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Concert by the Choir of St Catharine’s College Cambridge

Thu Concert by the Choir of St Catharine’s College Cambridge, followed by a Reception.

July 13
New Hall, British Embassy

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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Early Summer Party at the British Ambassador’s Residence

Early Summer Party at the British Ambassador's Residence

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Triennial General Meeting followed by Seated Dinner, Tokyo Club

Triennial General Meeting followed by Seated Dinner, Tokyo Club.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006, (18:00 – 21:00)


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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Reception to welcome Dr. Jon Dellandrea, pro Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University

Joint reception with OUS to welcome Dr. Jon Dellandrea, pro Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Ginza Tobu Hotel

Tuesday, 7 March 2006

Cheese and Wine Tasting at the British Embassy

Cheese and Wine Tasting, sponsored by Diageo Moet-Hennessy KK, New Hall, British Embassy.

Friday, 17 February 2006

Centenary Event Reports

Centenary Golf Match at Shin Numazu Country Club, 25th March, 2005

The ‘final list’ for the Centenary Golf Match included eleven names, but two hard-working British businessmen, perhaps in imitation of their pre-bubble Japanese counterparts, had to cancel the day before, citing ‘pressure of work’. Among the nine who did participate were one former President of C&O, Sir Stephen Gomersall from the UK, and two former Presidents of the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Hong Kong, Colin Cohen and Peter Earnest Wong. These overseas visitors were cordially welcomed by the C&O Golf members in attendance represented by Steven Thomas.
There were two potential pitfalls to this the first event in the Centenary programme: traffic conditions and the weather.
The golf course is located a little over 100 kilometres from the Tokyo entrance to the Tomei Expressway, which links Tokyo with Nagoya, where it then joins another motorway to Osaka and eventually Kyushu. Needless to say, the traffic is usually heavy in both directions. Tony Fordyce and Rupert Middle were kind enough to rise very early in the morning and collect the three visitors from Hotel Okura. Fortunately the traffic was running smoothly and everyone arrived on time, having enjoyed on the way the splendid view of snow-capped Mt Fuji nestling behind the Hakone mountains.
The organiser of this event, Tomoyuki Imai, had been planning to travel to Numazu on Thursday evening, but the second of the potential pitfalls prevented him from doing so. Much to his consternation, the clouds rolled in and the Kanto Plain was lashed by torrential rain, high winds, thunder and lightning. However, Friday 25th dawned bright and clear, although it was still rather windy and cold. These favourable weather conditions prevailed throughout the day, and indeed the entire weekend, and added to the splendour of the scenery. The mountains of the Izu Peninsula rising out of Suruga Bay were clearly visible above the greens and through the tall trees of the golf course, and the whole combined to form a beautiful picture. Colin Cohen asked what the large ‘lake’ (Suruga Bay) was called!

Posted in | Submitted by tim.minton on Sun, 2005-03-27 15:00.
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