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Climb up Mt Takao and dinner at Ukai Toriyama

Saturday, 26th May.

The society has organized an annual climb up Takao-san for five years running now. The mountain is close to central Tokyo but feels like the real countryside. The climb in 2006 hit some unpleasant weather, with rain during much of the day. This year however the weather was excellent and the climb very pleasant indeed. We started the climb around 12:30 and made a very leisurely ascent enjoying the scenery and surrounding nature. We chose the route past the waterfall and up the river bank, winding our way around tree roots and descending travellers.

Takao-san climb 2007Takao-san climb 2007

We arrived at the top a little later than normal, having some Soba and beer for lunch. We were joined by Ed Whittaker, who had come separately. We descended in two groups, one taking the chairlift (the cable car was not operating) and the other choosing the road route. We were a little concerned about getting to Takao sanguchi in time to meet the bus, but this proved easier than expected.

We then went off to Ukai Toriyama in two groups and were escorted to a fine room overlooking the pond and waterwheel. The meal of aubergine, grilled chicken and various other delicacies was well received, as were copius quantities of 'bambooo sake'. After the meal we all walked around the gardens taking in the ambience and marvellous vistas, Ukai Toriyama is certainly a truly spectacular place.

We all returned safely to Tokyo after a wonderful day out.

HW, May 2007

Buffet Dinner at Nambutei, Hibiya Park

On Tuesday 23 April, 29 C&O members and guests (30 registrants, less one nefarious no-show) made the now-annual pilgrimage to the delightful Nambutei restaurant on the southern edge of Hibiya Park in central Tokyo.

Of those attending, no fewer than five were new members participating in their very first C&O event, as follows: Dr Yoshie Itani (St Hilda’s, Oxford, 2000~2006), Rev. Kevin Maddy (Selwyn, Cambridge, 1981~84), Dr Etsuo Morishita (Hughes Hall, Cambridge, 1980~82), Max Neuberger (Christ Church, Oxford, 2000~2003) and Sam Vardy (Jesus, Cambridge, 2001~2004).

The restaurant had laid on an excellent buffet dinner featuring a varied menu with a distinct continental theme. The food was accompanied by copious amounts of excellent wine, and the conversation flowed freely as members and guests congregated on the restaurant’s roofed patio.

After half an hour or so of convivial conversation and consumption, Terry Nakamura said a few words and introduced the new members. David Turner then gave the loyal toast, and Julian Culliford pointed out that, as well as being St George’s Day, it was also Shakespeare’s birthday (as well as the day that he died—possibly from a surfeit of birthday cake).

In any event, the food and wine would doubtless have given the Great Bard a new lease of life, and he would certainly have waxed lyrical about our choice of venue for the evening. The charm of this secluded restaurant is that you are liable to totally forget that you are still in the heart of the huge metropolis. The surrounding greenery and gentle ambiance dull the noise and stress of the city, and make for an extremely relaxing and convivial environment.
The evening drifted effortlessly on, as old friendships were renewed and new ones forged, and all too soon our time was nearly up.
There was just time for the cabaret entertainment, starring Alex Williams, before the assembled company said their goodbyes to one another and drifted out of the restaurant and into the warm spring night.

Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Sun, 2007-04-22 15:00.
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2007 C&O Annual Golf Tournament, Saturday, 31 March, 2007

Oxford draw level in varsity competition

On Saturday March 31st, twelve C&O members exhibiting a wide range of golfing prowess gathered once again at the Hodogaya Country Club in Yokohama to take part in the varsity competition and enjoy a day at one of Japan’s oldest and most exclusive courses.

Conquering a tricky breeze, Yasuzo Takeno (Worcester, Oxford) scored a net 75 that secured him first place by one stroke over Alex Miller (Somerville, Oxford), while in the varsity competition a strong all-round performance by the dark blues gave them a clear 14-stroke victory. The varsity competition now stands at 15 wins apiece since 1989 (the period for which records are available).

The fairways and greens were in good condition and the competition was held against a fine backdrop of early-flowering cherry trees and the usual friendly welcome from all at the Hodogaya club. Rain threatened at times but the weather stayed fair throughout the round. During morning play Simon Dalby (Trinity Hall, Cambridge) shot an inspiring 38 (gross) but during the afternoon, as the breeze freshened and the temperature dropped, for most players the greens became a little harder to find and scores fell off a little.

As ever, Terry Nakamura ensured that all arrangements went smoothly and we would also like to particularly thank Hodogaya members Takashi Uyeno and Peter Itoh for inviting us to their club for the day.

The next C&O golf tournament is scheduled to take place at the Windsor Park Golf and Country Club in Ibaraki Prefecture on Saturday 20th October.

John Sunley

2006 C&O Autumn Golf Outing to Izu Peninsula

Following a proposal that the autumn match should take the form of an overnight outing, Mr Peter Itoh kindly investigated possibilities at the Nasu Country Club. Subsequently, however, a package tour to Izu including onsen (i.e. hot spring) and golf was favoured over the initial idea of an onsen and golf package in Nasu, which is located in the north of Tochigi Prefecture: the Izu Peninsula can be relied upon to be much warmer in the late autumn! Consequently, Mr Kaneyoshi Kawamoto (King’s, Cambridge, 1968), who owns two Japanese inns in Yugashima Onsen (in the central area of the Izu Peninsula), was persuaded to offer us accommodations at his inn, Ryokan Renaissance Ochiai. He also kindly arranged for us to play a round at Izu Ohito Country Club, which is located in the northeast of the peninsula, about 25 minutes’ drive from the hotel.

Thus, on Friday, 28th October, ten people (seven members and three guests) gathered at the hotel before the night completely obscured the autumnal colours of the surrounding mountains. The hotel stands on a fast-running river that flows down the narrow valley of Yugashima Onsen, delighting guests with its constant babble. The main dish at dinner was the local speciality, Shishi-nabe (wild boar sukiyaki), along with tasty Japanese sake. Everyone enjoyed the hot spa after the dinner and retired rather early to bed (or actually futon) in their Japanese rooms. I made the mistake of spending too much time in the bath and, when I returned, one of my roommates was already snoring loudly. I knew I should have booked a single room! After a couple of hours’ sleep, I decided to get up early in the morning and have a splash in the hot onsen.

Later that morning (29th), nine of us departed at 7:15 am for Izu Ohito Country Club (one of the original ten had to go back to Tokyo in the morning). We were split into three groups of 3 players each. Arrangements had been made for commemorative photos to be taken by the golf club’s staff of all 9 players standing together on the No. 1 Hole teeing ground of the Hakone (out) Course, but in the end we did not make it: one participant had left his expensive German camera in his hotel room, and someone had to bring it all the way to the golf club! Another member found his hotel room key in his pocket, and the hotel insisted it had to be returned. It took us a while to change the arrangements before the first group’s tee-off at 8:25 am. The weather was not wet, but it was so foggy that you stood little chance of finding your ball if your first drive was not straight. Also, the first drive had to be good enough to get your ball across a deep valley hidden in the fog in front of the teeing ground. The caddie warned us of this, but I still lost a new ball. It was a bad omen, and the tribulations of the morning and lack of sleep did not help me to feel better. Luckily, however, the morning fog quickly cleared up and the afternoon turned out to be a warm and sunny one. Everyone had finished their round by 3 pm, and we all gathered for post-golf drinks in the dining hall. The sun sliding down behind the Izu mountains, viewed from the balcony of the club house’s dining hall, was very impressive.

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Sat, 2006-10-28 15:00.
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Dinner at The Tokyo Club

A seated dinner was organised at The Tokyo Club on Thursday, 19th October. The bar opened at 6:15 pm, an hour before dinner. Twenty-five gentlemen and six ladies enjoyed a full-course French dinner, accompanied by good Claret, Châteaux Cadillac 2003, the Club’s house wine, lasting 2 hours. Three new members were introduced: Pedro da Costa (Balliol, Oxford, 2000 and Wolfson, Cambridge, 2006), Daniel Gallimore (Christ Church, Oxford, 1984 and Linacre, Oxford, 1997) and Alex Miller (Somerville, Oxford, 1997).

Hors-d’Oeuvre Variés
Consommé Madarilène
Filet de Daurade poêlé Beurre blanc
Tournedos Nichette, Légumes
Salade de Saison

Cost: 6,500 yen

The above dinner was just one of the Society’s monthly events organised as part of the 2nd half programme for 2006, i.e. it was not a special event, and no VIPs or senior visitors from the Universities were present. However, I think a few words about the Society’s relationship with The Tokyo Club would be appropriate.

The Tokyo Club, which was founded in May 1884, was in fact the birthplace of The Cambridge & Oxford Society, Tokyo. In the late 19th century, both Japanese and British graduates of the Universities used to get together in the Club’s bar, and at the turn of the century (probably in 1905) they agreed officially to found a joint club and to name it The Cambridge & Oxford Society. (If you would like to know why Cambridge came before Oxford, please read the history page of the Society’s website: Subsequently, The Tokyo Club became the main venue for the Society’s Annual Dinners and other informal activities until January 1942.

After the War, in February 1950, the C&O Society was reconstituted, and it was decided that its activities would take place at various locations in Tokyo. The membership at that time was relatively small and predominantly male. Since then, the Society has grown dramatically in size and now numbers almost 300 members, many of whom are, happily, lady graduates of both Universities. When Tokyo Club moved to new premises in Roppongi in June 2005, the rules were relaxed to allow ladies access as guests to the Club’s dining room and certain other function halls in the evening. The C&O Committee decided to take advantage of these changes in the rules to organise two dinners a year at this historical venue.

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Wed, 2006-10-18 15:00.
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Overnight climb to the summit of Mt Fuji

The society decided to have an August event in 2006, in the form of a climb up Mount Fuji (3776m).

The group congregated at the Shinjuku Chuo bus terminal just before 11am and boarded the bus in good time. In spite of some traffic on the route (particularly on the approach to Mt Fuji) we arrived at the Yoshidaguchi 5th station just a little behind schedule at 1:45pm or so. The weather was intermittently sunny and cloudy, but we could see far up the mountain during breaks in the clouds.

Phil Robertson had taken another route and we decided to have some ramen for lunch while we waited for him to arrive.

After meeting up we set off from the 5th station at around 3pm. The weather started to close in as passed the 6th station and became rather unpleasant for an hour or so as we moved past the 7th station. Visibility dropped to a few feet with quite a fall in temperature too. There were some murmurs about whether the climb was really a good idea, but as the weather cleared up and we could see again everyone became happier. There was quite a crowd climbing the mountain so we had to queue up in several places which slowed down our ascent considerably.

After several hours of climbing it started to rain again just as we reached our mountain hut – the Fuji-san Hotel, between 8th and 9th stations somewhat after dark. The accommodation was basic but following a simple curry rice meal with some sake we all retired to the communal hut bunk beds.

The hut staff woke everyone up before 1:30am in the morning and we kitted up for the final climb to the summit. The weather was still difficult with scattered showers and mist. We left the hut for the top and joined the huge crowd for the final ascent. At times it seemed like Shibuya crossing, but eventually the summit was in sight and suddenly the cloud lifted giving a spectacular view across a clear sky to the horizon. There were cheers from the crowd as everyone took in the sunrise.

Posted in | Submitted by huw.williams on Fri, 2006-08-25 15:00.
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Joint event with Harvard Club of Japan

Mr Thierry Porte, President of Harvard Club of Japan and President and CEO of Shinsei Bank kindly made Shinsei Bank’s magnificent 20th-floor Reception Hall available for this event. The hall overlooks Hibiya Park and commands spectacular views of central Tokyo. It also has an excellent acoustic, which was fortuitous as we had the pleasure of the company of The Choir of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge for the evening.

This was the second joint event we have held with Harvard Club. The first was a party at Tokyo American Club in July, 2003, which was gracefully attended by T.I.H. the Crown Prince and Princess. They were unfortunately unable to join us this time.

I imagined that we would be competing with Harvard Club on the attendance front, as we did in 2003. That contest resulted in a draw (sixty-something from each side), but this time they offered little competition: 15 Harvard members and guests vs. 95 C&O members and guests! There were five no-shows (2 Harvard [one of them a guest] and 3 C&O [two of them guests]), leaving 147 of the 152 people on the list in attendance. The figures include the 28 visitors from St Catharine’s together with 14 members of the Tokyo Baroque Choir, who were hosting St Catharine’s Choir while they were in Tokyo.

Drinks were served from 6.30, and a little after 7 p.m. Thierry Porte made a speech of welcome on behalf of Harvard Club and Shinsei Bank. Martin Hatfull, British Chargé d’Affaires, replied on behalf of C&O. With the twilit Tokyo skyline in the background, the Choir then performed the first of their slots under their Director, Dr Edward Wickham. The programme included two anthems by Gibbons and Byrd and a set of three anthems by Stanford. This created a somber, contemplative atmosphere rather untypical of C&O events but appreciated all the more for its rarity. It was complemented by a moving performance of Schubert’s Improptu in G flat by Ben Winstanley, one of the choir’s tenors, on the piano. Charles Crawford, a former senior bursar of St Catharine’s College accompanying the Choir on their tour, then made a short speech on behalf of the College and presented gifts to the organizers of the event (Porte, Nakamura and Minton).

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Wed, 2006-07-12 15:00.
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Buffet Dinner, Roppongi Hills Club

The Star Bar, RHC 51st floor, Roppongi Hills,
Thursday, 22nd June, 2006 (18:30 – 21:00).

Roppongi Hills Club opened in 2003 and was still something of a novelty when we held an event there in July, 2004. As far as we knew, there were no RHC members in C&O, but Huw Williams, one of our Honorary Secretaries, knew Ian Powell, who was. Through the latter’s good offices a location within the Club (Meridiana) was assigned, the date (Friday, 9th July, 2004) was fixed, and we started accepting applications to attend. Frankly, with all due appreciation to Ian, it was a slightly disappointing event: the attendance was better than average (46), but the food was pretentious, overpriced and, more to the point, insubstantial. The evening was redeemed to a large extent by the wonderful views, company and the fact that the then Australian Ambassador, John McCarthy, had very kindly arranged to have the 37 bottles of excellent Australian wine left over from his party for C&O the previous month delivered to the Club. Needless to say, RHC levied a heavy corkage charge on these, which was part of the reason we had to charge our self-imposed maximum attendance fee (except for extraordinary events like the Centenary) of 8,000 yen. We decided that, interesting as it had been to see RHC, it was not a venue we would use in the future.

We heard earlier this year, however, that the Club was now under new management, and Ian Powell assured us that we would be better looked after if we organised another event there. Three of the Hon Secs joined Ian Powell for a visit to the Club on 23rd March to meet one of the new management team. We were shown The Star Bar and told that we could have it for our exclusive use and that if the event attracted more than forty people we could also have the adjoining library/sitting room. We mentioned that the last time we had used the Club everyone had left hungry and were assured that this would not happen again. We wondered aloud whether it would be necessary to bring in our own wine, as we had done last time. No, we were told: wine and other drinks would be served on a nomihoudai (all-you-can-drink) basis. By this time we felt that we were on a rather strong footing, so it was time to discuss the price. To cut a long story short, we settled on 6,000 yen per person, which struck us as a very good deal!

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Thu, 2006-06-22 03:12.
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Visit to Mt Takao and Dinner at Ukai Toriyama

My day started with a flurry of phone calls from people who had looked out of the window and decided they would take the 'dinner only' option after all. Rain was indeed forecast for the entire day, the first time the annual C&O Takao outing had not been blessed with clement weather. (The first such outing was in May, 2002.) Still, the forecast was only for light rain, so I felt no inclination to invoke the torrential rain cancellation clause!
I got to Takaosanguchi Station around 11.15 to await the other participants, most of whom would be arriving on the tokkyu due in at 11.48. It was then that I noticed a text message from my daughter, telling me that the train had been delayed because of an accident at Rokakoen Station. In the event, it was only a 10-minute delay, so all 18 of the intrepid hikers remaining on the list were to be seen setting off from the station soon after 12.00. It was an extremely good mix of people, with ages ranging from the early twenties to early eighties: Hugh Wilkinson had celebrated his 80th birthday the previous day. The Cambridge/Oxford, male/female, Japanese/non-Japanese ratios were good, as usual. We were also pleased to welcome two new members, Yuki Iida (Linacre Oxford) and Eisuke Kawano (St Catherine’s Oxford), to the Society on this rather damp occasion.
We decided to take the main route up for the first time ever, the fact that it is paved appearing to be an advantage given the weather. This afforded us the opportunity to peer through the mist at Takaosan Yakuou-in, which, with its fine collection of tengu, was actually well worth seeing. From the temple, it is a fairly short walk to the top, where we arrived shortly before 2 p.m. On previous visits the summit had always resembled some of the more popular parts of central Tokyo in terms of the number of people milling around, but this time it was virtually deserted. Only one of the refreshment shacks was open, so we took it over, leaving the tatami for the younger members of the party. The hut’s owners were obviously very pleased to get any customers at all, as evidenced by the two boxes of chocolates and two bags of crisps they gave us as omiyage as we left a little before three.

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Fri, 2006-05-26 15:00.
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Following a tradition going back to the 1930s, the C&O Society’s annual golf tournament was held at Hodogaya Country Club in Yokohama. The date chosen for this year’s tournament was Saturday, 18th March.

The first group of four players teed-off from No. 10 hole at 08:18 a.m. They were followed by the 2nd and 3rd groups at 6-minute intervals. Altogether, ten keen members sallied forth merrily and hopefully. Six were from Cambridge and four from Oxford. Unfortunately, our current President, Sir Graham Fry, an Oxford man, is not a golfer. We were told before setting out that the course condition couldn’t be better. However, the putting greens at Hodogaya CC are reputed to be exceptionally subtle and fast running – especially in the morning. No one could complain about the weather, though: it was warm and sunny, and there was no wind at all.

The first group finished the 18 holes at about 2 o’clock. Simon Dalby (Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 1977), a one-time Cambridge golf blue, returned home with gross 77 strokes (41 and 36), which no one managed to beat, so the winner’s trophy, presented by Dr Ohtawa, went to him. He would be the first to admit that Steven Thomas’s (Merton, Oxford, 1979) absence—he is in Hong Kong for the year—was a stroke of luck. Steven was an Oxford golfing blue and has long been Simon’s arch rival. Overall, Cambridge beat Oxford this year by a narrow margin of 4 strokes in the C&O Varsity match.

At the post-golf party it was proposed that we should explore, as a change, the possibility of an overnight outing for the 2006 autumn golf match. The idea was to spend a Saturday night at a country lodge and to tee-off early the following morning. The dates proposed were Saturday, 14th October or Saturday, 18th November. Peter T. Itoh (Pembroke, Cambridge, 1966) volunteered to find out what Nasu Country Club in Tochigi Prefecture might offer.

In addition to the two gentlemen referred to above, Simon Dalby and Peter Itoh, the following also took part in the 2006 tournament at Hodogaya CC (their scores are recorded in the C&O golf book):

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Fri, 2006-03-17 15:00.
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