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Buffet Dinner at Mitsubishi Club, 11th July, 2008

11th July, 2008, 18:30 to 21:00
Mitsubishi Shoji Building (21st Floor), 2-3-1 Marunouchi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Mitsubishi Club is a private and very exclusive club which was founded in 1973 by the 29 Mitsubishi group companies to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the group. In this context, only VIP members of the 29 Mitsubishi group companies can use this club. On this occasion, Buhei Okumura (Trinity, Cambridge 1954), one of our honorary secretaries, kindly arranged for C&O members and their guests to be given access to Mitsubishi Club for our Society’s main July event.

Mitsubishi Club 2008 Group PhotoMitsubishi Club 2008 Group Photo
Mitsubishi Club is located on the 21st floor (the top floor, about 100 metres above ground level) of the new Mitsubishi Shoji Building. Mitsubishi Shoji (Mitsubishi Corporation) is one of the leading members of the Mitsubishi Club. The new Mitsubishi Shoji Building was completed on 31st March, 2006, and is located just behind the Marunouchi Building (Maru Biru) near Tokyo Station. When we entered the party room, which was a self-contained area of the Club, we were astonished by the spectacular view of the Imperial Palace.
Mitsubishi Club 2008 Group Photo 2Mitsubishi Club 2008 Group Photo 2
After half an hour or so of sociable conversation and of enjoying the wonderful views, Bu Okumura gave a speech of welcome, in which he briefly talked about Mitsubishi Club. Actually, 37 people had signed up for the party, but three of them failed to show up. Among the 34 attendees, there were 7 guests, including a young undergraduate, Mr Yuki Kato (a guest of Julian Culliford), who had just finished his first academic year at Trinity College, Cambridge, and is spending his summer holiday at home. Also, a member of the Harvard Club of Japan, Mr. Paul Greenberg, attended our party as a guest of Giovanni Bianchi (Christ Church, Oxford 2000). The assembled party enjoyed animated conversation over a buffet dinner, wine and other drinks. At the end of the party, Terry Nakamura (Worcester, Oxford 1964), Honorary Secretary, introduced a new member, John Yamamoto-Wilson (Magdalene, Cambridge 1971), and then Huw Williams (Clare, Cambridge 1980) spoke of a BBQ party planned on Saturday, 13 September 2008 at Odaiba.
Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Fri, 2008-07-11 09:30.
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Mount Takao and Ukai Toriyama, May 24th 2008

Saturday, May 24th.
It was with the weather forecast threatening rain that we optimistically gathered outside Takao-sanguchi station for a (not so) bright and breezy midday start to our day of hiking and dining on May 24th. Some stragglers (namely Charlotte Lewis and myself) were somewhat late having been enthralled by the Trick Art Museum a couple of minutes away, warily suggested to us all by Tim Minton. We finally escaped its maze of rooms with hidden doors – tricky indeed - pausing for some quick shots in the mouth of a great painted gorilla on the way, to join the party and set off on the hike.
Mt Takao & Ukai Toriyama - streamMt Takao & Ukai Toriyama - stream
The first few drops of rain ominously started to fall, and those of us who were somewhat unprepared for inclement weather were relieved to hear that Phil’s backpack was full of assorted jumpers and provisions. Luckily the rain stopped soon after, and didn’t bother us for the rest of the walk. In fact the weather was perfect hiking weather, neither too hot nor too cold.
Some of our party broke off to climb the mountain in a cable car while the rest of us carried up and on by foot. Passing through the greenery and along mountain streams, the walk was very pleasant although increasingly strenuous as we neared the top.
As we walked we talked, changing conversational partners as we variously fell behind or caught up, muttering the odd greeting to those passing in the other direction. Occasionally we’d pass Chris Parry going in one direction and then the other as he put us all to shame by nimbly running up and down and along the mountain range all day.
Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Sat, 2008-05-24 02:00.
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Nambutei buffet dinner, 22 April 2008

Nambutei Buffet Dinner, 22 April 2008

On Tuesday 22 April, 34 C&O members and guests made the annual Society pilgrimage to the charming restaurant Nambutei, which stands on the southern edge of Tokyo’s Hibiya Park. Tucked away in the trees, out of sight of Kokkai-dori, the busy main road, Nambutei provides a welcome haven from the bustle of the frenetic metropolis.

Nambutei buffet dinner group photo 2008Nambutei buffet dinner group photo 2008

In attendance at the buffet dinner were three new members, Dr Ken Shackleton (The Queen’s, Oxford, 1998–2002), James Thomas (St Anne’s, Oxford, 1997–2001) and Anthony Walker (Trinity, Cambridge, 1995–1999), and two visitors, Toshiyuki Yamanaka (St Edmund’s, Cambridge), the honorary secretary of the Kansai Chapter of C&O, and Clive Galliver (Trinity, Cambridge), who was on a visit to Japan.

As always, the restaurant laid on a magnificent buffet spread, which was devoured with alacrity by the assembled throng—the Pasta Bolognese disappearing at particularly impressive speed. The food was washed down with copious amounts of good wine, and the buzz of animated conversation drifting out from the restaurant patio into the night air made the venue that much easier for late-comers to find.

After an hour or so of conviviality, Terry Nakamura quieted the hubbub and introduced the new members and visitors. Tim Minton then made a few society announcements and conveyed the sad news that our much-loved current president, Sir Graham Fry, would soon be leaving Japan to return home to Britain—his tenure as ambassador at an end. (Happily, however, his diplomatic successor David Warren is due to take over the reins as Society president also.) Tim appealed to the assembled company for ideas for a parting gift for Sir Graham, noting that he is a keen bird-watcher. The more ribald suggestions being ignored, it was decided that the society would buy the ambassador a print depicting avian life in Japan.
Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Tue, 2008-04-22 09:00.
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Dinner at Tokyo Kaikan's Crystal Restaurant Kasumigaseki Bldg, 24th March 2008

On March 24th we gathered for the very first, and also, very last time at Tokyo Kaikan's Crystal Restaurant on the 35th floor of the Kasumigaseki Building. The restaurant was to close down very soon as the building is due to be redeveloped.
Tokyo Kaikan Dinner 2008Tokyo Kaikan Dinner 2008
Around 20 members attended making for rather a cosy atmosphere. The assembled party enjoyed a buffet dinner and took in spectacular night views along Sotobori-dori to the towers of Shiodome and the Tokyo Bay Bridge beyond. We welcomed one new member, Prof. Yamada, and also said goodbye to another, Pedro Da Costa who was returning to Portugal to take up a research post in Oporto. Doreen Simmons took the opportunity to point out to all those present the significance of the Kasumigaseki Building: when it was built in 1968, it had been the first building in Tokyo permitted to exceed 8 storeys. We may nowadays take for granted buildings of 30 and 40 storeys plus springing up all over the city but the Kasumigaseki Building was the pioneer. Simon Lloyd added that he had worked on the 32nd floor for many years and that, although in 1968 it was said that the building had been built to a standard that was 300% better than the required anti-earthquake safety measures of the time, experiencing an earthquake whilst on the 32nd floor was really a rather frightening experience.
Tokyo Kaikan Dinner 2008 -2Tokyo Kaikan Dinner 2008 -2
Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Mon, 2008-03-24 09:30.
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2008 Spring Golf Tournament at Hodogaya, Saturday 22 March

Hodogaya 2008 Group PhotoHodogaya 2008 Group Photo
The dawn chorus had scarcely subsided under the first shafts of morning light when a perfectly matched group of eight from each university assembled for the first championship of the 2008 season. Led by their respective yokozuna Thomas (Oxford) and Dalby (Cambridge), both teams fizzed with anticipation as veterans Sato (Oxford) and Gomersall (Cambridge) squared off for their first shots from the downy yellow of the first tee. In the absence of lady players, Hodogaya’s soft-bosomed (but always mischievous) nature supplied ample decoration of pink, crimson and white with its vestments of plum, magnolia and camellia, as the four flights led off with the usual competitive intent. Some dallied so deeply within the welcoming bush that scores in excess of 50 were not uncommon, though honours were still pretty even, as the sides negotiated the uphill ninth to come in for a 10.30 lunch.
Hodogaya 2008 FairwayHodogaya 2008 Fairway
The second nine however brought out true form. Dalby, piqued by a few missed approaches in the matinal session, slipped into top gear. The dapper Takeno (Oxford) kept cool, and even Minton (Cambridge), a Hodogaya virgin, negotiated the curves and hillocks as if he had fondled them for years. Cambridge saved a few points in the final stretch due to the lake alongside holes 16 and 17 being drained and “under repair”, but when the final reckoning came, it was probably the steadiness of Oxford’s senior member, Sato, who carded a cheery 44 in the back nine, which gave Oxford their narrow overall victory of four shots for their 17th championship against Cambridge’s 15. As the non-alcohol beer flowed among the driving members, Takeno placed his hands on the coveted individual trophy, and an impromptu committee of elders judged that his swing had been so fluid for a player of middling handicap that the latter was summarily reduced by 5. Accepting this with true British decency, the victor brought proceedings to a close with much deserved thanks to the society’s Secretary for providing the perfect weather and setting for another close and rewarding match.
Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Sat, 2008-03-22 00:00.
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2007 Bonenkai at International House of Japan

As in years past the Society held its End-of-Year party at the International House of Japan in Roppongi on December 19th 2007.

Bonenkai Dec 2007 - 1

Bonenkai Dec 2007 - 4

Bonenkai Dec 2007 - 5

The venue as usual did not disappoint. The kitchens excelled themselves and there was plenty of both food and wine to go around. The 19th was unusually cold, and members were therefore unable to walk in the gardens.

Our bonenkai is usually held of Fridays, and it was feared that the date falling on a Wednesday would have deterred most. But of the 62 who had registered, only one failed to make it. A very good turnout indeed. Your rapporteur also noticed plenty of new faces of the younger generation, confirming the view that the Society's future is very much assured.

Bonenkai Dec 2007 - 3

What was the point of the raffle tickets? A spoof? Everyone who attended left with the same present: a bottle of wine. It was a slight surprise that most chose the white, ignoring the red, which is promoted in Japan as the healthier. Perhaps our members are not health conscious, or perhaps they just ignore popular trends. [Both (or should that be neither?), of course—Ed]

All in all, a good time was had by all. Your rapportuer looks forward to the next bonenkai.

Bonenkai Dec 2007 - 6

Bonenkai Dec 2007 - 2: Louis, the rapportuer, enjoying a drinkLouis, the rapportuer, enjoying a drink

Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Wed, 2007-12-19 09:00.
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Dinner at Tokyo Club, 31st October, 2007

By now our members are no strangers to the handsome clubhouse in Roppongi 1-chome, on the same road as the Swedish Embassy, the American Embassy and the Hotel Okura, and almost in the shadow of the gigantic Ark Hills. On Wednesday 31st October 51 Camford members and guests gathered for dinner. The 6:15 for 7:00 starting time gave the early birds an opportunity to socialize over a glass of wine or two; those of us whose work goes on to a little later may have missed the conversation but were kindly allowed to catch up on the wine.

The Tokyo Club is a private and very exclusive club that only a year or two back began to allow outside parties to use the premises, provided that they were arranged by a member, and on this occasion our ‘host’ Terry Nakamura began the evening by reading us our rights, or more strictly, defining the spaces available for our use. Apart from the usual facilities we had a very nice private dining room, and after dinner, the spacious lobby outside for final drinks. Terry stressed that the Library, which was on the same floor, was out-of-bounds to non-Members, but we had, after all, gone there to eat and drink in good company and no-one seemed tempted to trespass.

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 1Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 1

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 2Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 2

So that we would know what we were eating, Terry had also kindly obtained a translation of the menu, which was all in French. The food, in whatever language, was right up to the usual standard, though before the dessert the waiters seemed a little bemused to carry away so many untouched salads; it appears that many of the British and British-educated still have not taken to the American custom of serving a salad on the side.

Two new members were introduced (Jenny Barb [Clare Cambridge 1978] and Hisao Shiomi [Faculty of Law, Cambridge, 2002]) along with one returnee (Jason James, King’s Cambridge 1983).

Though the Roppongi premises are now the home of the Tokyo Club, its former site in front of the Kasumigaseki Building has gone through yet another transformation. September 26th saw the opening of the new Tokyo Club Building, partly owned by the club, whose immediate impact is as the home of some up-market restaurants.

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 3Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 3

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 4Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 4

Tim and Huw looking far too serious, and Phil thinking of something to say to the photographer.

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 5Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 5

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 6Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 6

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 7Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 7

After the dinner at the Tokyo Club, we moved on to a Nijikai at Aux Bacchanale in Ark Hills. We were a little pressed for time with only ten minutes to last orders. But a very pleasant autumn evening with plenty of wine to keep us going.

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 8Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 8

Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007  - 9Tokyo Club Dinner Oct 2007 - 9

As before we are grateful to Terry Nakamura for arranging for us to have a very pleasant evening. Now that Tim Minton has also become a club member, perhaps we have a back-up.

Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Wed, 2007-10-31 18:00.
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2007 Autumn Golf Outing to Windsor Park Country Club, Ibaragi October 20-21.

Inspirational round from Oxford Ace, Miller, puts Dark Blues ahead.

Golf 2007 Ibaraki Group Photo

The series tied at 15-15, a group of ten assembled at lunchtime on Saturday in near perfect conditions and put in half a round in order to sharpen our games for the tournament on Sunday. An early indication of intent was given by Alex Miller, who drove the green of the par 4 seventh, which clearly unsettled the Cambridge contingent and gave heart to his Oxford team-mates.

Golf 2007 Ibaraki Nineteenth Hole

However, by midnight it looked like all attempts to sharpen our games had been futile; 12 bottles of wine, dessert wine and a bottle of port later, it seemed unlikely that the quality of golf on Sunday would be of the normal caliber.

Four hours later, the loyal England supporters in our party were watching the Rugby World Cup final (which sadly England lost to South Africa) and were looking doubtful for a 7.30 tee-off.

Golf 2007 Ibaraki Camford Room
Then at 6.30 History was made; for the first time in its 20 year history, The Windsor Park Country club hosted a party in the Oxford and Cambridge Suite for the Cambridge and Oxford Society, and Champagne flowed.

Golf 2007 Ibaraki Fairway

Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Sun, 2007-10-21 00:00.
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Second Tuesday 9 Oct 2007

Some photos from the 9 October 2007 second tuesday meeting at the Ginza Tobu Hotel.

From left, Ms Emma Whitehouse, Mr Huw Williams, Mr Phil Robertson and Mr Terry Nakamura

Second Tuesday 9 Oct 2007

From left, Mr David Turner, Mr Julian Culliford, Mr Chris Parry and Dr Hisao Shiomi

Second Tuesday 9 Oct 2007 (b)

Odaiba Day

On Saturday 8th September the Society held the "Odaiba Day" events.
The first event was the visit to Oedo Onsen Monogatari, the urban onsen which some members had enjoyed on the occasion of the Society's 100th anniversary celebrations in 2005. This time 7 members and guests gathered to take the plunge and enjoy the somewhat confusing experience of old Edo in the ultra-modern surroundings of Odaiba.

The 7, fully revitalised and refreshed by their bathing, joined another
12 attendees at the Shiokaze no Koen barbecue area quite close to the waterside. As it turned out, the onsen had provided relaxation for muscles and sinews that would soon need to go straight into action assembling tables, chairs and barbecues themselves.

Odaiba Day - Group activitiesOdaiba Day - Group activities

Odaiba Day - Julian hard at workOdaiba Day - Julian hard at work

The scene resembled something out of the Krypton Factor or an Army Officer Initiative Course as Cambridge and Oxford graduates of all ages and both sexes struggled to understand exactly how the subtle catches and sliding pieces slotted into place.

Odaiba Day - Ladies at workOdaiba Day - Ladies at work

Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Sat, 2007-09-08 05:00.
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