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The Cambridge & Oxford Society of Tokyo celebrates its Centenary.


The Cambridge & Oxford Society of Tokyo celebrates its Centenary.

Not all Oxford & Cambridge related activity takes place in Great Britain. We thought that members would be interested in this account by Teruhisa Nakamura, a member, of a recent function in Japan.

At 6 pm, on Saturday, 26 March 2005, one hundred and fifty-seven ladies and gentlemen, ranging in age from their 20s to 90s, gathered at Okura Shukokan Museum of Art located less than 100 yards from the main entrance of Hotel Okura in central Tokyo. We had hired the venue especially for the pre-dinner reception for members and guests who had come to attend the Centenary Dinner of The Cambridge & Oxford Society, Tokyo (C&O). Shortly after 8 p.m. they walked back to the Hotel. At 8:32 p.m. H.I.H. Princess Takamado (Girton Cambridge, 1972) graciously took her seat at the high table in the Hotel's Continental Banquet Room. Most of the gentlemen were in black bow tie but a Scotsman in a kilt and a senior DPhil businessman from Malawi in imposing national dress with a cap attracted attention. The ladies were also well turned out, mostly in long dresses. However, an Indian lady guest turned out in an elegant sari and some Japanese ladies came in gorgeous kimono. Fourteen overseas colleagues joined us - six from Malaysia, five from Hong Kong, and three from the UK.

Graham Fry (Brasenose Oxford, 1968), President of the C&O Society and British Ambassador to Japan, opened the proceedings by reading out congratulatory messages received from the Vice Chancellors of the two Universities and from Oxford University Society and Cambridge Society representing the universities' alumni associations. During the coffee, the attending presidents of The Oxford & Cambridge Societies of Malaysia and Hong Kong respectively rose to present their gifts to the C&O Society of Tokyo. After the gift presentation ceremony, Graham Fry delivered an excellent Centenary speech. Then, Sir Stephen Gomersall, (Queens’ Cambridge, 1966), the immediate past president of the C&O Society, gave a most amusing post-dinner speech which ended by asking the audience to stand up and raise their glasses to Oxbridge's “blue genes.” At 10:30 p.m., H.I.H. Takamado, Mr and Mrs Graham Fry, Sir Stephen Gomersall, and some 90 members and guests moved on to Baron Okura Room for the traditional port & cigars. Convivial post-dinner drinks continued well into the early hours. It was a very long but most enjoyable and memorable day.

The Centenary Dinner was the climax of various events organised on three consecutive days and nights during the 2005 Easter weekend. The celebrations opened on Friday, March 25th with a Centenary Golf match at Shin Numazu Country Club near Mt. Fuji, which was followed by a Welcome Dinner at Ark Hills Club in Akasaka. The next day, we went on a lunchtime Tokyo Bay Cruise on the yacht Lady Crystal, and the more adventurous among us then proceeded to an Edo-style Onsen (Hot Spa) in Odaiba. These activities were to whet our appetites for the Centenary Dinner on the evening of Saturday March 26. On Easter Sunday, the British Ambassador and Mrs Fry hosted an Afternoon Tea in the garden of the Ambassador’s Residence in the Embassy compound. H.I.H. The Crown Prince (Merton Oxford, 1983) honoured us with his presence. In the evening, 39 dauntless Oxbridge men and women who were still on their feet went on to an informal sit-down dinner and drinks at Gonpachi, a noisy cosmopolitan yakitori pub in the Nishi Azabu district. The 27th being Easter Monday, the visitors from Malaysia and Hong Kong were reluctant to return to their home countries and organised an extra programme of an early lunch at a Sushi restaurant in the neighbourhood of Tokyo’s famous Tsukiji fish market.

At 100, The Cambridge & Oxford Society, Tokyo, is the oldest alumni association of the two universities outside the United Kingdom and is possibly second in age only to Oxford and Cambridge Club of London. In fact, its earlier members argued in the bar of Tokyo Club, founded in 1884, why C should come before O in the name of the Society.

For further information about the C & O Society's origins and history, please visit Centenary Booklets and a CD facsimile of the early minutes of the Society have been presented to the Library of the Oxford & Cambridge Club of London, to the Bodleian and to Cambridge University Library.


Teruhisa Nakamura (Worcester, Oxford 1964),
Honorary Secretary.
(10 June, 2005)

Posted in | Submitted by terry.nakamura on Fri, 1995-06-09 15:00.
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