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REMINISCENCES OF DOREEN SIMMONS

Reminiscences of Doreen Simmons (Girton, 1950-53; Hughes Hall, 1953-54)
Joined January 28, 1976: 29 years a member

My introduction to the C & O came in the 1970s through the British Council, which at the time was housed on one floor of the Iwanami Building in Jimbocho. I had been working for over two years at the International Language Centre, which occupied the floors above and below, before somebody told me about the British Council's annual no-fuss "light" lunch for the C & O, consisting of an assortment of cheese and biscuits, and the mainstay, a delicious liver paté made in pottery bento containers by two or three Council wives from a recipe handed down for years by the wives of successive Representatives. I joined the Society on one of these occasions, on January 28, 1976. At another, two years later, I heard of a Japanese foundation looking for a native rewriter; after a succession of interviews I landed the job at the Foreign Press Center/Japan which is still my main employment and which completely changed the course of my life. The paté lunches were a great success until the wife of a new Rep. declared "We can do better than paté and cheese!" -- and indeed they did; a talented organizer and a forceful personality, she dragooned all the wives into assembling a vast hot meal of gourmet dishes. This so exhausted the ladies that they never hosted us again.

I have always felt comfortable in the company of people one or two generations older than myself. Perhaps it's because I'm five years older than my nearest cousins, so as a child I was accustomed to being in the company of my elders. Most of my early memories of the C & O are of long pleasant chats with dear old gentlemen -- and one or two ladies -- who went to Oxford or Cambridge round about the time I was born. Some are no longer with us; others are still alive and reaching for the record books in one capacity or another. Of these, without doubt the most important to me was Masayoshi Kakitsubo (Trinity Hall, Cambridge, 1932-35). We shared an office at the Foreign Press Center for nearly nineteen years and never had a cross word; this was not the least of his achievements. He was a retired diplomat. One of his early assignments was to supervise the evacuation of the British Embassy at the outbreak of World War II, ferrying the diplomats to the Port of Yokohama in a fleet of taxis. He was also sent to take over the Australian Embassy but was kept waiting outside for a long time; when he finally got inside the boiler was almost red-hot -- they had been burning all their documents! During the War he was assigned to Subhas Chandra Bose as his English-Japanese interpreter. For this reason he was often interviewed in later life by foreign journalists, especially Indians. In the 1950s he had been Japanese Ambassador to the United Nations and for decades thereafter continued to be sent on missions to Geneva and elsewhere for disarmament conferences. Outside these activities he was one of the most undiplomatic people I have known, and his frankness was very refreshing. It was accepted that he would stay in harness at the FPC; from time to time people at the Gaimusho had tried to "tap him on the shoulder", but he was so far senior to all of them that they gave up discomfited. His mind remained sharp as a tack right to the end, though his body was beginning to wear out. He often said it was good to die quickly; and that is what he did, on January 3rd, 1997, six months short of his 90th birthday.

Posted in | Submitted by Doreen Simmons on Mon, 2005-02-28 15:00.
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Buffet Supper at The Agnes Hotel, Kagurazaka

Tuesday, 19th March, 2002 (18:30 - 21:00)

The rather peculiarly named Agnes Hotel (the owner's name spelt backwards, apparently) came with strong recommendations from the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan, so we booked it without hesitation for our March dinner. It's a small, elegant, modern place, and the high-ceilinged "Agnes Hall" fitted our needs perfectly. One felt that the manager and his staff had gone out of their way to provide us with good homely fare of a high standard at an extremely reasonable price (\5,500 including drinks - the menu is attached below). Unfortunately, someone seemed to have absconded with the Fish and Chips before we arrived, but its absence was more than compensated for by the wonderful roast pork and roast beef. Several members eyed the latter suspiciously at first, but most tucked in after assurances had been issued that it was Australian. During the course of the evening, two new members were introduced: Mr Paul Etheridge (Pembroke, Oxford) and Ms Mika Tsuchiya (Trinity Hall, Cambridge). Five of us finished off with a few post-prandials in the hotel's bar. This was possibly slightly too cozy for the presence of a pianist, whom David Turner had to be restrained from throttling. Nevertheless, we will undoubtedly make return trips to The Agnes. (TDM)

MENU

Assorted Italian salami and cold meats
Salad of shell pasta mixed with garden vegetables
Assorted sausages
Welsh rarebit
Shepherd's pie
Fish & Chips
Spaghetti Bolognese
Gnocchi gratin
Chicken pie
Roast pork with apple sauce
Roast beef
Fried rice with bacon and mixed vegetables
Fruit punch
Coffee


Buffet Lunch at La Bisboccia

Friday, 22nd February, 2002 (12:15 - 14:00)

Hiroo's La Bisboccia must be one of the finest Italian restaurants in Tokyo, and it has long been a regular venue for C&O lunches. Apart from the excellent cuisine, a definite attraction from our point of view is that it isn't open to the public for lunch, which means that our boisterous presence doesn't bother anyone else. The meeting on 22nd February was actually rather less boisterous than usual as numbers were low: only thirteen members and two guests. There were no new members to be introduced, but no no-shows, either. Nevertheless, a good time was had by all, and we are grateful to La Bisboccia for providing the usual five-star Italian feast. (TDM)


Evening Buffet at Ginza Tobu Hotel

October 26, 2001

C&O Poolside Party hosted by New Chairman

Dr. and Mrs. Barraclough's house
Minooka-dori 4-5-3 Nada-ku KOBE
(10-15 Minutes walk form Hankyu Oji-Koen Station, last house on the left)

See map


THE C&O SOCIETY IN THE SIXTIES

Tomoyuki Imai, St Antony's, Oxford, 1960 - 61

Being asked to write about the Society's activities in the old days was rather embarrassing to me as I would have to reveal my real age. I have been disguising myself as someone ten years younger, although the deception was probably obvious on golf courses. Nevertheless I decided to accept the request, thinking, "Who cares about my age?!" In any case, I have recently had to buy that wicked old man's driver and spoon called an S-Yard to maintain the distance of my woods shots.

I believe it was in early 1963 that I joined The Cambridge & Oxford Society. My ultimate & very senior boss, the President of Shell Sekiyu K.K., took me to a regular Society luncheon at the Diamond Hotel in Ichibancho, the usual venue. My memory tells me that there were about fifty members in attendance and that they were mostly British. After half an hour or so spent drinking aperitifs we sat on both sides of a long table shaped like a katakana 'ko', with the President sitting in the centre so that he could be seen by most of those present.

My boss had warned me in advance that all the new members of the Society would be asked to make a short speech. I had obediently and diligently prepared a sheaf of notes for my speech which, I remember, included some humour, and was confidently waiting to be called upon. However, a moment before the President started making his introductions, my boss whispered in my ear that because time was limited my speech must be very short and that I should simply introduce myself. I was the first to speak and became extremely nervous. As a result I simply stated my first and second names, which college I had attended and when, what job I was engaged in, and a little about my sporting and other interests. To my consternation, this caused roars of laughter, which were immediately followed by the President's cynical observation: "The speech was very concise and efficient and I sometimes feel that all the introductory speeches should be as efficient as this". This provoked yet more laughter. The English gentleman who came after me spoke ten times longer than I did, yet quite humorously and entertainingly. This made me feel even more embarrassed.

Posted in | Submitted by tomoyuki.imai on Tue, 2001-05-29 15:00.
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The Cambridge & Oxford Society of Tokyo celebrates its Centenary.

OXFORD AND CAMBRIDGE CLUB - CLUB NEWS No. 108
AUGUST 2005

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.

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

Hidehiro Takaki, Gonville & Caius, Cambridge 1927-30

After graduating from Cambridge in 1930, and a further one and a half years working in London in Prof. Pite's architecture office, I returned to Japan in 1932. So my memories of the old days of the Cambridge & Oxford Society go back a long way into the past!

I very well remember the first time I attended a C&O meeting. In those days, the President of the Imperial Hotel, Baron Kishichiro Okura, was a graduate of Trinity, Cambridge, having been up from 1904 to 1906. He looked after C&O members extremely well, and my first meeting was in his hotel.

It was a more formal event than we are used to nowadays. All of us were dressed up in dinner jackets, and after some conversation in one of the hotel's reception rooms, we were brought into one of the dining rooms, where, under the sparkle of chandeliers, the British Ambassador proposed a toast in Champagne - of excellent quality, I must add!

Baron Okura used to host such occasions twice a year, in spring and autumn, with a total of 20 to 30 British and Japanese members attending. He greatly contributed to the C&O Society by his support.

In addition, the British Ambassador hosted a year-end dinner, which was attended by Baron Okura and other members, in full formal attire.

As well as these formal occasions, members used to get together about once every three months at restaurants in Shimbashi and Marunouchi. But for some reason, these seem to have been attended only by the Japanese, if my memory is correct.

With all these C&O meetings, I had no time to join the Japan-British Society, to my later regret.

Few members of today's C&O have probably heard of the 'Shijukyu-kai'. This was in fact not formally connected to the C&O, but it was made up of Japanese Cambridge graduates, including myself. In 1927, seven Japanese were admitted to Cambridge - an unusually high number for those days. The seven of us formed the 'Shijukyu-kai' after our return to Japan. The '49' in the Japanese name was arrived at by taking the number 7 in 1927, and multiplying it by the 7 of us.

Posted in | Submitted by hidehiro.takaki on Wed, 1995-04-12 15:00.
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WHY THE "CAMBRIDGE & OXFORD SOCIETY"?

Giro Koike, Magdalene College, Cambridge 1931-34

This year, we will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the Cambridge & Oxford Society, Japan. This is indeed a happy event.

But when I thought of how the members who knew the Society in earlier days are gradually disappearing, I felt I should take up my pen and leave some short account of what I know about the Society's history.

I myself was born in Tokyo in 1908, and went to England after having graduated from middle and high schools under the old educational system. I studied at Magdalene, Cambridge from l931-1934. The foundation of the Society in 1905 was thus three years before my birth, and a long time before my own Cambridge experience. So all I know is what I have heard from older members, primarily from my father-in-law, Shigezo Imamura, who graduated from a Japanese middle school in 1896, went to England in the same year, entered Trinity, Cambridge, and graduated in 1902.

As is well known to everybody, 'Oxford and Cambridge' is the normal way in England of referring to the two universities, and not vice versa.

I do not know for certain why people refer to them in that way, but the fact is that the oldest college in Oxford is older than the oldest college in Cambridge. This is often said to be the reason, but perhaps people simply became accustomed to talking about them in that order, without there being any supporting logic.

In Japan, we always say 'So-kei' whenever we refer to Waseda and Keio, the two prestigious Japanese non-state universities, together, but again there seems to be no profound reason for it; simply people have got into the habit of referring to them in that way over a period of many years.

So why is our own Society called the 'Cambridge & Oxford Society', in that unexpected order?

When I myself returned home after studying at Cambridge, I had the feeling that the name sounded a bit out of place, even unnatural! So at the first meeting I was invited to, I asked some senior members about it. Shigezo Imamura (who subsequently became my father-in-law, though at the time I never dreamt of that happening!) gave me the following explanation.

Posted in | Submitted by giro.koike on Tue, 1995-04-04 15:00.
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