Saturday March 17, 2018

Japan – 25th Emerald Ball Tokyo 2018

The 25th Emerald Ball Tokyo 2018 Charity Ball & Dinner took place on Saturday 17th March, 2018. It was held at the Hotel Gajoen in the Meguro ward of downtown Tokyo.

The Gajoen, a hotel steeped in history was established in 1928 close to the very busy Meguro train station and provided a welcome stop to weary travelers coming from throughout Japan to visit the Metropole. It was an interesting choice of venue for this year’s Emerald Ball Tokyo, given its highly traditional interiors adorned with stunning woodwork, Japanese paintings and lacquer-work as well as fantastic artistry. This unique interior led those of that era to nickname it the ‘Palace of the Dragon God’. The challenge of the 2018 Emerald Ball Tokyo committee was to create an island of Ireland within this traditional Japanese setting to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.

Guests included her Imperial Highness Princess Takamado; the former Irish Ambassador to Japan Mrs. Anne Barrington; the Irish Minister for Housing, Planning & Local Government Mr. Eoghan Murphy T.D. and Father Doyle, an extraordinary Irish priest who has spread his love of Ireland through education and faith throughout Japan over several decades. Miss World Ireland 2016 Ms. Niamh Kennedy as well as Miss World Japan 2017 Ms. Haruka Yamashita added a touch of glamour to the evening.

The event attracted a record number of guests, a 20% increase in numbers over last year with 325 patrons in attendance. The event was not only a great night of Irish revelry but also fulfilled the important goal of raising money for the work of The Ireland Funds. The revenue generated increased by 10%  to 3.23m JPY from the previous year and was allocated to deserving causes in both Japan and Ireland in line with The Ireland Funds’ mission to promote and support peace, culture, education and community development across Ireland and among Irish communities throughout the world.

One beneficiary was Support our Kids – a project which concentrates on children who are still living under stressful circumstances in the aftermath of the great Kanto Earthquake of 2011. Children play a big role in the reconstruction of Tohoku and the main aim of this organization is to nurture these children into becoming future reconstruction leaders, through experiences overseas. Through this program, Japanese children have gained a wider global view and experienced new, different cultures. Support our Kids has been funding Japanese children for visits to Ireland annually since 2013. Given the very positive effect of this program, it will continue until 2020. Former Irish Ambassador to Japan Mrs. Anne Barrington, is acting Chairman of the project.

The Peter McVerry Trust was also chosen as a beneficiary for its incredible work done for homeless in Ireland. The most alarming factor of homeless in Ireland today is the staggering increase of those under the age of 18 whose numbers have gone from 600 in 2014 to more than 3,500 in 2018.

Also supported was the I Love Ireland Festival- an important two-day event held over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend where Irish culture, music, dancing and tradition were showcased, attracting more than 100,000 annually. It is the only annual cultural event which sees Tokyo’s main avenue in Omotsando closed for a St. Patrick’s Day parade. There was an Irish village set up in central Yoyogi park too where Japanese people enjoyed listening to Irish music, played Irish sports and enjoyed Irish food and drink.

Finally Irish dancing is such a key part of our heritage and one organization which ensures that this age old tradition continues to flourish is Comhaltas Ceoltori Eireann. The chapter in Japan runs Irish music, dancing and language courses in Tokyo and regularly hosts Feile throughout Japan.

The Emerald Ball Tokyo and The Ireland Funds were very proud to support these deserving causes.

The Japanese/Irish theme continued throughout the evening with an exhilarating bodhran/gaiko drum performance, dancing by the Ardagh School of Irish dancers perfectly dancing Irish jigs and reels, as well as ‘Chowder 99%’ a Japanese trio of harp, guitar and fiddle, who played trad music for the delighted guests. The DJ, Guy Perryman, a renowned artist from a local English speaking Japanese radio station Inter FM, provided a mix of Japanese and Irish music for dancing late into the night. However, the highlight of the evening’s entertainment was without question, a stunning performance by Mundy, the renowned Irish musician. He is internationally famed for writing and performing the score for the film Romeo & Juliet, starring Leonardo Di Caprio. Mundy has also performed with such stars as Sharon Shannon at festivals and concerts throughout Ireland.

A special thank you goes out to the hardworking committee which worked relentlessly for almost 9 months to put on this record breaking event with Patricia Delahunt-Loing as Chair, Chris Green representing the Irish Embassy, Richard Grehan of ImageMILL who provided all the design work, Paddy Hogan who headed up Sponsorship & Fundraising with the help of Mary Toal, Lauren Kerr who managed all the Financial & Accounting functions, Susan Lawlor who was the Japanese speaking Irish lady who provided a critical link with the Hotel, Fiachra Martin on Entertainment, Guy Strong on communication & social media and Nicola Waddington who defined all the culinary and beverage requirements for the event. Declan Collins with translation provided by Clare Greenan, compered the evening. Thanks to our sponsors: British Airways, Diageo, the Hotel Gajoen, Coca Cola, Pernod Ricard, PacaPaca Farms, Mercedes Benz and Life14 (photography) just to name a few. Without their invaluable support, this event would not have been possible.

Photography by LIFE14


Matthew Connolly

EIRE Systems K.K.

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