Willamette students sweep Japanese speech contest

Contact: Miho Fujiwara

Rey Takahashi ’23, Devon Patterson ’22 and Kahi Wilhelm ’21 win at the Toyama Cup Japanese Speech Contest.

Three Willamette students won prizes at the 2020 Toyama Cup: the 24th Japanese Speech Contest on Saturday, November 21. Rey Takahashi ’23 (Japanese studies) won the first prize, Devon Patterson ’22 won the second prize (Japanese studies and anthropology) and Kahi Wilhelm ’21 (Japanese studies) won the third prize.

Takahashi’s speech was on identity as a half Japanese person in relation to race and ethnicity inspired by conversations with Japanese students in the American Studies Program at Willamette. Patterson demonstrated how it would be like to lose one’s own native language and culture based on a personal experience in Japan to call for preserving endangered languages and cultures. Wilhelm discovered their love for beetles in Japan and analyzed the causes of the different attitudes towards insects between the U.S. and Japan.

Takahashi was also the grand prizewinner with a trip to Toyama, Japan, this summer. This is the third time in the past four years that a Willamette student won the grand prize. Natasha Milligan (Japanese studies and theatre, ’20) in 2017 and Jack Glenn (Japanese studies, ’20) in 2018 won the grand prize and spent a week in Toyama. Each visited the prefectural government and contributed to the sister-state relationship between Oregon and Toyama. Milligan’s experience can be read in English and at the Toyama prefecture government website in Japanese.

The Toyama Cup Japanese Language Speech Contest is sponsored by the Toyama Prefectural Government and the Japan-America Society of Oregon (JASO) in celebration of the Toyama-Oregon sister state affiliation. The first Toyama Cup in 1996 commemorated the fifth anniversary of the friendship between the peoples of Oregon and Toyama. This year marked the 29th anniversary of the Toyama-Oregon sister state relationship. The Toyama Cup is open to any student studying Japanese at a college or university in the State of Oregon and southwest Washington. Contestants are judged on general Japanese language ability, speech content and presentation.

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