The Japan Society

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Japan Society Chairman's Blog (38)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (38)

Longer life expectancies and changing social mores mean that neither in Britain or Japan are we very accustomed to the deaths of senior members of our royal and imperial families and to what national responses and practices should mark them.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (37)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (37)

One of the most surreal aspects of this long pandemic has been the sight on television of professional sports being played in vast stadiums with no spectators. At least for rugby fans this did not make the now almost-concluded Six Nations tournament any less exciting, but I did find myself occasionally wondering how it must feel for the players.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (36)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (36)

“You are old, Father William, the young man said, and your hair has become very white; And yet you incessantly stand on your head – Do you think, at your age, it is right?” Way back in 1865 Lewis Carroll captured admirably our societies’ blend of veneration and astonishment at the achievements of great old age in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (35)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (35)

It was one of those events for which I suspect all of us can remember what we were doing or where we were when we heard the news – or, for those in Japan, when you felt the tremors. I had a small reminder of it over Christmas when, while clearing out some old files, an envelope fell out containing potassium iodide pills.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (34)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (34)

The "Basic Policy" for the opening ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games is as clear as it is uplifting. “When people look back on the Tokyo 2020 Games in 50 or 100 years’ time”, the policy says, “the Games should be seen to have been a catalyst for change in culture, society and values leading to the realisation of a more sustainable, spiritually richer, happier society”.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (33)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (33)

It is mid-January and the temple bells have long since fallen silent, but it still feels appropriate to say Shinnen Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu to you all, for 2020 had so many downs alongside the ups that we all need congratulating for having arrived at the new year, although that too has started with some downs of its own.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (32)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (32)

It is mid-January and the temple bells have long since fallen silent, but it still feels appropriate to say Shinnen Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu to you all, for 2020 had so many downs alongside the ups that we all need congratulating for having arrived at the new year, although that too has started with some downs of its own.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (31)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (31)

For once, we can certainly say that we didn’t go to the Annual Dinner for the food. Nor did we go to the Christmas Party for the drink, even though the Japan Society members who attended were taught how to make a nifty looking cocktail involving sake and cold tea.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (30)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (30)

As the year moves to a close we are all in a poor position to make the usual plans for Bonenkai and Christmas parties, but one tradition endures: the choosing, usually by publishers eager for attention, of “words of the year”.

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (29)

Japan Society Chairman's Blog (29)

The British novelist Martin Amis once published a book of his essays entitled The War Against Cliche, arguing that all great novels are battles against clichés not just of writing but also of the mind and the heart.