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IJA Annual Dinner 2022 | Photo Gallery

On 17th June the IJA members, friends, and supporters came together to celebrate and enjoy one of our biggest events of the year – the IJA Annual Dinner 2022. This year it took place at one of the most beautiful Dublin venues – Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel.

 

The evening began with Sake reception, kindly supported by our corporate member – Retro Vino Wine & Sake. Reception was followed by welcome words from Catherine Grennell-Whyte, Master of Ceremonies, and after that guests enjoyed a delicious 3-course meal in the beautiful Le Panto Suite.

 

Catherine Grennell-Whyte, Finnair/ATTS, Master of Ceremonies

 

Speeches were given by Raymond Hegarty, IJA Chairperson and Mr. Makoto Honda, Counsellor, DHM, Embassy of Japan.

 

 

Prize Giving this year was sponsored by the IJA Corporate members – Bank of Ireland, Cpl Resources, Dillon EustaceKWE Ireland, Retro Vino, Unique Japan Tours and Yamamori. The Grand Prize this year was sponsored by Finnair, IJA 2022 Travel Partner, and we would like to congratulate the lucky winner who received 2 return flights to Japan.

 

Grand prize winner received 2 tickets to Japan from Finnair/ATTS.

 

It was great to see everyone back together after so long. We are happy for you attending the event and look forward to seeing you again in coming events. – Tsugumi Yamamoto, IJA Vice Chairperson

 

We would like to thank all our members and friends who attended the IJA Annual Dinner this year, and special thanks go to our 2022 Travel Partner – Finnair, and all our Corporate members for their continued support and very generous prizes.

We would also like to thank Dublin School for Japanese Children who made beautiful origami decorations for our dinner guests, and to Mrs. Tomoko Ozaki who created Ikebana flower arrangements for the event. Huge thanks to the event team at the Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel for being great hosts and providing excellent service during our event.

We would like to thank Catherine Grennell- Whyte, Master of Ceremonies, and our event team and volunteers from the IJA Council – Raymond Hegarty, Tsugumi Yamamoto, Darina Slattery, Laura Goonan, Jonathan Kelly, Hiro Ino and Eddie Hughes – for their time, support and help to make this year’s event such a great success.

More photos from the IJA Annual Dinner 2022 are in the photo gallery below. Please click on the image to enlarge it.

 

Photos: Kevin O’Neill, Laura Goonan, Darina Slattery, Eddie Hughes, Raymond Hegarty and Jonathan Kelly 

Visit of Japan Ladies National Hockey Team to Dublin | June 2022

The Japan Women’s National Field Hockey Team, also known as the ‘Sakura Japan’ will be visiting Dublin on the 18th, 19th, 22nd and 23rd of June 2022 to play a series of challenge games against the Ireland Women’s National Field Hockey Team in the SoftCo Series as part of final preparations for July’s World Cup

Photo: https://en.hockey.or.jp/national/sakura-japan/

The game schedule which will be played in the National Hockey Stadium in UCD Belfield Campus is set out below:

  • Saturday 18th June at 16:00 
  • Sunday 19th June at 16:00 
  • Wednesday 22nd June at 17:00 
  • Thursday 23rd June at 19:00 

Senior women’s head coach Sean Dancer is thrilled to get top class opposition in Japan, currently 10th in the world and two places above Ireland. They bring a fast, attacking style which will make for a thrilling series.

“With all the hockey being played around the world, it has been difficult to host matches in Ireland in recent times so we are delighted to be able to play these at home,” Dancer said.

“It has been a difficult couple of years with Covid and the girls are excited to see home crowds and the legendary Irish support back out in force.” 

Tickets can be purchased at  https://hockey.ie/buy-tickets/

UCD Belfield Sports Facilities: https://www.ucd.ie/sportfacilities/t4media/UCD-Pitches-Map.pdf

For more information: https://hockey.ie/softco-senior-series-against-japan-uniphar-u23-5-nations/

Kwaidan: The exhibition and a prestigious cultural event connecting Japan and Ireland

Please see the following information about ‘Kwaidan’, the exhibition and a prestigious cultural event connecting Japan and Ireland managed by Blue Moon Projects and SO Fine Art Editions, Dublin. Project organisers are looking for supporters and are offering sponsorship opportunities.


About Kwaidan
Kwaidan aims to follow in Lafcadio Hearn’s footsteps by connecting east and west through common cultural values, and will be a shared celebration of the life and work of Lafcadio Hearn, the Irish literary figure revered in Japan as the cultural icon Koizumi Yakumo.
 

Kwaidan will include 20 leading artists from Japan and 20 artists from Ireland who will visually interpret a story of their choice from Kwaidan, Hearn’s 1904 seminal collection of ghost stories inspired by Shintō and Buddhist legends.

The exhibition will be staged in six venues in Japan and six in Ireland from September 2023 to the end of 2024. This will include being one of the main opening events for the exhibition space in the new Irish Embassy building (New Ireland House) in Tokyo and at the Lafcadio Hearn Museum in Matsue. In Ireland the prestigious venues will include the Museum of Literature Ireland (MoLI) in Dublin and the Yeats Museum in Sligo.

Kwaidan will offer unique access to connections, exposure and cultural affinity with an historic event that will have lasting resonance in both countries. Project has the support of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs Ireland, Irish Embassy in Tokyo, Japanese Embassy in Dublin, Business to Arts and UCD, and organisers will engage with Culture Ireland and The Arts Council of Ireland.

 

Please see brochure about the project and sponsorship options here!

About the Curators
  • SO Fine Art Editions is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary galleries specialising in printmaking. SO Director Catherine O’Riordan has worked with many of the Kwaidan participants previously. SO’s most recent international print project was a lonely impulse of delight in 2015 which toured to London, Beijing and Tokyo. www.sofinearteditions.com
Contact details
Stephen Lawlor
0868314040
slawlorart@gmail.com
www.stephenlawlor.com

Hiding in Plain Sight: Mieko Kawakami & Rónán Hession | ILF Dublin 2022

Ireland’s premier literary event – International Literature Festival Dublin (ILF Dublin) – is taking place from 19th – 29th May, bringing the world’s finest writers together to enthral, engage and excite audiences.

This year’s festival has an amazing line-up and is proud to celebrate the very best Irish and international fiction and non-fiction authors, poets, lyricists, playwrights and screenwriters. Festival strands include StoryMachine, a curated series for families and children; fringe programme Boundless; and Advance professional development events. You can explore the full festival programme here!

The world-famous International Dublin Literary Award is presented during ILF Dublin. Awarded for a novel written or translated into English, it promotes excellence in world literature. One of the richest literary prizes at €100,000, it is solely sponsored by Dublin City Council.

Among other amazing events, we would like to highlight event and discussion with two authors from different corners of the globe who share a literary eye for vulnerable, gentle characters in a hostile world.

Mieko Kawakami and Rónán Hession excel in portraying quiet individuals who are almost invisible at the centre of their own lives. Mieko’s latest work, All the Lovers in the Night, is as much about the problems of modern society in Japan as it is about the intense joys and terrors of womanhood the world over. Rónán’s long-awaited second novel, Panenka develops the warm yet uncompromising voice he is known for in the story of Joseph, a middle-aged man attempting to save his own life.

Date: Tuesday, 24 May
Time: 20:00
Venue: Merrion Square Park (Le Fanu)
Tickets: €10 / €8 – Book here!

Photo: ILF Dublin 2022

Originally from Osaka, Mieko Kawakami has just been shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, for her 2021 novel HeavenRónán Hession is a Dublin-based writer and musician. His debut novel, Leonard and Hungry Paul was selected as the One Dublin One Book title in 2021. 

The authors will discuss their novels with chair, Martin Colthorpe, Programmer at the International Literature Festival Dublin.

Kawakami never evangelizes, never wags a finger. . . This is the real magic of Heaven, which shows us how to think about morality as an ongoing, dramatic activity.’ Merve Emre, New Yorker


For more information, please visit ILF Dublin website: https://ilfdublin.com/

Festival map & venue:

Say Yes to Languages | Language Sampler Module 2022/23 | APPLY NOW

Last month, the Minister for Education, Norma Foley, announced an extension of the “Say Yes to Languages” primary languages sampler module for a further year and invited primary schools to apply to participate in the module.

The length of the module in 2022/23 will be increased from 6 to 8 weeks. The grant to schools participating will also be increased to €400 per class up to a maximum of €1,600.

The module is aimed at 3rd to 6th class and the school can select the language of choice depending on its demographic and school context.

The 2022/23 module could be used to support the integration of newly arrived Ukrainian pupils to our schools by acknowledging Ukrainian as one of the languages of the classroom or by choosing to teach Ukrainian for the duration of the module.

 

Photo: languagesconnect.ie

 

Languages selected in 21/22 included French, Spanish, ISL, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Arabic, Tamil and Portuguese.

The primary language sampler module can be delivered by either the class teacher in the school or by an individual identified by the school as a suitable tutor (for example, a language teacher/ foreign language assistant in a local post-primary school or a member of the community who is fluent in the chosen language, for example, a parent, who meets the scheme’s criteria).

Training for the teacher/ tutor will be provided by Post Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI) which will also provide all the necessary resources and supports to the schools delivering the module. Further information on the resources are available on the Post Primary Languages Ireland (PPLI) website.

Further details on the module are available in a circular.

How to apply: Schools can apply to participate in the module in 2022/23 here.

The closing date for receipt of completed application forms is 5pm on 11 May 2022.

Experience Japan 2022 | Join the celebrations of Hanami Festival!

Experience Japan festival will be returning to the wonderful Farmleigh House, Phoenix Park, Dublin on Sunday, 10th April to celebrate traditional Hanami or Cherry Blossom festival with lots of Japanese music and dance performances, martial arts, cosplay and kimono displays, delicious Japanese food, and demonstrations of Japanese culture and traditions.
All events are free and everybody is welcome!
The programme of Experience Japan festival has been published and it is packed with amazing events for everyone to enjoy! 
 
HOW TO GET THERE?

BUS

Dublin Bus Route 37 will drop you at Castleknock Gate (stop number 1669).

Enter Phoenix Park and take the narrow pedestrian path to your immediate right. Walk down this path until you reach the road, and turn right to see the gates of Farmleigh. This is about a 15 minute walk. On a rainy day, it may be muddy and a longer route along roads may be preferred.

CAR

Farmleigh is inside the Phoenix Park.  There are 300 free car spaces on site.

We encourage all festival goers to prioritise the parking needs of people with access or mobility issues, and take public transport wherever possible.

It will not be possible to park on White’s Road as Garda traffic restrictions will be in place. Please be wary of sat-nav! There is a 5-7 minute walk from Farmleigh car park to the House, Gallery and Gardens. Full driving directions are here.

BICYCLE

There are several Dublin Bike stations close to the shuttle bus stop on Parkgate Street.

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Follow Experience Japan for more updates and news!
 

Japanese Film Festival (JFF) returns to Irish cinemas this April

The Japanese Film Festival returns for its 14th outing this April, bringing the best of Japanese cinema to audiences across Ireland.
This year, Ireland’s only truly national film festival returns to its usual April slot. Screenings will take place in seven venues nationally, starting in Cork on Sunday April 3rd. April 7th will see the start of screenings in Dublin, Galway and Waterford. The festival continues in Tipperary on April 9th and concludes in Dundalk on April 23rd.
From festival favourites and hidden gems to the latest anime and blockbuster hits, every year JFF aims to bring the best of contemporary Japanese cinema to Irish audiences – and this year is no different.
This year’s line-up includes Tokyo Revengers, a live-action adaptation of the hit manga / anime series and one of the biggest Japanese box office successes of 2021. Time travel, romance, yakuza drama, action – Tokyo Revengers has it all.
Under The Open Sky, meanwhile, is among the most acclaimed Japanese dramas of recent years, boasting a career-best lead performance from veteran star Koji Yakusho (The Eel, Shall We Dance?, Cure, 13 Assassins).

Photo: Under the Open Sky (JFF 2022)

Other highlights at this year’s festival include Ito, a funny and poignant drama about a disaffected young woman who starts working in a maid café; Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle, a captivating take on one of the most unusual chapters of World War II and its aftermath; and Dawning on Us, a sharp social satire set in the immediate aftermath of lockdown. Foodies won’t want to miss the sumptuous The Pursuit of Perfection, a documentary that focuses on four of Japan’s most internationally celebrated chefs.

Photo: Ito (JFF 2022)

JFF 22 will also include the Irish premiere of the visionary stop-motion animation film Junk Head. Full of grotesque creatures, bizarre sights and unexpected comedy, Junk Head is an unforgettable trip into a subterranean sci-fi dystopia.

Photo: Junk Head (JFF 2022)

There’s something for everyone in this year’s anime selection. Looking for Magical Doremi is a lively and charming coming-of-age story and road trip across Japan. Sing a Bit of Harmony – the latest from Patema Inverted director Yasuhiro Yoshiura – is a joyous and energetic mix of high school drama, sci-fi and musical. Pompo the Cinephile brings a larger-than-life manga character to life while serving as a celebration of all things cinema. Last year’s JFF included the first Irish screenings of the Oscar-nominated Drive My Car.
JFF audiences in Cork, Galway and Waterford will this year have a chance to see director Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s other 2021 masterpiece – the extraordinary anthology film Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy – on the big screen.
TICKETING
Ticket sales information for screenings are available from each participating venue.
Ticketing links and listings are also available at www.jff.ie
JFF 2022 FULL FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Gate Cinema, Cork
Sunday April 3rd to Wednesday April 6th
April 3 @ 18:00: Under The Open Sky
April 4 @ 18:00: Tokyo Revengers
April 5 @ 18:00: Pompo the Cinephile
April 6 @ 18:00: Ito
Triskel Arts Centre, Cork
Thursday April 7th
April 7 @ 18:00: The Pursuit of Perfection
April 7 @ 20:15: Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy
Light House Cinema, Dublin
Thursday April 7th to Thursday April 14th
April 7 @ 20:15: Under the Open Sky
April 8 @ 18:30: The Pursuit of Perfection
April 8 @ 20:15: Tokyo Revengers
April 9 @ 13:15: Looking for Magical Doremi
April 9 @ 15:00: Sing a Bit of Harmony
April 9 @ 18:30: Pompo the Cinephile
April 9 @ 20:15: Junk Head
April 10 @ 19:00: Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle
April 11 @ 18:00: Ito
April 12 @ 18:00: Dawning on Us
April 13 @ 18:00: The Murders of Oiso
April 14 @ 18:00: The Asadas!
Pálás Cinema, Galway
Thursday April 7th to Monday April 11th
April 7 @ 20:30: Under the Open Sky
April 8 @ 18:45: The Pursuit of Perfection
April 8 @ 20:30: Ito
April 9 @ 14:45: Looking for Magical Doremi
April 9 @ 16:30: Sing a Bit of Harmony
April 9 @ 18:45: Pompo the Cinephile
April 9 @ 20:30: Tokyo Revengers
April 10 @ 14:00: Dawning on Us
April 10 @ 16:30: Onoda: 10,000 Nights in the Jungle
April 10 @ 20:00: Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy
April 10 @ 18:30: Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy
Garter Lane Theatre, Waterford
Thursday April 7th to Saturday April 9th
April 7 @ 19:30: Sing of a Bit of Harmony
April 8 @ 19:30: Wheel of Fortune & Fantasy
April 9 @ 19:30: Pompo the Cinephile
Tipperary Excel Centre, Tipperary
Saturday April 9th
April 9th @ TBC: Sing a Bit of Harmony
An Táin Arts Centre, Dundalk
Saturday April 23rd
April 23rd @ TBC: Looking for Magical Doremi
April 23rd @ TBC: Summer Ghost + Making Of
April 23rd @ TBC: Pompo the Cinephile
***
Japanese Film Festival 2022 is co-organised by The Embassy of Japan and access>CINEMA.

Experience Japan festival returns to Phoenix Park on 10th April

Long awaited and good news from our friends at Experience Japan – it has been confirmed that Experience Japan festival will be returning to the wonderful Farmleigh house and estate this spring.
The festival takes its name from ‘Hanami’: the traditional Japanese custom of viewing flowers, especially cherry blossoms, to mark the arrival of Spring. Each year Experience Japan brings families and friends together in the beautiful setting of Farmleigh in the Phoenix Park, to enjoy music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, seminars, and a variety of traditional arts and crafts, and to discover Japanese culture, including lots of delicious Japanese food. Many festival-goers dress for the occasion: in traditional styles, following Japanese fashion subcultures, or in cosplay.
Festival organisers will look forward to welcoming you at this year’s Hanami Festival on Sunday, 10th April.
Festival team also is looking for volunteers who could help at the festival. Volunteers are invited to complete the application form to register as a volunteer for the 2022 festival. Any questions can be emailed to volunteers.experiencejapan@gmail.com
For more information and letest updates, please check Experience Japan website:

JLTI Language Contest 2022 | Applications Open

IMPORTANT: Application deadline has been extended until Monday, 14th March 2022!
The Japanese Language Contest 2022 is open for entries.
This year’s theme is ‘Time for Fun’, contest will take place online, and you can send entries in the form of speech or Japanese language soundtrack videos which demonstrate a fun outlook.
The entries will be evaluated on a variety of criteria such as language level and expression, creativity and performance, and the prizes will reward a range of different styles, abilities and effort. The judging panel will take into account the language background and learning experience of the entrants which will be documented through their application forms.
Applications are accepted in 2 categories:
  • Secondary School Category A & B (A: TY& 5th year, B: 6th year) – individuals
    • Video clip of a self-introduction speech
    • One individual speaker should be clearly shown making their speech on screen.
    • No use of special props or items, other speaker or background noise or music etc is permitted.
    • Duration is 1 – 5 minutes
  • Open Category – individuals or groups
    • It can be individual or group production
    • Open format; (i.e.) speech, conversation, skit, drama, song, poetry, show & tell, presentation or animation
    • There must be a soundtrack in Japanese voiced by the entrant(s)
    • If entrants are not shown speaking on screen, then a separate short video must be provided with the application form which clearly shows the entrant(s) giving their names and speaking the lines. This video will not be evaluated for judging purposes.
    • Duration is 2 – 7 minutes

CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPATION

  • Participants must not be Japanese native speakers
  • Participants must be residents of Ireland.
  • Secondary School Category: This category is open to individual entrants of Secondary School age only.
  • Open Category: Participants cannot have lived in Japan for longer than 5 years in total. This category is open to entrants of all ages.
  • Neither participants themselves nor their immediate family members may be members of the JLTI.
  • Only one entry per category per person, regardless of whether individual or part of a group.
  • Participants should submit the application form including their YouTube video link and consent form(s) by the deadline.
  • A signed consent form must be provided for each member of any team entries for the Open Category.
  • For individual entries, the file names for the YouTube Videos and Consent Form should include the name of the entrant. The group name should be included in the file names for group entry videos and group member consent forms.
  • Applications will be accepted until March 7th.

APPLICATION DEADLINE IS MONDAY, 7 MARCH 2022.

Results will be announced by the end of March.

The winners will be added to our website and winning entries will be showcased on social media.

For information, application forms and guidelines, please visit JLTI website: https://jlti.org/jp/speech/
***

Contest is hosted by Japanese Language Teachers of Ireland (JLTI) and The Embassy of Japan in Ireland. Supported by the Japan Foundation. Sponsor: PPLI.

Intercontinental ‘travels’ with my Granny’s postcards by Hew Prendergast

The early life of my Granny interested me for two main reasons. The first of them may soon facilitate my going abroad in a way I never once thought necessary. The second has already taken me via online ‘travels’ to countries far and wide. Despite much fascinating research involving medical education, international exhibitions in late nineteenth century Europe and the design of Japanese postage stamps, I still however cannot quite explain all the intercontinental links, let alone the manner in which I first came across them. In reading through this tale that starts with my Granny and stretches even to Brexit, perhaps a reader or two can throw some new light on these links, or discover lost nuances in translations from the Japanese that appear later.

My Granny was born in Dublin to the St Legers, a family of Norman and Anglo-Irish descent based for long in Co. Cork. If the name is somehow familiar it is perhaps through the eponymous horse race at Doncaster, the oldest Classic of the English flat-racing season; or, less likely, through the portrait of one John Hayes St Leger by Thomas Gainsborough that hangs at Buckingham Palace.
In the summer term of 1908 my Granny was 15, a pupil at the long-gone St Margaret’s Hall school on Mespil Road by Dublin’s Grand Canal. With an accomplishment unknown, much later, to her own grandchildren, she won as a prize for Theory of Music (so states a label inside the front cover) an undated gilt-edged edition of Elizabeth’s Barrett Browning’s Poetical Works. Its ‘prefatory memoir’ records the death of Elizabeth in 1861 when living in Florence with her poet husband Robert, and it reproduces words – in the tablet in the church where she is buried – the memory of “her golden verse linking Italy to England.”

My Granny has also long since died, spending most of her life in rural Co. Wexford, some of it in India, none in Italy and, as far as I know, showing no lasting interest in poetry. When I recently opened her prize book for the very first time I was in the process of sieving through passed-down belongings to decide what to keep and what not to, spurred on by the possibility of unearthing some forgotten gem or past family episode. But when, overleaf from the title page, three postcards came tumbling out, my surprise was as great as discovering my Granny’s putative poetic past. And so my ‘travels’ began.

The first card was easy enough to decipher. Alongside a stamp depicting George Washington were the boldly printed words ‘United States of America’, a rather faint St Louis postmark and an even fainter date of Jan. 7 1895. As if to confirm that my then just two year old Granny was not the recipient, the addressee was a Dr T.J. Chidley of 205 Great Brunswick (now republican Pearse) Street in Dublin whose western end runs past Trinity College. Dr Chidley, I knew, was no relation. However, the Boxwell family into which my Granny married in 1913 had in turn married into the Stokes family – and both of these produced lines of eminent medical doctors educated and working in Dublin. One Boxwell, Indian-born William, was President of the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland between 1937 and 1940; in the Stokes family, both also Williams, one succeeded his father in 1845 to become became Regius Professor of Physic at the University of Dublin while his own son in turn served as President of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 1886–1887.

The card sent to Dr Chidley from St Louis, Missouri.

Born in Glasnevin in 1862, Chidley registered for medical studies at Trinity College in 1885. Though these took place in Dublin, his qualifications were awarded under the aegis of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons of Edinburgh and the Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow. The detailed entry in his Schedule for the Course of Study held in Edinburgh provided, I hoped, some sort of direct, explanatory link with my Granny’s medical relations. There, on the very last page and for his last year (1894), his teacher for the practice of surgery and operations is given as William Stokes, her uncle. One may easily imagine the physical act of Chidley handing over the postcard to Stokes, and thus into the wider family, but why would he do so?

The answer may lie in the advertisement on the other side of the card describing the virtues of antikamnia (meaning “opposed to pain”) and codeine tablets, a “combination particularly useful in La Grippe, Influenza and all Grippal conditions, Pneumonia, Bronchitis, Deep Seated Coughs, Neuroses of the Larynx, Etc, Etc.” The British and Colonial Agent for the tablets was given as a John Morgan Richards of Holborn Viaduct in London. Unusual for searches online, almost all mine for antikamnia homed in on just a single subject, the Antikamnia Chemical Company founded in 1890 in St Louis. In the long run its products actually proved fatal but that did not stop it making huge profits through – as the Wikipedia entry puts it – “clever advertising and marketing of the product targeting physicians, using physician testimonials and finding loopholes in the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906.” This approach rings bells, seeming remarkably similar to that taken by Purdue Pharma in the USA, recently forced into bankruptcy over the opioid painkiller OxyContin, implicated in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. One could scarcely blame the newly graduated Chidley if he had indeed approached his most recent teacher for advice on such a dubious remedy in his own time.

None of this, however, makes any sense of the other two postcards whose hand-writing looked to me either Chinese or Japanese. What pointed to the latter was a minute Roman-scripted ‘Japanese Post’ on the printed stamp of one of the cards. How would I get any further on how they reached my Granny? A friend in Australia put me in touch with a professor of Japanese but, as she turned out to be too busy, I tried online with a site offering and looking for jobs. For the brief of translating the two postcards, offers and quotes poured in from countries across the globe but it was the solitary one from Japan itself that caught my eye. Kent, it later transpired, despite his fluency in English, had no idea until I told him that he shared a name with an English county but it was the sort of exchange that allowed a good relationship to build up between us. In the end he became an ally in trying to help me source the two cards.

But first he had to translate them. This was not easy. It was not due, he said, to the hand-written script which was clear enough but to its profound differences from the modern Japanese writing system. Kent struggled (“most of us don’t understand this at all”) and sought advice but eventually came back with the translations. What they revealed in the end brought me no nearer to any firm answer about their acquisition by my Granny but rather drew me into reading about aspects of Japanese culture and that country’s nineteenth century interactions with the West. The little I already knew stemmed from having curated, some years before, a collection of lacquerware that had been commissioned by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in London. It had been made by John Quin, a member of the British Legation in Japan who, like so many of his peers at the time, was Irish. He had arrived in 1869 as a new recruit with the rank of 3rd Class Assistant and by 1888 had risen to become Consul in Nagasaki. Ill-health brought him back to Dublin where he died in 1897 and was buried in South Dublin’s Dean’s Grange Cemetery. The interest in lacquerware and the source tree of its resin exemplifies the European fascination with all things Japanese (japonisme) at the time – an interest that was reciprocated in full but how does it fit into the tale of these postcards?

The Japanese Post card, its design and 1 Sen denomination dating it (so I am told) to between 1885 and 1899, was written by a Mr Chobei Okamoto in Bessho Village, Otsu (a port on Lake Biwa) to Mr Shuzo Kumimara, a kimono dealer in Bungo Bashi-cho, Fushimi ward in the former imperial capital of Kyoto about 20 kilometres away. “Dear Sir,” it begins, “Please pardon my intrusion. As per my requests sent recently via Tsuji Yasaburō and the lady of the Hishikawa household, I am very keen for you to sell to me your Omoto [Japanese sacred lily] net cupboard. The fact is that I will soon be establishing a branch of Suruga-ya in Ōtsu, and intend to sell Yōkan [sweet bean cakes] there. That is why I want your net cupboard, for Suruga-ya. That is the situation, so I apologize for being so forward, but I hope you can comply with my request. As for the price, I will ensure there is some profit above whatever price you paid for it, so please sell it to me. Thank you in anticipation.

P.S. Sorry for the trouble, but I would appreciate it if you can let me know as soon as you have received this postcard.”

The postcard from Mr Chobei Okamoto to Mr Shuzo Kumimara

No trace has emerged of the kimono dealer but Mr Okamoto’s yokan-making enterprise not only has a well-documented heritage back to 1461 – and is widely listed as one of the world’s oldest commercial enterprises – but is still run by its founding family. Suruga-ya’s survival of a temporary closure in 2014 was even referred to in a Wall Street Journal report on the impact of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s economic policies. It now operates in Wakayama, about 100 kilometres south west of Kyoto, under the presidency of Mr Ryota Okamoto, the 23rd member of the family to do so. The company’s own website states that his ancestor Chobei went to the 1878 Exposition Universelle (World Fair) in Paris but I could get no further with discovering if he had also gone to later exhibitions. Perhaps I would have more luck with the second card which, as it turned out, points to such exhibitions as possible routes for these cards to have reached Europe.

This one was sent on 1 January of the 33rd year after the Meiji restoration of imperial rule, thus 1900. It is addressed to Mr Matsumoto Sahei in the coastal town of Komatsu Ryūsuke, about 170 kilometres north east of Kyoto, and is in the form of a New Year greeting. “I sincerely desire it to be an auspicious one for you,“ it begins. “I humbly hope that you all enjoyed a happy and healthy turn of the year. I am deeply grateful for the kind custom you favoured us with during the past year. I beg that we might be fortunate enough to receive the benefit of similar patronage in the year to come. Please excuse me for sending nothing but a brief expression of our best wishes to you at the time of this New Year’s festival. Fujita Yasuke, Nishi-iri, Gokomachi, Sanjō Street, Kyōto.”

One source in Japan told me that Mr Yasuke was an antique dealer and implied he had some business connections in Paris and Dublin. Otherwise I found nothing about him but his hope for “the benefit of similar patronage” suggests some previous exchange with Mr Sahei. He, by contrast, is far from invisible online. He was, and remains, a potter of renown whose works in the Kutani style of porcelain were being exhibited abroad – in Philadelphia in 1876, Chicago in 1893, Paris in 1878 and 1889 – and again in Paris at the Exposition Universelle in 1900, the year the post card was sent to him. Kutani porcelain traditionally came from Kaga, a town 20 kilometres down the coast from Komatsu. In the spirit of clearing – but not throwing – away one more possession I sent the card to where Kent had suggested, the Komatsu Hikiyama Exchange Centre, which in turn passed it to the City Museum. With Google’s help, I got a translation of their reply: “The cherry blossoms are in full bloom. Thank you for this time. When I delivered it to the museum, I was informed that it was registered as a historical document.” The card has thus returned to near where it was written 120+years ago, metamorphosing from a standard New Year greeting into a formal museum accession.

The postcard from Mr Fujita Yasuke to Mr Matsumoto Sahei

Did Mr Sahei go to those international exhibitions where his Kutani ware was on show? That I have been unable to confirm but he certainly went to a later one – the 1910 Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Bruxelles which ran from April to November. The evidence for this came in an extract sent to me from a Komatsu city magazine which, bizarrely, illustrated a post card that he himself wrote homewards that September.

Quite apart from exhibitors and exhibitions, there were also traders and a flourishing trade in Japanese art with Europe. The first individual to do so was a Mr Hayashi Tadamasa who, after attending the 1878 Paris Exposition Universelle as an interpreter – where, of course Mr Sahei also had his works on show – decided to stay on and start a dealership, importing and selling paintings, crafts and prints. These were not only highly appreciated by Western admirers but proved a driving force in the rise of japonisme. Some such admirers were actually based in Japan and prominent among them were doctors. William Anderson, a Londoner, moved to Japan in 1873 to become professor of anatomy and surgery at the Imperial Naval Medical College. On returning, he sold his huge collection of Japanese and Chinese paintings to the British Museum and later donated as many Japanese illustrated wood-block printed books to what is now the British Library. His contemporary Ernest Hart, an ophthalmic surgeon, also became an influential collector and connoisseur of Japanese art and was a founder member in 1891 of the Japan Society in London of which Anderson was the first chairman. As far as I can tell, and unfortunately for my ‘travels’, neither any Boxwell nor Stokes, nor indeed any Irish doctor of the time, had such interests in the Far East. Furthermore, unlike London, Dublin did not host Japanese medical students in the late nineteenth century.

So, I am left with speculation. Did Mr Kumimara, the kimono dealer, about whom I discovered nothing, go to Europe, taking with him his card from Mr Okamoto – who did go? On his own return to Japan did Mr Sahei somehow leave behind the New Year greeting he had received from Mr Yasuke? Or had the cards come with Mr Yasuke on some unspecified journey? Had any of them crossed paths with Dr Chidley, perhaps at some remove? Among the jostles of international exhibitions and exchanges at learned societies attended by enthusiasts of japonisme in all its forms, by doctors among them, and by Irish among other nationalities, it is not unreasonable – one hypothesis – to imagine the chance or intentional passing of postcards, possibly already wedged between pages of an unopened book, from one person to another.

One exhibition I learned about only recently, having explored all the other avenues of information, took place in 1907. Not only was it in Dublin but on a site (now Herbert Park in the city’s Ballsbridge area) just a short walk away from my Granny’s school on Mespil Road and just a year before she won her prize. Among the thousand or so exhibitors were four from Japan. Thanks to South Dublin Libraries Local Studies and their link to Dublin City Archive, a further link took me to Villanova University in Philadelphia where I could read in full the catalogue of the 1907 Irish International Exhibition. Three of the exhibitors were Ando & Co. of Nagoya and Tokio, K. Morota of (just) Japan, and Kojoro Suzuki of both Tokio and 23 Sandford Avenue, Donnybrook – a convenient few hundred metres from the site of the exhibition. The last exhibitor was Tsutsui & Co. and among their list of goods on show were so-called Japanese Postal Cards.

Extract of the catalogue of the 1907 Irish International Exhibition

So, after all my casting around for clues as to how my Granny obtained the Japanese cards, might the answer lie in a visit she – young, inquisitive, perhaps acquisitive too as a card collector – might have made to the exhibition? This really does look like the simplest, maybe even the most likely, explanation although it begs the question of how Tsutsui & Co. themselves obtained the cards and whether the transfer was somewhere in Europe or in Japan. Back at home or school my Granny would then have slipped the cards into her prize book of poems and put them alongside the advertisement for a bogus American pharmaceutical that – further speculation! – had been passed to her by medical relatives.

As for its original recipient, Dr Chidley, he makes just fleeting appearances in online searches. The 1903 Medical Register (now for UK registered doctors but then covering Irish ones too) lists him as living in Sandwich, Kent, but by 1905 he is back in Dublin working at the Rotunda (maternity) Hospital. He is absent, however, from the 1907 Medical Register and his last appearance both online and, it seems, in this world is in Maitland Cemetery in Cape Town. A gravestone there records his death in March 1913 and his title as Railway Medical Officer for South African Railways in the small town of Touws River, some 160 kilometres to the north east. A coincidence is that my Granny’s brother-in-law, Jack Boxwell, was by then living (married to a Stokes cousin) in Pretoria where he eventually became professor of classics and the translator into English of the first novel written in Zulu. Despite their thousand kilometres work-place separation, could a Chidley-Boxwell postcard transfer have occurred at some point? It seems no more unlikely than any other of my speculations. My Granny and Jack now lie close to each other in a south Wexford graveyard whose slight eminence gives a distant view of the Saltee Islands.

My Granny’s little collection has certainly raised a few questions. Others, readers of this perhaps, may one day work out the circumstances of two apparently unconnected Japanese post cards ending up in Dublin. In the meanwhile the first reason for my interest in her early life is rekindled. Brexit, 130 years later, has weakened the bond between the Anglo and the Irish, and indeed distanced the former from the Normandy origins of the St Legers, and prompted my application for Irish citizenship. I owe this possibility to my Granny. While I wait for a decision under Covid-19 restrictions I could do worse than read the book that, fitting for these times, Ernest Hart wrote in 1880 – The truth about vaccination: an examination and refutation of the assertions of the anti-vaccinators – and then, afterwards, place it on the shelf beside Poetical Works where these ‘travels’ began.

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About the author

Article and research prepared by Dr. Hew Prendergast, a retired biologist whose working life was twice touched by Japan:  firstly at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where he curated the Economic Botany Collections which included the lacquer urushi collection made by John Quin (a book appeared on the subject in time with Japan 2001); and secondly when, as Director of Ashdown Forest in Sussex, he learned about the great Japanese interest in the Winnie-the-Pooh stories written by A.A. Milne which were set in and around the Forest.  In 2005 he was invited to give talks in Wakayama about balancing the demands of tourism and conservation.  Hew is happy to be contacted at hew.prendergast@btinternet.com.