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110th Anniversary Dinner celebration at Hotel Okura

Now well into the second century since the historic founding of The Cambridge & Oxford Society, Tokyo, on the evening of Saturday 28th March, over 130 members and guests gathered at Hotel Okura for the Society’s 110th Anniversary Dinner celebration.

As at the previous dinners for the Society’s 100th Anniversary and Cambridge University 900th Anniversary, we were again honoured by the presence of HIH Princess Takamado (Girton, Cambridge 1972).

The setting for this special evening was the splendid Akebono-no-Ma in the Okura main building, followed by after-dinner drinks in the Baron Okura private wine bar, discreetly located on the top floor of the South Wing.

Festivities opened with a cocktail reception, with diners attired in black tie or evening dress getting into the spirit of the evening to the accompaniment of live jazz music expertly played by students from Keio University Medical School.

As we sat down to dinner, Tim Minton (St. John’s, Cambridge 1977), Honorary Secretary of the Society, opened the formal proceedings by reading out congratulatory messages received from the Vice-Chancellors of the two Universities.

Senior member, Masaji Takahashi (Jesus, Cambridge 1961) then proposed a toast to the continued prosperity of the Society and good health of all in attendance and dinner was served. Amidst lively conversation, diners enjoyed an excellent five-course meal and fine wines from Hotel Okura’s cellars.

As the dinner drew to a close, we were then treated to two excellent speeches. Firstly, Princess Takamado recalled her happy times at Girton College and her conversations years later with her daughter as to how much her experience at Cambridge had meant to her. Then, Julia Longbottom (Cambridge 1982), Minister (Deputy Head of Mission), British Embassy Tokyo, inspired memories all around the room of our own university days as she spoke of her experience in going up to Cambridge and finding her own place in the social whirl that sweeps up all new arrivals.

With dinner and speeches successfully concluded, it was then time for a brand new departure for formal C&O Society dinners – a good old rock and roll dance session. Indeed, this innovation proved to be most popular and warmly embraced by a good number of guests, both young and not so young. Definitely something to be tried again in future!

The main proceedings drew to a close at around 10:30pm. However, for the hardier (and still thirsty) souls among our number, after-dinner drinks at Baron Okura still beckoned. Some 50 guests made their way to the South Wing and the celebration then continued for a couple more hours aided by a free flow of wines, spirits and excellent cheese platters.

The Society’s 110th Anniversary was thus enthusiastically celebrated in fine and fitting style. Indeed as well as marking our own anniversary, this memorable dinner will prove to have been one of the final opportunities for guests to enjoy the facilities of the classic Hotel Okura main building, which will close later this year for full redevelopment ahead of the 2020 Olympics, as well as the Baron Okura wine bar which is due to be renovated over the coming summer.

Steven Thomas Merton College, Oxford 1979

Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Sat, 2015-03-28 09:00.
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