Saturday 27th February 2010 saw an extravaganza culture, food, whisky and of course dancing in commemoration of Scotland’s national poet, Robert Burns. We were delighted to welcome for the evening by his Excellency David Warren, British Ambassador to Japan and his wife Pamela.
The event was held in the sumptuous surroundings of the ANA Intercontinental Hotel in Tokyo. Executive Chef, Jean-marie Pougnet and his team laid on a spectacular Scottish-themed gourmet dinner including haggis. The feast was accompanied by fine wine and whiskies and authentic water all the way from Royal Deeside courtesy of David Croll of Whisk-e.
This year the address to the haggis was performed by Andrew McGarva who gave a theatrical rendition of Burns’ most famous poems. Andrew was ably supported by Charles Bentley as haggis bearer, Andrew Dunlop as whisky bearer and Atsushi Yamane, Pipe Major.
During dinner the audience were entertained to demonstrations of Highland dancing courtesy of the Tokyo Bluebells and the pipes and drums of the Tokyo Pipe Band.
Before the speeches the audience were taken through a tasting of three different types of Springbank whisky. Pete Currie, Brand Ambassador for the Springbank Distillery gave a spirited expose on the history and range of the whisky’s they offer.
Ambassador David Warren led into the speeches with a few witticisms about the rivalry between the Scots and the English before making comment about Burns and his legacy.
The Immortal Memory toast was proposed by long term Japan resident Tom Wilken who gave an eloquent account of the Man, his frailties and the fact that 251 years after his birth he is internationally known unlike to an extent greater than other wordsmiths from around the world.
Next up was Richard Dawson, treasurer of the Society and a masochist to boot as the following morning he was to run in the Tokyo marathon. His training regimen very much focused on the Scots methods of taking it easy and prodigious quantities of beer and whisky to provide the necessary carbs to sustain him on his journey. Richard gave an account of how Burns would have existed had he spent his formative years in Tokyo and its environs to amusing effect.
To balance the sexes we were entertained by Pauline Broadway, Society Secretary, as she gave invaluable tips to the menfolk and an explanation of the feminine lexicon of life to help us mere men understand our womenfolk better.
With the speeches duly delivered it was time for the dancing, known more colloquially as the “hoochin and the choochin”. Andrew McGarva and Willie Weir flew in especially for the occasion to lead us through several hours of easy and not quite so easy dance steps. The dance floor was rarely empty all the way through to Auld Lang Syne.
During the evening there was a raffle and a whisky auction for two special bottles of 18 year old Springbank whisky courtesy of Pete Currie. Together we raised Y420,000 for our nominated charities, Scottish community Foundation and the Nippon Special Olympics. Thanks to everyone who auctioned for or gave generously in the raffle.
Once again we are delighted to acknowledge the support from our many sponsors including Virgin Atlantic Airways, Dyson, ANA Intercontinental, Shangri-la Hotel, Peninsula Hotel, Conrad Hotel, Hilton Hotel amongst many others.