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The Cambridge & Oxford Society of Tokyo celebrates its Centenary.


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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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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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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