Top right: Liz Crain, editor; Below: Teruo Kurosaki, writer.

If Japan were to launch an intercontinental bullet train, odds are good it would run straight to Oregon.

Portland and Tokyo are in the midst of an intense love affair, and prominent Tokyo designer Teruo Kurosaki has played a big role in drawing his city’s trendiest to ours with a local guidebook, True Portland. This month, Hawthorne Books’ English translation launches with a trans-Pacific release party on June 22 at Reverend Nat’s Cidery.

Portland and Tokyo have had a free-flowing commercial exchange over the last few years, with Blue Star Donuts, Navarre, Voodoo Doughnut, Columbia Sportswear, and NikeLab opening stores in the Japanese capital, and acclaimed ramen shops (Marukin, Kizuki, and Afuri among them) putting down PDX roots.

“I think there’s a deeper relationship that’s been well established now,” says True Portland editor Liz Crain. “It’s not a fad anymore. That’s one of the many reasons we really wanted to publish this book.”

Crain says the guide is a love letter to makers and niche businesses around town, while to Tokyoites, Portland is a smaller, greener, and less dense version of their city—our metro area has some 2 million people to their 37 million.

“[Portland] combines a lot of what Tokyoites love about their city and then some, without the crush and with an outstanding ease of access,” she explains via email. “There’s a real focus on people and businesses that do one thing or a small handful of things extremely well—400-plus of them. Both Portland and Tokyo have heaps of niche-focused businesses with careful and appealing modern design, both cities are art-centric, and both cities—all of this lucky for us—have excellent gastronomy.”

While True Portland is mainly for visitors, residents can definitely glean a few novel ideas for a weekend staycation from the 48-hour itineraries by local art-scene insiders featuring favorite galleries and boutiques that may not be known to most.

“The primary reason why we wanted to publish it is that it’s a really smart, and smartly designed, well-curated guide to our city,” Crain says.


True Portland
by Teruo Kurosaki, edited by Liz Crain
(Hawthorne Books/Bridge Lab)