Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Sapporo, Japan, Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto continued their commitment to the Portland Sapporo Sister City relationship by rededicating the Japanese bell gifted by business leaders in Sapporo to Portland as a 30th anniversary gift.
“The rededication of the Sapporo Bell is the first milestone in completing our nearly 14-month renovation. Last fall, we broke ground on the Oregon Convention Center plaza and interior renovation project to coincide with the opening of the Hyatt Regency Portland at the Oregon Convention Center,” said Craig Stroud, Oregon Convention Center executive director. The streamlined and enhanced plaza at the Oregon Convention Center will ease access and entry into the center through the primary entrance. The updates to the interior spaces from the lobbies to the ballrooms will reinvigorate the center for local Portlanders as well as will improve its national competitiveness.
As part of the 60th Anniversary of the Portland Sapporo Sister City Association, the Oregon Convention Center hosted a private celebration on June 6, with 90 delegates from Sapporo.
Sister city associations foster and promote cross-cultural understanding between the countries they unify. The Portland-Sapporo Sister City Association stewards the longest-running sister city relationship in Portland – and one of the oldest in the United States. In 1986, the mayors of both cities at that time agreed that they should cooperate in the development of programs for the promotion of tourism; the promotion of trade and mutual economic development activities and activities that amplify the feelings of friendship between the citizens of these two cities.
Portland and Sapporo are close to the same latitude, and both are about 150 years old, with metropolitan populations of close to 2 million. Both cities enjoy beautiful settings and an appreciation of the outdoors. Both were established by pioneers – by loggers and fishermen – who capitalized on their respective region's rich natural resources.
The theme and intention of the 60th Anniversary was one of inclusion and acknowledgement of the Indigenous People who first lived in the Portland region. A land acknowledgement was provided by Cowlitz spiritual leader Tanna Engdahl, followed by land protocols by canoe families from the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs, Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Chinook Nation Tribal Communities of the region.
The gathering culminated with the ringing of the bell and toast by Portland Mayor Wheeler and Sapporo Mayor Akimoto as well as the presidents of the sister city association, Michael Bacon from Portland and Shoichiro Fukusako from Sapporo.
The Sapporo bell is part of a large scale sound installation called Bell Circles II, including a bell from Ulsan, South Korea on the north side of the building and a Taiwanese bell from Kaohsiung which will be placed at the main entrance of the convention center in July. These amazing sounding objects have the potential for connecting peoples and cultures while also marking time and place, and building community locally.
In 1990, Robert Coburn, resident of Oregon and Victoria, British Columbia, at that time, presented the significance of asian bells to the City of Portland and developed a proposal to develop an art installation at the Oregon Convention Center. The sound installation allows visitors to experience the sound garden before they enter the building. Two bronze Asian bells, suspended within fir, steel and glass bell houses on the Center’s north and south outdoor plazas, are rung electronically according to a sequence composed by Coburn. The bells were donated by Portland’s sister cities in Sapporo, Japan and Ulsan, South Korea and will be a part of a composition along with the Kaohsiung, Taiwan bells to be reinstalled in July.