Farewell from Director Sometani

2018/04/04 News

IMG_0001I am saddened to announce that I am being transferred back to Japan, and therefore my period as Director of Kobe Trade Information Office ended March 31st, 2018. I will be returning to Kobe.

Looking back, it seems like yesterday when I first arrived in Seattle in May of 2015. It had been the first time in 24 years that I had returned to Seattle and the city was much more vibrant, with new construction and busy traffic, than I had remembered. I was able to meet with many new people in these past 3 years, and I was able to learn so much from all of you. These new friends and learnings have made my time here very fruitful.

It was sad to say farewell to my old friends, teachers, and benefactors from university as well as all of the new friends and colleagues I met during my stay here. I also lost someone dear to me whom I had met in Seattle. I will carry these memories with me back to Japan and wherever I may go.

Last year was the 60th anniversary of the Seattle Kobe Sister City relationship, and I look forward to the continuation of the strong friendship between our two cities.

Friends of Seattle, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your warm welcome and continuing friendship. I hope to see you next time in Kobe!

My successor, Masanori Nagamine, will be arriving in Seattle soon. Please treat him well.

Thank you,

Tetsuya Sometani









Japan Seattle AI Innovation Meetup 7.0

2018/01/30 News

The Japan Seattle AI Innovation Meetup 7.0 event was held on January 24-26 in order to connect startups in Seattle with Japanese corporations.


Tom Sato giving his opening remarks.

The meetup event was hosted by Innovation Finders Capital (IFC). The co-founders of IFC, Tets Eto and Tom Sato, were both involved in the early period of Microsoft and have a strong IT network.

The Washington State Department of Commerce and the Orrick law firm also contributed towards the event. The Department of Commerce participated as a part of the  Memorandum of Cooperation in Economic and Trade relations signed in 2016 between Washington State and Japan. The Japanese Consulate in Seattle provided the venue for the initial pitch session as well as hosting a reception afterwards.

According to the Washington State Department of Commerce, their goal is to promote the export of tech startups. To further support this, Washington State will be sending startups to Tokyo as part of a tech mission in early June of this year.  Tom Sato believes that the startups found in Washington State can provide the technology that Japanese corporations are searching for, and would like to build a bridge between the two groups.

Networking reception after the pitch session.

Networking reception after the pitch session.

During the event on the 24th, the 11 startups from Seattle each gave a 3-minute pitch of their technology. According to some of the Japanese attendees, the startups and their pitches were of a higher quality and sophistication when compared to similar events that they attended in Silicon Valley.

The venue for the 25th was the Colombia tower, and there the Japanese corporations gave a ‘reverse pitch’ to describe what kind of technology solutions they were searching for. There were 10 presenters, including corporations such as Mitsubishi, Fujitsu, and Nomura, as well as institutions such as Aoyama Gakuin University.

The 26th was largely taken up with one on one meetings between those that were matched through their information profiles. The 40 or so startups that did not take part in the pitch sessions were able to participate in this event, leading to over 50 Seattle startups meeting with 15 Japanese Corporations.









The KTIO Amazon Go experience

2018/01/22 News


As of today (January 22, AMZ01 2018), Amazon Go is open to the public!

The store has been in a beta open since December 5, 2016 and available only to Amazon employees. The original public open date was set for Spring of 2017, however issues with sensors and tracking all of the customers had to be overcome first, pushing the open date back to today.









At first glance the entrance gates inside the store look like those you find at the train stations in Japan. Scanning an Amazon Go smartphone application as we pass through these gates allowed us to enter the approximately 1800 square foot store space, where around 30 people were already shopping.

Taking any of the products off the shelf adds it to our shopping cart. We try putting it in our bag, then returning it to the shelf. After a few more tests, we are satisfied.

To leave, we just pass through the gates again and our transaction is complete – no scanning this time.

When we checked the application a few minutes later, we found a receipt with exactly the items we left the store with.

It was my first time with the “no lines, no checkout” experience. If this technology becomes widespread and allows for unmanned stores, it could give a huge boost to convenience stores in Japan currently troubled by a lack of young workers.

It would also be possible to deliver targeted ads and prices directly to the shopper, allowing for more sales. I look forward to seeing the effect this has on the economy.














本日(1月22日)より、ついにAmazon Goが一般向けにオープン!






「No lines, No checkout」(行列なし、レジ精算不要)の初体験であったが、今後このテクノロジーが普及することで、無人店舗運営が可能となるため、日本のコンビニなどでの若手の働き手の不足に大きな突破口になりうる。


23rd Great Hanshin Earthquake remembrance ceremony held in New York

2018/01/18 News

image1On January 16th, Director Sometani traveled to Manhattan, NY, in order to attend the 23rd annual Great Hanshin Earthquake remembrance ceremony being hosted by the Hyogo Club of NY and the NY branch of the Kobe International Club. There, Director Sometani read aloud a message from Kobe City Mayor Hisamoto.

Deputy Consul General Ishizuka of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, was in attendance, alongside representatives of groups from prefectures affected by the disaster such as Miyagi, Fukushima, Kumamoto, and Akita. In total 60 people were in attendance for the ceremony. In addition, the Mayor of Philadelphia sent a message of respect and appreciation to the citizens of Kobe, Japan.

Following a moment of silence led by NY Buddhist Council Vice President Kenjitsu Nakagaki, a requiem was performed by NY classical pianist Yurika Mihara and soprano vocalist Manami Hattori.

During the reception after the performance attendees from the areas affected by the disaster shared their experiences during and after the earthquake. Afterwards, the two host groups presented a donation to the Kumamoto – Ooita earthquake recovery group.

We at KTIO would like to offer our heartfelt thanks to Kobe International Club president Fujisaki and NY Hyogo Club President Onishi, as well as those who helped in coordinating, for hosting this event.




image1 (004)
















染谷代表は、1月16日夕刻、ニューヨーク マンハッタンの日本レストランで、北東アメリカ兵庫県人会、神戸インターナショナルクラブNY支部との合同開催された「阪神淡路大震災23年追悼式典」と懇親会に参加し、久元神戸市長のメッセージを朗読しました。


NY仏教連盟 中垣 副会長による黙祷の後。ニューヨークを中心に活躍するクラシックピアニスト三原様、ソプラノ歌手服部様による鎮魂歌曲の演奏がありました。



Design Thinking x Japan ~ Re-imagine Japan Tourism~ workshop event held in San Francisco

2017/09/25 News
The SAP Academy students and Japanese representatives separate into groups to begin the workshop.

The SAP Academy students and Japanese representatives separate into 30 groups to begin the workshop.

Kobe Trade Information Office took part in the “Design Thinking x Japan ~ Re-imagine Japan Tourism~” event hosted by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco. The event took place over three days, starting on Tuesday, September 12 to Thursday, September 14.

KTIO was one of the 60 representatives from Japanese organizations that attended the event, alongside 160 SAP Academy students from 37 different countries. Together we utilized design thinking exercises to come up with new and innovative ideas that would work to promote tourism to Japan. At the end of the workshop session, individual groups were able to present the results of their design thinking session.

在サンフランシスコ日本国総領事館が主催した「Design Thinking × Japan ~Re-imagine Japan tourism~」と題したワークショップに神戸シアトルビジネスオフィスも参加しました。イベントは2020年訪日外国人旅行者数4000万人達成に向けた取り組みの一環であり、9月12日(火)~14日(木)の3日間サンフランシスコ付近で開催されました。


The group KTIO was a part of, as we work through the steps of the design thinking workshop.

The group KTIO was a part of, as we work through the steps of the design thinking workshop.

The 3 design thinking groups that were voted most innovative.

The 3 design thinking groups that were voted most innovative.