Memories to celebrate 60 years of portland-sapporo sister city association (1959-2019) a look back to the 20th anniversary in 1979 by jim mockford mockford

2019 marks the 69th anniversary of the Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association (PSSCA). For current news about PSSCA and programs check out the Facebook site at and web site at This blog will post a few “way back” stories about Portland and Sapporo exchanges that took place about 40 years ago.

Growing up in Portland I knew that we had a sister city in Japan called Sapporo and because the Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association (PSSCA) was established in 1959 it already had a track record of interesting activities and cultural exchanges before I was invited to join PSSCA in the late 1970s.

I had been to Japan three times in that decade and I studied for a year in Tokyo thanks to the Oregon overseas study program at Waseda University. My first trip to Sapporo was in 1975 as a student. After graduation from the University of Oregon and another trip to Japan I eventually returned to Portland and was invited to participate in PSSCA. It was the eve of the 20th Anniversary of PSSCA and many activities were scheduled.

CASCADE RUN OFF: In June 1979 a group of marathoners from Japan were coming to Portland to race in the Cascade Run Off and I was asked to assist as a volunteer interpreter. My first reply was “Do I have to run with them?” but fortunately (for them) I would be needed during their tour of Portland and at social events and they would be just fine without me during the race. At the Cascade Run Off I took photographs and here are a few slides to share memories of the event.

PORTLAND PUBLIC SCHOOLS TELEVISION / PPS-TV: The television documentary that was produced by John Rausch at Portland Public School Television (PPS-TV) required a a volunteer interpreter and I also became the narrator in Japanese for the TV Program to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association. It was hoped that an American speaking Japanese would be a nice gesture even if my Japanese was not perfect. I wrote a script that would work as well as possible for my narration and in those days the PPS-TV studio was at Jefferson High School where the post production was completed. John’s team of cameraman and sound techs were students and the assignment was to follow exchange students from Sapporo during their visit to Portland and film their homestays and adventures in the community. The professional format for television cameras was still the old 2″ tape and VHS tape (and Sony Betamax) was still a new thing (We later converted our professional tape to VHS). The TV program after conversion from VHS to DVD and uploaded to the cloud can now be viewed in two parts at the links below. The quality of the film is not as good as television today but after all it was filmed 40 years ago with the technology of that period and was upgraded with home technology used in the conversions to newer forms of media at different times. Viewing it today gives an idea of the Portland that Sapporo students visited in 1979. Any errors in translation or narration are mine. We posted the video in two parts due to media size.

Fast forward to 2018 and some young members and some older members of PSSCA gathered in Portland to talk about the upcoming 60th Anniversary. Here are a few photos from a “Sapporo Hangout” at Ecliptic Brewing in Portland. Hang on for further news about other “Sapporo Hangouts” and watch Facebook for announcements about the next one.