The first native English speaker to teach the English language in Japan was an Oregonian—Astorian Ranald MacDonald—who quit his job as a banker and arrived uninvited in 1848. From prison, where he was immediately placed, he taught English to the Japanese ambassador who met Commodore Matthew Perry four years later, opening U.S. trade with Japan. MacDonald was returned home, to die in obscurity.
Japan is Oregon's top agricultural trading partner worldwide. Agriculture accounted for 49 percent of the $1.6 billion in exports from Oregon to Japan in 2014. Nearly all foreign wheat consumed in Japan comes from the Pacific Northwest—about half the wheat Japan consumes overall. The next-biggest export is chemicals.
Oregon's famed oysters are almost all of Japanese origin—the Pacific oyster was introduced from Japan in 1918.
One hundred forty-three companies from Japan currently have a foothold in the Portland metro area, more than any other country, and employ 7,500 people. Roughly 20 percent of these Japanese firms are suppliers to Intel, and another 20 percent or so are in food processing.
Portland is the smallest city in the United States to offer a direct flight to Asia. Delta's service was begun by Northwest Airlines in 2004 and bought out by Delta in 2008. Portland is the closest destination from Tokyo to the American mainland.
Portland had other direct flights to Asia in the '80s and '90s, but this ended in part after the 2000 "Deportland" scandal in which a Chinese businesswoman, Guo Liming, was strip-searched by federal immigration authorities.
Both Portland-based Standard Insurance and LaCrosse Footwear are owned by Japanese companies—Standard by Meiji Yasuda, and LaCrosse, which includes Danner Boots, by ABC-Mart.
At least a dozen Japanese lifestyle magazines have published guides to Portland: Coyote, Paper Sky, Popeye, Nice Things, Mono, Spectator, Brutus, Sotokoto, GQ Japan, Kinfolk Japan, Elle Japan and Lighthouse.
Portland restaurants that already opened and closed there: Slappy Cakes.