Tsuruta visitor renews bonds formed during 2007 visit

A childhood trip to Hood River helped shape a young woman’s interest in the world.

When Narumi Ota was in middle school — about 2007, she said — she was part of a visiting group of middle school students from Tsuruta, Japan, Hood River’s Sister City. She remembered visiting Hood River Middle School and May Street Elementary, as well as snowboarding on Mount Hood, and the fun she had with her host family.

Hosts needed in October

Families are needed to host middle school students from Tsuruta, Japan, the week of Oct. 27.

Check out the Hood River-Tsuruta Sister City Facebook page or email Niko Yasui at:


Sister City Program also announces a community visit to Tsuruta in August 2014. Contact Yasui for details about making the trip as a Hood River ambassador.

“At that time I couldn’t speak English that well, but I had a good time with my host family,” she said.

Now at age 20, Ota returned to the Hood River Valley on Labor Day this year, staying for two weeks with hosts Jean Harmon and Paul Randall. The visit was arranged by Niko Yasui, president of the Hood River-Tsuruta Sister City program.

Ota’s reasons for visiting Hood River were two-fold. First, she is studying Chinese at Tokyo University for Foreign Studies, and feared she was forgetting the English language. The second — and main — reason is that her visit to Hood River helped spark her interest in international studies.

“Now I’m in Tokyo University for foreign studies,” she said, “because before I came here six years ago, I was not so interested in foreign countries.” Her middle school host family “helped me want to learn about the world.”

Ota’s two weeks were packed with activities. Harmon took her to Portland to see the Rose Garden, Japanese Garden, Chinese Garden and Nikkei Legacy Museum, among other stops. Randall took her on a 12-mile rafting trip along the White Salmon River with his children. She visited Mount Hood, Timberline Lodge and Panorama Point.

There were a few things on her list, too, like attending her first-ever football game. She saw the Hood River Valley Eagles play their first home game of the season with HRVHS alum Emily Roberts.

“It was so tough!” she said of the game, adding, “The cheerleaders were so cute.”

She also wanted to go to a barbecue and eat hamburgers. “It’s different from a Japanese one,” she says. “Bigger. It’s American culture.” While she likes American food, “it’s so large and big for me,” she said, referring to portion sizes.

Ota’s favorite part of her trip, however, was just being in Hood River. The scenery is beautiful, she said, and does resemble Tsuruta a bit, with the orchards.

Her trip was “very busy but so great.” She left Sept. 16 to go back to Tokyo, where classes start in October.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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