Archive for the 'Sapporo' Category

Grant High Student Joins PSSCA Board

The Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association board of directors just added its first youth member in the organization’s 53-year history.

Sara Onitsuka is a 16-year-old junior at Grant High School in Portland. She has been studying Japanese since she was four years old and currently participates in the Japanese Magnet Program offered at the school.

sara headshot

Last summer Sara had the opportunity to be a part of the Sapporo Summer Institute trip to Sapporo, Japan. She stayed in the home of a Japanese family for three weeks and was immersed in Japanese culture.

Sara also records radio pieces for Asian Pacific-American Compass, a local radio program on KBOO Community Radio. To hear Sara’s reflections on her 2012 stay in Japan, go to

The Sapporo Summer Institute is an educational program supported by the Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association. Plans for next year’s trip to Japan are currently underway.

English in Japan

The following is a report in both Japanese and English from one of the participants of the 2012 Sapporo Summer Institute:



 ほとんど、お店の英語の名前、『alphabet’s alphabet』は製品にあまり関係がない。日本人に聞いたら、「英語はかっこいいから」と言う。
そ して日本の歌にもたくさんの英語が入っている。J-Popの音楽にはふつういくつかの英語のフレーズが入っている。日本人の若者はたくさんの違うアメリカとイ ギリスの音楽家の音楽を聞いている。英語がよくわかるわけではないけれど、英語はかっこいいと思っています。会話で英語を使う例も書きましょう。英語はどんどん 日本の文化に入ってきいる。たとえば私が日本で行った新川高校でだれか誕生日があったら、誕生日の歌は日本語ではなくて、英語で歌う。そして生徒は私に「これは英語で何ですか」と質問をたくさんした。私が教えた言葉は何度もリピートした。

Japan’s English
by Rachel S.

The last two times I came to Japan, I do not remember observing how much English is used in store names, on TV, and in their songs. All throughout the month that I was in Japan, I began to take pictures of all the interesting English store names. Quite often, the store name did not relate to the store products whatsoever. For example, a clothing store was named “alphabet’s alphabet.” This really made me wonder what the store owner had in mind when they made up the name. I decided to inquire around and see what Japanese people thought of the English in their store names. When asked if they could read all the English store names and such, the response was “no.” If the many Japanese can’t read or understand the English that is all around, then why is it so popular? The answer to this is that it’s simply considered “cool.” It was then pointed out that there are people from America who wear shirts with Kanji on them yet have no idea what it says. After noticing how much Japan uses English, it got me thinking about whether America does this same thing yet with other languages.

Music also another way that the Japanese seem to connect to America. For example, most J-pop songs have a couple of phrases in English that repeat themselves throughout the song. Not only that, but Japanese teens also listen to many artists from America and England even if they don’t understand what the song means. Not only is there English in their songs but English is also used as a slang in their everyday conversations. For example they say Ok, good, happy birthday and other words in English when there are actual Japanese words for them. Also, when at the school, the students were constantly wanting to know what some words were in English. For example, the first word I taught them was “card board box” and ever since then, they have remembered it. English is very much a part of the Japanese culture.

Not only do the Japanese seem to think that English is “cool,” my host mom was also very shocked when she found out that my Mother actually wanted me to buy her things that were traditional Japanese. Through the conversation, it came out that Japanese people didn’t really own Japanese things in their own homes. It is actually not in style to own traditional Japanese things. Thinking about it, I had noticed a large amount of American flags on clothing but I had never seen anyone wearing the Japan flag on their clothing. It almost seems like American is more than a place, it’s also a fashion. Their songs have English in them, their clothing has English on them, many store names are in English, and it’s all considered “cool.”

I find it amazing that the Japanese are quickly adjusting to other cultures from all over the world when unlike America, the majority of the country does not come from other countries. Over this month I really observed Japan’s use of English even more than I ever have before.

Sapporo Delegation to Visit Portland

The Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association is proud to host a five-member goodwill delegation from Sapporo, Japan later this month. The delegates are representing the 42nd Annual English Oratorical Contest held in Sapporo last fall. The tradition of the oratorical competition began in November of 1969, the tenth anniversary of the sister city relationship between Portland and Sapporo.


Iketa Tomaho – poses with her trophy

Four contest winners plus a chaperone will visit Portland from March 26 through April 2. While in town, they’ll be hosted by local families; they’ll tour the city, visit Portland’s Japanese Garden, attend a Trail Blazer game and give their winning speeches in the Council Chamber at City Hall.

The Oratorical presentations will take place on Monday, March 28, at 1:00 p.m. at City Hall. The public is welcome to come and hear the speeches and show their appreciation to the winners, including:

15-year-old Iketo Tamaho of Fuji Girls Junior High School, 1st Place Winner of the Junior High Division. The title of her speech is “My Thank You Letter.”

Watanabe Ryo of Hokurei Junior High School, 2nd Place winner in the Junior High Division; the title of his speech is “Bushido – The Moral Spirit of Japan.”

Maruo Natsumi of Sapporo Minami Senior High School, age 17, 1st Place High School Division; her speech is “Seeds of Peace.”

Takase Mika (a Call Center agent) age 30, 1st Place winner in the University & Adult Division; her speech is “Pink Month.”

PSSCA wants to thank the generous supporters who have offered lodging and gifts to the goodwill delegation. In light of the recent tragic events in Japan, Portland is fortunate to have these representatives visit from our very first sister city, Sapporo.

PSSCA President Sends Letter to Mayor Ueda

Today Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association President Thompson (Thom) M. Faller sent a letter of sympathy and concern to Mayor Fumio Ueda and Citizens of Sapporo.


Letter to Mayor Ueda

His entire letter is available for reading (below).

Note: The following document is in PDF format.

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Oregon Snow Sculpture Team Warming Up

The 38th annual Sapporo Snow Sculpture contest begins in February of 2011. Part of the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival that attracts over two million visitors annually, the contest will host eighteen teams from around the world in its International Division. One of these teams will be Oregon’s own Team USA Oregon Snow Sculpture Team, which will be competing for the eighteenth year.


2011 Snow Festival Poster

The all-volunteer team has been working hard for the last several months planning, designing, visiting sponsors and launching their new website, which contains information about the team, its history and its members, as well as a listing of support staff, sponsors and supporters that help make everything possible.

The Team USA Oregon Snow Sculpture Team was formed in 1985 by members of the Schnee Vogle Ski Club; one of the team’s first sculptures was the Hokkaido Bear, which place second overall in the competition. Besides Sapporo, the team often competes in other countries, like Finland, China and locations in the United States. Supporters include the Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association, the International Trade Administration-Department of Commerce, the City of Portland, Travel Oregon and the Oregon Economic Development Commission, as well as many business and cultural sponsors in the Portland area.

For the first time in its history, Team USA Oregon Snow Sculpture Team will take sponsors, supporters and others interested in business with Japan on an unescorted ‘Introduction to Japan’ delegation tour. Sponsors have an opportunity to not only support the team with either monetary or in-kind donations, but also are invited to come with the team and partake in contest activities, events and meetings. The ‘Introduction to Japan’ opportunities allow a chance to meet city officials, business organization and introduce their Oregon products.

The trip is also a huge cultural opportunity, as the city of Sapporo hosts teams and offers home stays with Sapporo citizens. This is a wonderful chance to meet and live with some of Sapporo’s finest citizens and their families. Home stays are covered with trip costs and may include some meals and assistance with transportation (although tour and delegation participants should plan their own meals and transportation, as this is an unescorted tour).

For more information, visit the team website at TeamUSAOregon.Com. Downloads of the Festival itinerary and applications can be found there, as well as sponsorship applications and instructions on how to accompany the team. Call Charley Scott (Team Manager), at 503.255.2347 or James Hill (Assistant Team Manager), at 503.297.9268 for more information.

CLICK ME to go to the Snow Festival website!