KTIO Visits Silicon Valley

2015/09/11 News
5 Finalist Participants at 500 Startups

In late August, KTIO and a delegation of 16 participants from Japan traveled to Silicon Valley in California. Among these 16 participants were entrepreneurs and students, who arrived in Silicon Valley with the goal of expanding their knowledge and expertise on business development, entrepreneurial growth, and successful methods for pitching ideas. From 8/22 through 8/27, KTIO and the team at San Francisco’s 500 Startups worked with these participants to develop entrepreneurial tools for success in business and technological fields.

At 500 Startups, participants from Japan lean how to effectively pitch an idea.

At 500 Startups, participants from Japan lean how to effectively pitch an idea.

Participants from Japan traveled throughout Silicon Valley, visiting numerous organizations and startups such as Google, ChatWork, Pinterest, Yahoo!, Apple, Treasure Data and Twitter. After exploring Silicon Valley’s unique characteristics and entrepreneurial history, these participants were given the opportunity to present a pitch to Zafer Younis and Diana Moldavsky, Venture Partners at 500 Startups. Five participants were chosen to proceed into a “championship round” of pitch presentations.

One of the five finalists in the competition to pitch an idea presents at 500 Startups.

One of the five finalists in the competition to pitch an idea presents at 500 Startups.

One of the five finalists in the competition to pitch an idea presents at 500 Startups.

One of the five finalists in the competition to pitch an idea presents at 500 Startups.

By the end of the week presenter Mami Takesada was chosen as the winner. All participants who presented were counseled and given advice by Zafer Younis and Diana Moldavsky, who regularly support international entrepreneurs through 500 Startups.

Participants meet with 500 Startups employees and entrepreneurs to learn about the process of pitching and developing successful ideas.

Participants meet with 500 Startups employees and entrepreneurs to learn about the process of pitching and developing successful ideas.

Zafer Younis (left) and Diana Moldavsky (right) of 500 Startups pose for a photo with the winning participant from Japan, Mami Takesada.

Zafer Younis (left) and Diana Moldavsky (right) of 500 Startups pose for a photo with the winning participant from Japan, Mami Takesada.

The winning presenter is counseled by 500 Startups' Zafer Younis.

The winning presenter is counseled by 500 Startups’ Zafer Younis.

Mr. Sometani and participants from Japan attend a lecture at Stanford University on the history and unique characteristics of Silicon Valley.

Mr. Sometani and participants from Japan attend a lecture at Stanford University on the history and unique characteristics of Silicon Valley.

Participants from Japan prepare their individual pitchces before presenting ideas at 500 Startups.

Participants from Japan prepare their individual pitchces before presenting ideas at 500 Startups.

Participants work with Zafer Younis, a Venture Partner at 500 Startups.

Participants work with Zafer Younis, a Venture Partner at 500 Startups.

Participants from Japan sit in on a lecture at the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati offices, a corporation providing legal services to tech companies.

Participants from Japan sit in on a lecture at the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati offices, a corporation providing legal services to tech companies.

Participants visit ChatWork in Sunnyvale, CA.

Participants visit ChatWork in Sunnyvale, CA.

Mr. Sometani and participants from Japan visited the Google campus in Mountain View, CA.

Participants from Japan visited the Google campus in Mountain View, CA.

Participants from Japan gather at Treasure Data in Mountain View, CA.

Participants from Japan gather at Treasure Data in Mountain View, CA.

Participants from Japan exchange ideas with ChatWork, a communication platform designed for small businesses.

Participants from Japan exchange ideas with ChatWork, a communication platform designed for small businesses.

Participants from Japan also had the opportunity to visit the Yahoo! campus in Sunnyvale, CA.

Participants from Japan also had the opportunity to visit the Yahoo! campus in Sunnyvale, CA.

Mr. Sometani's trip included a visit to Stanford University, where participants were lectured on the history of Silicon Valley.

Our trip included a visit to Stanford University, where participants were lectured on the history of Silicon Valley.

Mr. Sometani and the participants from Japan visited Treasure Data, a company that specializes in data management.

Participants from Japan visited Treasure Data, a company that specializes in data management.

Mr. Sometani (far right) poses for a farewell photo with the participants from Japan.

The KTIO Director (far right) poses for a farewell photo with the participants from Japan.

KTIO would like to give Ms. Takesada our warm congratulations, and extend thanks to 500 Startups for its continued support of entrepreneurial exchange between Kobe, the United States, and Japan.

Seafair Torchlight Parade & JET Sendoff

2015/07/28 News
Members and friends of the Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association gathered to greet Ms. Akane Kotani and celebrate Mr. Sometani's birthday

The last weekend of July has proven to be an eventful one for KTIO. On Friday, July 24th, our office gathered for a barbecue with the Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association to celebrate the Kobe Seafair Ambassador, Ms. Akane Kotani.

Earlier in the afternoon on Friday, July 24th, both KTIO and the Hyogo Business & Cultural Center attended a special Sendoff Reception for new members of the JET Program leaving to teach English and support local government throughout Japan. The reception was held at the residence of Seattle’s Consulate General of Japan, Mr. Masahiro Omura. A total of 64 new JET hirees will be leaving for Japan; five of the 64 will travel to Hyogo Prefecture, and two of those five will travel to Kobe. Of the JET hirees traveling to Kobe, they plan to work with both Hazetani Junior High School and Sakuranomiya Junior High School.

New JET hirees and supporting community members gather for a photo at the residence of Consulate General Omura

64 new JET Program hirees will visit Japan to teach English as Assistant Language Teachers or assist local government as Coordiators for International Relations

Ms. Akane Kotani arrived in Seattle on Thursday, July 23rd to participate as a representative of Kobe in Seattle’s annual Seafair Torchlight Parade. The Seafair Torchlight Parade heralds the beginning of Seattle’s Seafair festival, and is a renowned event where Seattle citizens, organizations, and businesses may celebrate both Seafair and the spirit of Seattle.

Below are photos of the Seafair Torchlight Parade on Saturday, July 25th:

A photo of the beginning of the Seafair Torchlight Parade

A photo of the beginning of the Seafair Torchlight Parade

Kobe Seafair Ambassador Akane Kotani participating in the Torchlight Parade

Kobe Seafair Ambassador Akane Kotani participating in the Torchlight Parade

Seattle Mariners' starting pitcher, Felix Hernandez, participating in the Torchlight Parade

Seattle Mariners’ starting pitcher, Felix Hernandez, participating in the Torchlight Parade

University of Washington marching band providing entertainment during the Torchlight Parade

University of Washington marching band providing entertainment during the Torchlight Parade

Mayor Ed Murray (left) and husband Michael Shiosaki (right) participating in the Seafair Torchlight Parade

Mayor Ed Murray (left) and husband Michael Shiosaki (right) participating in the Seafair Torchlight Parade

Seattle’s Seafair weekend begins on Friday, July 31st, and continues until Sunday, August 2nd.

Mayor Hisamoto Visits San Francisco – Pt II

2015/06/22 News
Mayor Hisamoto presents at the San Francisco City Innovate Summit

After the first leg of their visit to San Francisco and Seattle, Mayor Hisamoto and the Kobe delegation returned to San Francisco last week for continued exchange with San Francisco’s local government and entrepreneurial organizations.

Mayor Hisamoto, KTIO’s Director Sometani and the Kobe delegation spent Tuesday, June 16 visiting TUMML, an organization that aids entrepreneurs in impacting local communities. Mayor Hisamoto also met with Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro and Chief Information Office Miguel Gamino at San Francisco’s City Hall. Mayor Hisamoto also participated in a PR reception on Kobe-sponsored investment promotion at the residence of San Francisco’s Consulate General of Japan, Jun Yamada.

Exchanging with Joy Bonaguro and Miguel Gamino at San Francisco City Hall

Exchanging with Joy Bonaguro and Miguel Gamino at San Francisco City Hall

Miguel Gamino and Joy Bonaguro

Mayor Hisamoto (left) with CDO Joy Bonaguro and CIO Miguel Gamino at San Francisco City Hall

Mayor Hisamoto participating in a reception at the residence of Jun Yamada, San Francisco's Consulate General of Japan

Mayor Hisamoto participating in a reception at the residence of Jun Yamada, San Francisco’s Consulate General of Japan

On Wednesday, June 17, Mayor Hisamoto met with Code for America. Code for America is non-profit organization that seeks to improve local communities by connecting open source technology with the transformation of government services. Mayor Hisamoto also met with Peter Hirshberg, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur that focuses on connecting modern technology with business growth.

Mayor Hisamoto participated in a mayors' panel at San Francisco's City Innovate Summit

Mayor Hisamoto participated in a mayors’ panel at San Francisco’s City Innovate Summit

Mayor Hisamoto presents at the San Francisco City Innovate Summit

Mayor Hisamoto speaks at the residence of Jun Yamada, San Francisco’s Consulate General of Japan

Mayor Hisamoto participated in San Francisco’s City Innovate Summit on Wednesday, speaking among a panel of city mayors about his  unique approach to solving Kobe’s modern challenges. Mayor Hisamoto’s presentation focused upon growing Kobe’s IT, business startup, and biomedical sectors.

Mayor Hisamoto presents at San Francisco's City Innovate Summit

Mayor Hisamoto presents at San Francisco’s City Innovate Summit

Mayor Hisamoto answering questions at San Francisco's City Innovate Summit

Mayor Hisamoto answering questions at San Francisco’s City Innovate Summit

Kobe Trade Information office looks forward to future visits from Mayor Hisamoto, and will continue to post information regarding the results of Mayor Hisamoto’s exchanges with the local governments and organizations of Seattle, San Francisco, and the Silicon Valley.

Mayor of Kobe Visits San Francisco & Seattle

2015/06/16 News
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Mayor Hisamoto shake hands after signing the Letter of Intent for business exchange

On June 11th, a delegation from Kobe joined KTIO’s Director Tetsuya Sometani in assisting Mayor Kizō Hisamoto with a visit to San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Seattle. Mayor Hisamoto has come to the West Coast with a deep interest in collaboration between aerospace, biomedical, IT, and community programs in both Washington state and California. Since arriving on the 11th, Mayor Hisamoto has met with numerous organizations and progressive thinkers–including Apple,  startup investment organization “500 Startups,” and Seattle’s own Mayor Ed Murray. Mayors Hisamoto and Murray met for the signing of an agreement that will foster partnership and exchange between Seattle and Kobe’s aerospace and IT industries.

Mayor Hisamoto, the Kobe delegation, and KTIO Director Tetsuya Sometani have returned to San Francisco to meet with the San Francisco Japanese consulate; exchange with San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee; participate in San Francisco’s City Innovation Summit; and much more.

Check back periodically for updates, photos, and videos from Mayor Hisamoto’s visit to San Francisco and Seattle. Read on for a photo stream of Mayor Hisamoto’s activities from the 11th through the 15th.

Mayor Hisamoto (2nd on left) and members of the Kobe delegation at Apple in Cupertino, CA

Mayor Hisamoto (2nd on left) and members of the Kobe delegation at Apple in Cupertino, CA

Mayor Hisamoto (3rd from right) and members of the Kobe delegation stand with Zafer Younis, a Venture Partner at 500 Startups

Mayor Hisamoto (3rd from right) and members of the Kobe delegation stand with Zafer Younis, a Venture Partner at 500 Startups

Mayor Hisamoto tours the Ferry Building and local farmer's market in San Francisco, CA

Mayor Hisamoto tours the Ferry Building and local farmer’s market in San Francisco, CA

Mayor Hisamoto and the Kobe delegation explore the local market of San Francisco's Ferry Building

Mayor Hisamoto and the Kobe delegation explore the local market of San Francisco’s Ferry Building

Mayor Hisamoto visits a "Hackathon" at San Francisco International Airport--an event where local computer programmers competed to innovate and improve upon travel apps

Mayor Hisamoto visits a “Hackathon” at San Francisco International Airport–an event where local computer programmers joined together to innovate and improve upon travel apps

Mayor Hisamoto learning more about the "Hackathon" project at San Francisco International Airport

Mayor Hisamoto learning more about the “Hackathon” project at San Francisco International Airport

Seattle's Mayor Ed Murray and Mayor Hisamoto signing an agreement of exchange between Seattle and Kobe's aerospace and IT industries

Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray and Mayor Hisamoto signing an agreement of exchange between Seattle and Kobe’s aerospace and IT industries

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Mayor Hisamoto shake hands after signing the Letter of Intent for business exchange

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Mayor Hisamoto shake hands after signing the Letter of Intent for business exchange

Mayors Murray and Hisamoto after the signing of the Letter of Intent

Mayors Murray and Hisamoto after the signing the Letter of Intent at City Hall, Seattle, WA

Greetings from our New Director, Tetsuya Sometani

2015/05/21 News
IMG_1930 (2)

IMG_1930 (2)

みなさん、こんにちは。

この度、神戸シアトルビジネスオフィスの所長に就任しました、染谷哲也です。どうぞよろしくお願いします。2015年4月1日、神戸市シアトル事務所は隣の部屋に移転し、兵庫県ワシントン州事務所と手を携えていくことになりました。写真の右は、河知所長です。

私にとって、シアトルは2度目になりますが、その間、20年以上の月日が流れ、シアトルの発展に驚いています。日本の経済がバブルといわれたころ、私はUnivertisy of Washington で経営学修士を取りました。そうです、私もHuskyなのです。
(UWのマスコットがハスキー犬であることから、UWの卒業生をHuskyと呼びます。)

20数年ぶりの米国生活に戸惑う事もありますが、力一杯がんばってまいりますので、皆さんよろしくお願いします。

染谷哲也

Dear All,

Welcome to our homepage. I am Tetsuya Sometani, the newly assigned Director for Kobe Trade Information Office (KTIO).

Seattle has been a very special place for me. More than 20 years ago, when Japan was in the midst of a bubble economy, I was a graduate student studying at the University of Washington, where I obtained an MBA. Yes, I am a husky! Time goes by quickly. I am amazed by so many changes and development since then.

On April 1st, KTIO moved and merged into the office of Hyogo Business & Cultural Center (HBCC).  I am looking forward to collaborating with HBCC to remain close and to grow our business together. (in the photo, shown right, HBCC’s new Director, Mr. Kawachi)

This year, the focus of KTIO will take a different direction to more business side rather than cultural exchange side.  It will be quite a challenge; however, I am thrilled for this opportunity and ready to start my new journey.

Being back here after 20 years of absence, I get bewildered in a long-forgotten environment.  Yet, I am so excited to be here to bring something valuable and meaningful for both city of Kobe and Seattle.  I will do my best and I appreciate all of your support.

Best regards,

Tetsuya Sometani