイプロダクツ株式会社を訪問しました。訪問団は、Hokusei North Americaがオレゴン州政府駐日代表部と協力し、オレゴン州の商品を日本に輸入することや、富山の工芸品などをオレゴン州と米国でマーケット開拓を行う取り組みなど、ホクセイのアメリカでのビジネス展開についての発表を興味深く聞き入りました。代表取締役の冨田昇太郎氏やスタッフの英語での素晴らしいプレゼンテーションとともに、高岡市のPR動画も流し、地域に対する誇りを伝えました。






Toyama-Oregon 25th Anniversary Friendship Delegation



This past April 23 – 28, a delegation led by Mr. Hidetoshi Sunuma, Toyama Prefecture Public Enterprise Administrator, visited Oregon to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of sister-state relations. Among the visits made by the delegation were local companies such as Columbia Sportswear, Kokusai Semiconductor Equipment Co., and Ajinomoto Windsor, as well as the Portland Japanese Garden and vineyards at Rex Hill and Domaine Serene. During the delegation’s visit, several exchange projects and ceremonial events were held successfully; here is a brief report on some of the major events during the visit.

Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest
The delegation’s first order business was attending the 20th Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest, held on Sunday, April 24th at the World Trade Center in Portland. The speech contest is a program sponsored by Toyama Prefecture and organized with the cooperation of the Japan-America Society of Oregon. The contest encourages college and university students in their Japanese studies by providing an opportunity for students to hone their language ability and public speaking skills. Representing the Toyama delegation, Public Enterprise Administrator Mr. Sunuma and prefectural assembly member Mr. Seikichi Hienae joined the panel of judges.

IMG_1075Across two different divisions, 16 contestants shared their inspirational and thought inspiring experiences concerning themes of personal challenges, identity, future plans, and more. Toyama delegation members were deeply impressed by the language ability and quality of preparation of each participant. After the judge’s deliberation period, participants were recognized and selected contestants were awarded prizes for their excellent performances. This year’s winners included:

Level 1 (lower division):
1st: Lance Crafton, Willamette University
2nd: Graham Smith, Portland State University
3rd. Kateryne Velazco, Lewis and Clark College

Level 2 (higher division):
1st: Michaela Duffey, Linfield College
2nd: Peilin Linda Miao, University of Oregon
3rd: Alexandra Griffis, University of Oregon

The grand prize winner for this year was Michaela Duffey of Linfield College, who will be receiving an all-expenses-paid trip to Toyama!


After the winners were announced, a small reception was organized for participants, former participants, JASO members and related parties. In attendance was Consul General Kojiro Uchiyama of the Consular Office of Japan in Portland, who congratulated the participants and praised the Toyama-Oregon relationship for remaining active over 25 years.

25th Anniversary Celebration of Toyama-Oregon Friendship

On April 26th, an evening reception was held in the Wells Fargo Center in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary of friendship between Toyama Prefecture and the State of Oregon. The event brought together former exchange employees, members of local IMG_1276organizations such as JASO and the Shokookai of Portland, and other friends of Toyama. Starting off the evening, an address was given by Consul General Uchiyama, followed by delegation leader Mr. Sunuma. Representing the state of Oregon was Ms. Kristen Leonard, the Governor’s Chief of Staff, who gave a wonderful toast, followed by a Mr. Hienae, who finished the formalities with a kanpai.
Guests enjoyed music played on the koto while sampling the delicious food, a fusion made with ingredients local to Toyama and Oregon. Toyama favorites such as trout sushi, firefly squid and white shrimp were also available, and Toyama’s locally-brewed sake was available alongside Oregon beer and wine.
It was a very pleasant evening with new meetings and reunions of old friends; long-time Toyama supporters brought out photo albums, and old stories were told, and plenty of laughter was shared. At the end of the evening, Toyama delegation members were left impressed by how the sister-state relationship has touched the lives of so many people. It was an honor and a pleasure for our delegation to play a role in continuing this wonderful friendship!

Donations of the “Toyama Manga Collection”

In celebration of the educational exchange occurring between Toyama and Oregon, Toyama Prefecture donated collections of Toyama manga and books to two educational institutions that partnered with Toyama institutions for exchange programs, the International School of Beaverton, and Portland State University. Each collections contains nearly 200 volumes of manga and books whose authors are from Toyama, or are set in Toyama.

On April 26th, the delegation visited Portland State University, where the donation ceremony was held. Dean Cliff Allen and many faculty members and students of the School of Business Administration greeted the delegation warmly, and after introductions, the presentation ceremony of the Toyama Manga Collection was held. Afterwards, delegation leader Mr. Sunuma gave a short presentation on Toyama and overview of the prefecture’s activities to about 30 graduate students in the program. Students were particularly interested in the prefecture’s system of transferring employees between departments, which is somewhat different from the style seen in the US.
IMG_1228After fielding questions and thanking the students for their attention, we walked through the beautiful campus to the library, built around a venerable old tree. We toured the library and saw the stacks where the Toyama Manga Collection would soon be available for students to peruse. The group was very impressed at the comfortable and functional study areas, the library’s excellent resources, and its overall popularity with students.
Exchange between Portland State University and Toyama picked up last year, when a large group of students from Toyama Prefectural University participated in a short-term study abroad program. English is an important communication tool for Toyama students, and what better place to learn than Oregon, Toyama’s sister state? As some of the business administration students of PSU already know, Japanese language ability may prove to be a very valuable skill as well; as such, the delegation hopes to see continued partnership in education moving forward.

The following day, the delegation paid a visit to the International School of Beaverton, for the donation of the Toyama Manga Collection and a look at how Japanese language education forms part of the school’s culture. The International School of Beaverton officially formed a sister-school relationship with Toyama’s Kosugi High School in 2013, and this year short exchange trips have been held for small groups of students from both schools to visit each other.
IMG_1297Upon arriving at the school, the delegation was greeted by Principal O’Neill, and treated to a welcome performance by the school’s chorus. Afterwards, the official presentation of the manga collection was made, and a reception with tasty cookies was held. Many students of Japanese came to speak with our delegation members, who were happy to have the chance to speak to the students directly. As well, since the school has Spanish and Chinese programs, and a student body with many students from diverse backgrounds, the delegation enjoyed meeting many students and hearing about their experiences.
After the reception, the delegation was able to take a tour of the school, and was even allowed to sit in on the first part of Ms. Mikako West’s Japanese class. We were all very impressed by the student’s abilities and positive, relaxed attitudes toward learning. Later on during the tour, we were shown the library, where manga and books from Toyama will soon be color-coded and stacked alongside books in English, Spanish and Chinese. Some of the students were kind enough to explain their research projects to us, and show us what they were working on. As we left the school to continue with the day’s schedule, we felt inspired by the energy of the kids at the International School of Beaverton. Surely, the books donated by Toyama will be put to good use as the students continue their Japanese studies, and their interactions with their sister school here in Toyama.



2016年4月23日―28日、富山県の須沼公営企業管理者を団長とする訪問団がオレゴン州に派遣され、様々な行事で友好提携25周年を祝いました。コロンビア・スポーツウェア本社やKokusai Semiconductor Equipment Co., 味の素ウィンザー社などの企業見学とともに、ポートランド日本庭園やワイナリーのRex HillとDomaine Sereneも視察しました。様々な会議と記念交流プロジェクトが行われた中から、主なイベントをここで報告します。



レベル1 (学習歴が短い方)
1位 Lance Crafton, Willamette University
2位Graham Smith, Portland State University
3位Kateryne Velazco, Lewis and Clark College

レベル2 (学習歴が長い方)
1位Michaela Duffey, Linfield College
2位Peilin Linda Miao, University of Oregon
3位Alexandra Griffis, University of Oregon

今回の最優秀賞、そして富山県への研修旅行を勝ち取ったのは、Michaela Duffey (Linfield College)さんでした。おめでとうございます!







Opportunity for students of Japanese: Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest



Every year, in conjunction with the Japan-America Society of Oregon, Toyama Prefecture sponsors a Japanese language speech contest for college and university students in the state of Oregon. The Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest first began in 1996, commemorating the 5th anniversary of the sister-state relationship between Toyama and Oregon. Students who compete will not only improve their Japanese and public speaking abilities, but also stand to win prizes, with the grand-prize winner getting an all-expenses-paid trip to Toyama Prefecture! The winner will spend a week enjoying the beautiful scenery and wonderful food of Toyama, as well as meeting locals and taking part in a variety of hands-on experiences. See JASO’s webpage for more details and information about how to register.

In order to give prospective participants an idea of what to expect, I am sharing the experiences of Lauren Inaba, the 2015 winner below. I hope that this serves as an inspiration and reminder; the next winner could be you!

I was able to tour the Nanto area with Lauren and Anya, the Russian winner of the Vladivostok Japanese Speech Contest, during their stay in Toyama this past September. We had a wonderful time visiting Zuisenji Temple, making our own Japanese paper, seeing the historic villages of Gokayama, and making our own toasted rice crackers! I asked Lauren to send me a review of her experience after her trip… Here it is!

How was the speech contest?

I entered the speech contest for the second time after my study abroad. The first time I had competed in the speech contest it was in a different division and it was more about the experience of doing a speech contest. This time I was more interested in hearing everyone else’s speeches. My speech was about one of my own experiences in Japan; I knew I wanted to speak about an experience that made me laugh, and have fun with the speech – I didn’t want to be serious the entire time if I didn’t have to be. I chose to speak about my first time at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine, during the beginning of my study abroad. In short, I made a cultural mistake and got scolded by an older Japanese lady, who had mistaken me for a Japanese girl from Japan. It caused me to wonder about how differently the situation might have turned out if she had instead thought of me as a foreigner, and what it would have been like if I were a male.

First impression of Toyama

IMG_8573My first impression was when I saw the Toyama station on my first day. For some reason I had expected a smaller station and figured Toyama would be more country than city. However, what stuck out most in my trip to Toyama were my interactions with everyone and the conversations we had. Sometimes it was about differences between Vladivostok, Toyama, and Oregon, other times it was about topics such as the pros and cons of having the appearance of a foreigner in Japan compared to having the appearance of a Japanese.

I was aware that Japan is full of historic and beautiful places to see, and Toyama is no exception. Tateyama was breathtakingly beautiful, and I was able to compare the giant cedar trees to the giant redwood trees in Oregon. During my visit to Gokayama, I was impressed by the uniqueness of the gassho-style houses, and that it is the only World Heritage site in Japan that is maintaining not only a historically and culturally significant place but a lifestyle – people still live within the houses in the village and have been maintaining them, changing the thatching every twenty years. I became interested in doing things one could only do in Toyama, so I tried the white shrimp, the masuzushi, and even a bit of Toyama sake.

What was the highlight of the trip?

I have a hard time picking one highlight as I felt that there was a highlight from each day of my trip. I did enjoy spending a day with the students just walking around, talking and relaxing at Kansui Park after shopping in Toyama city. I am very glad I chose to do a home-stay during the trip. I had done a home-stay before, but talking until late into the night with my host mother about anything out of the blue and watching the news in the morning with my host father when I woke up too early were priceless moments to me.













Visit from Forest Grove

forest grove

A delegation from Forest Grove, Oregon visited the Toyama Prefectural Office on July 24th

In the end of July, a delegation from the City of Forest Grove, Oregon visited the Town of Nyuzen, Toyama Prefecture, staying with local residents and paying a courtesy call to prefectural government officials during their visit. Forest Grove Mayor Peter Truax headed the delegation which also included City Councilors Richard Kidd and Malynda Wenzl, for a total of 13 distinguished members from a wide variety of ages and backgrounds.

The Sister Cities relationship between Forest Grove and Nyuzen dates back to 1988, with delegations hosted by members of each community almost every year. For several members of the delegation, this was not the first time to visit Nyuzen; several members mentioned that during their repeated visits, real friendship had blossomed over the years. This year’s delegation was in Toyama from July 22nd – 26th, staying with home stay families in Nyuzen, and also touring other areas in Toyama Prefecture, such as the Kurobe Gorge and various locations in the city of Takaoka.

Tim Rippe, Public Safety Advisory Commission Board Member, gave the following comment about his experience with the delegation:

“Our trip to Nyuzen and Toyama, Japan was informative, educational and fun.  I personally enjoyed experiencing the Japanese culture first hand by staying with my host family in Nyuzen.  The area is beautiful with much history and many cultural sites.  Everyone was friendly and helpful.  Someday I would like to return to the area to learn more about public safety issues and also spend more time in Toyama visiting history and art museums.  The trip was a very rewarding experience for me.”

For more information about the Sister City relationship, see Forest Grove’s webpage:

Take an afternoon tour of a fish auction!


Experience an authentic fish auction at Shinminato fisherman’s wharf

At the Shinminato fisherman’s wharf in Imizu, the local fisherman’s association holds afternoon auctions at 1 p.m. daily. Toyama is one of only a few locations in Japan where the general public is allowed to observe auctions; the midday auctions at Shinminato are an excellent chance to take advantage of this authentic experience! Morning auctions, which begin at 5:30 a.m., mostly feature fish caught using the fixed-net system, a traditional trademark of Toyama Bay. At afternoon auctions, on the other hand, bidders compete over shrimp, crabs and shellfish brought in by small fishing boats which use dragnets, basket traps and other fishing methods. Visitors can take in the auction from the deck on the 2nd floor, which is reserved exclusively for observers.

crabs and white shrimp

    Red snow crabs at auction                                                                              White shrimp

Look no further for a selection of delicacies unique to Toyama!

After observing the auction, make your way to the Shinminato Kittokito Market, where you can sample the catch of the day at Kitokito-tei. Recognized as one of the most beautiful bays in the world, Toyama Bay is well-known for high quality seafood. With fishing grounds located close to shore, the catch always arrives at the peak of freshness, and the faster it gets to your plate, the better it tastes!

Each season brings different Toyama specialties; here you will find some of the symbols of Toyama such as white shrimp, often called “the Jewel of Toyama Bay” and yellowtail, “the King of Toyama Bay”. You can also taste the mysterious bio-luminescent firefly squid, and other delicious treats such as red snow crab. Go for the full experience – see buyers compete at the lively auction, and taste Toyama’s famous seafood for yourself!

seafood sets

Shinminato Kittokito Market                   White shrimp sashimi set                      Imizu seafood set

*Observations are free of charge, but you must make a reservation by calling Shinminato Kittokito Market (assistance in Japanese language only, 0766-84-1233). Check in at the information counter by 12:45. Estimated time for observation is about 30 minutes. Be advised that cancellations may occur on days when fishing is impossible due to weather conditions. There is no observation on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Source article and pictures: Toyama Just Now  

*Consult the following pages for more information:

Midday auctions at Shinminato fishermen’s wharf

Shinminato Kittokito Ichiba (Japanese only)

New stations, new opportunities with the Hokuriku Shinkansen

image (1)
View from the Shinkansen platform at Toyama Station

Over two months have passed since the new bullet train line, the Hokuriku Shinkansen, began service in Toyama Prefecture. From Toyama Station, it now takes as little as 2 hours 8 minutes to arrive in Tokyo, and the amount of available seats has increased by almost 3-fold. The increased convenience of travel has been widely hailed as a once-in-a-generation opportunity to increase business and tourism in Toyama, and bring renewed energy to the area.

shintakaoka station
The new Shin-Takaoka Station

While long-term effects of the Shinkansen’s arrival remain to be seen, there have certainly been many visible changes to Toyama already: namely, the recently completed new train stations. Both Shin-Takaoka Station and Kurobe-Unazukionsen Station opened on March 14th, the same day that Shinkansen service began. Shin-Takaoka Station is serviced by Hakutaka trains, linking the area to Tokyo in roughly 2 hours 40 minutes to 3 hours, as well as the Tsurugi shuttle service which runs between Toyama and Kanazawa. A regular ticket between Shin-Takaoka and Tokyo will cost 13,060 yen. The station is located a few miles to the south of the Takaoka Station, and offers convenient access to Aeon Mall, one of the area’s main shopping centers, as well as Takaoka’s National Treasure, Zuiryuji Temple.

Kurobe-Unazukionsen Station features the Hakutaka, with service to and from Tokyo (11,340 yen) in as little as 2 hours 15 minutes. As the name implies, this station is perfect for those interested in bathing in the hot springs at Unazuki Onsen. Both Shin-Takaoka and Kurobe Unazukionsen are spotless, modern stations with gift shops featuring local food products, sake, traditional crafts and more. They have brought a feeling of excitement to their respective regions, with hopes that increased travel to the area will invigorate local business.

Streetcars depart directly from Toyama Station

Toyama Station continues as a central junction of transportation in the prefecture; local lines are now run by Toyama Ainokaze Railway, with Japan Railways managing the Shinkansen. Kagayaki is the limited express which brings passengers to and from Tokyo in a little over 2 hours (12,730 yen), and the Hakutaka takes a little bit longer but is 500 yen cheaper. Toyama’s new station was also unveiled on March 14th, coinciding with the opening and renewal of several stores. The brand new marketplace Toyamarché and several other restaurants and souvenir shops are located right in the new station building. Another convenient aspect of the new station is that Toyama’s streetcars now pull directly into the station, making for easy transfer. Although the new station is open and operating, construction is not over; the north exit will continue to undergo renovations, eventually connecting streetcars on the north and south sides of the station.

Click here for a fairly comprehensive English language explanation of the Hokuriku Shinkansen. While the regular prices listed for the Hokuriku Shinkansen may seem a bit on the expensive side, it is worth noting that the Japan Rail Pass allows visitors to Japan to use the Shinkansen at no additional cost. With 1, 2 or 3 week passes available, this is by far the cheapest and easiest way for visitors to travel in Japan.

State of Oregon Japan Representative Office participates in the Toyama General Manufacturing Industry Trade Fair 2015

From Thursday, April 23 – Saturday, April 25, the Toyama General Manufacturing Industry Trade Fair 2015 was held in the Toyama Techno Hall, in Toyama City. The trade fair saw the State of Oregon Japan Representative Office participate for the first time, staffing a booth and giving a presentation.

The Toyama trade fair came shortly after Business Oregon held its annual Doing Business in Oregon seminar in Tokyo, in which a group of Oregon delegates traveled to Japan in order to promote the development of Japanese business in Oregon. Riding the momentum from that seminar, representatives from Business Oregon and the State of Oregon Japan Representative Office came to Toyama’s Industry Trade Fare, giving a presentation outlining the benefits of doing business in Oregon. Officials from Toyama Prefecture, including the Director of the International Affairs Division and I were in attendance for the presentation. It was a pleasure to see our friends from Oregon, and I certainly hope that exchange like this continues in the coming years!

The Toyama General Manufacturing Industry Trade Fair 2015 brought together exhibitors from around the world in the field of manufacturing technologies to promote economic exchange while introducing cutting-edge technology to visitors. Participants represented a broad spectrum of industries including machine tools, industrial machines, electronics, information technology, plastic molding, aluminum processing, textiles and pharmaceuticals.