JIM ROY 1941-2023

Dear Members and Friends

It is with the greatest sadness that I have to inform Japan Society members that James (Jim) Roy passed away 22nd October. He was one of the founders of our society and was a key member of the group of academics and businessmen who came together in 1985, to propose and support the establishment of a society to celebrate friendship between Scotland and Japan.  The result was the establishment of the Japan-Scotland Friendship Society in 1986 which was then renamed The Japan Society of Scotland in 1990.

Jim was the Society’s first treasurer and continued to support the society in so many ways for nearly 40 years. His last major contribution was his excellent essay on the History of the Society published in our annual newsletter December 2020. His outstanding contribution to the establishment and development of JSOS and Scottish-Japan relations was recognized by our highest award, that of Honorary Life Member.

On a personal and professional basis, as many of the JSOS Council members (past and present) and membership will attest, Jim was a sheer delight to be with and to work with and always concerned about the success of JSOS. He was always available for advice on JSOS developments and his love for Japan and delight with the continued work of JSOS always shone through.  In all this he was always supported by his lovely wife Christine who shared his interest in JSOS and his love of Japan.

He will be sadly missed by all whose lives he touched and he will always be remembered. Our thoughts now are to his wife and family at this difficult time. We will discuss at a later date, how JSOS can most appropriately recognize and remember Jim.

An announcement has been published in “The Scotsman”:  Suddenly, at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh, on Sunday, October 22, 2023, after a long illness, Jim, beloved husband of Christine, loving father of Graeme and Gordon, and adored Grandpa of Thomas, Alasdair, Fiona, Jonathan and Charlie.  He will be hugely missed. Following a private cremation, a Celebration of Jim’s life will be held at Cramond Kirk, Edinburgh, on Thursday, November 9, at 11.30 am, to which all are welcome. Please wear bright colours.   Family flowers only, but donations, if desired, to Chest, Heart & Stroke Scotland.

Further details via this link:  https://jamesroy.muchloved.com/


Professor Ian Gow OBE ORS

A pdf copy of this letter is available below:

Scots and Japan: First Contact 1613-1623

UNIVERSITY OF EDINBURGH Asian Studies Seminar Series 2022/23

Date – 13 December 2023 at 16:00

Venue – Project Room 1.06, 50 George Square

Speaker – Professor Ian Gow (University of Edinburgh, The Japan Society of Scotland)

About the event

The last two decades of the Tokugawa era (1603-1867) ended over 2 centuries of self-imposed isolation from the West except for a small Dutch presence at Dejima Nagasaki. In the 1850s Scots such as Admiral Sir James Stirling (1854), Lord Elgin (1858) and Thomas Glover (1859) arrived in Japan and played key roles in Japan’s increased engagement with Western powers and rapid industrialisation.  However, almost nothing is known of Scots involved with Japan before the 1850s.

This talk reveals evidence of Scots working in Japan in the early 17th century and will also comment on the role played by King James VI and I. 

About the speaker

Professor Gow is a graduate from the University of Edinburgh in Politics and Modern History, and is also an Honorary Professor in East Asian Studies at the University. He is Chairman of the Japan Society of Scotland. He completed his PhD in Japanese studies at Sheffield University. He was Scotland’s first Professor of Japanese Studies (Stirling University) and then Chairman of the School of East Asian Studies (Sheffield University).

He has published extensively on Japanese defence and security (pre-war and post-war) and on Japanese business and management. Last year he was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun by the Emperor of Japan for his services to Japanese studies and Japan-Scotland relations.

About the seminar series

Each year, Asian Studies welcomes a fantastic range of guest speakers and colleagues to present a seminar on their research, spanning fields as diverse as film and media, literature, religion, society, politics and international relations.

Click here to see this event on the Edinburgh University Asian Studies website…

JET Alumni Reception 2023

At a recent reception hosted by The Japanese Consulate in Edinburgh, Consul-General Fujiwara welcomed JET Returnees from the past three years. It was a lively gathering with some of the returnees giving accounts of their experiences. They also had the opportunity to meet and chat with representatives of other Japan related organisations, including JSOS.

For more information about the JET programme, please visit https://jetprogramme.org/en/ For more information about JETAA, please visit https://www.jetaa.org.uk

JSOS Bonenkai 2023

Monday 4 December 2023 at 7pm at Bentoya

A small but friendly and good humoured group of members were joined by Consul General Fujiwara and Mrs Fujiwara at our annual JSOS Bonenkai tonight. A thoroughly enjoyable evening with delicious food in a cosy and relaxing Edinburgh restaurant – Bentoya. KANPAI!!


The University of Edinburgh Asian Studies Seminar Series

Date – 22 November 2023

Venue – Project Room 1.06, 50 George Square

Speaker – Dr Paul Kreitman (Columbia University)

Title – ‘Nature and Sovereignty Conservation in Japan’s Ocean Borderlands’

Click here to read more…

Microbes & Sustainability/Fermentation in 20th Century East Asia

Lecture by Victoria Lee at University of Glasgow on Tuesday 21 November 2023 at 3-4pm

The title of the talk is ‘Microbes & Sustainability/Fermentation in 20th Century East Asia’

Victoria is an Associate Professor in History at Ohio University in the US, and her book The Arts of the Microbial World Fermentation Science in Twentieth-Century Japan (Chicago 21) has recently won the International Convention of Asia Scholars Book Prize for the best book in the humanities (2023)

Details of registering for this talk can be found through the link below



Members and Friends are cordially invited to this one day symposium at Edinburgh College of Art and of course please feel free to share this invite with your networks.

09.30am – 5.00pm with a drinks event to be held 5.30pm-7.30pm

Friday 8 December 2023

West Court, Edinburgh College of Art, Lauriston Place, EH39DF

This one-day symposium will explore through the medium of cut crystal the shared culture and heritage that exists between Scotland and Japan.

This event is led by Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) in partnership with the Horiguchi-Kiriko glass studio based in Tokyo, Japan. A studio specialising in Edo-Kiriko a traditional type of Japanese cut crystal. The symposium will host a range of speakers, a live demonstration of glass cutting (with an object handling session) and an object showcase at ECA. This event revolves around the internationally famed Japanese glass master Toru Horiguchi. The symposium hopes to trigger debate and discourse around the lost art of crystal cutting in the UK. The event aims to introduce Edo-Kiriko, Japanese cut crystal to new audiences and act as a catalyst for a new material cultural exchange between Scotland and Japan. This project is driven by the historical glassmaking connections between these two countries, which will draw upon a joint history that dates to the 1870s-1880s, when three glassmakers from Scotland helped the Japanese modernise their glass industry.

With their advice, assistance and instruction in all kinds of modern Western-style glassmaking, Japan’s first truly industrial glass factory was established in Tokyo. Included in this pioneering project was the country’s first workshop for the direct transmission of Western-style cutting and engraving skills. The symposium will address the shared material culture and heritage that exists between these two glassmaking countries and the losses that the now diminished UK glass scene faces. New perspectives on the value of exchanging and sharing intangible cultural heritage will be explored through the transference of specialist glassmaking knowledge, skills and meaning. The speakers at this event will include master glass cutter Toru Horiguchi, glass historians Sally Hadden and Dr Jill Turnbull, social historian Professor Aaron William Moore, glass engraver Alison Kinnaird, glass designer and educator Dr Jessamy Kelly and Chris Blade the CEO of Cumbria Crystal.

(The event is Free but ticketed)

Click here to sign up on EventBrite…

CANCELLED: A talk by Elspeth Lamb RSA

Monday 30th October 2023 – 7pm

Venue: Zoom (online event only)

I plan to talk about ways in which travel has influenced my process and visual work, mainly with reference to Japan.

This would include the years since first going there in 2000 to study Mokuhanga (Japanese Woodblock Printing) with master carver/printers on Awaji Island, Kansai as part of a post earthquake regeneration residency programme headed by Keiko Kadota Director of the Nagasawa Art Park Programme when I was selected for an International Residency during 2000.

Two years later  I returned to the same location on Awaji Island. This was mainly to research oriental fibres for a book entitled “Papermaking for Printmakers” published in 2006 by A&C Black, London.

I have returned to Japan several times since to attend conferences and to broaden my understanding of Japanese Washi and papermaking techniques on to places such as the Awagami Washi Kaikan Papermill on Shikoku Island during 2005 and more recently in 2017 to study with master papermaker Hisako Uchimura at her papermill in the Saitama region near Tokyo.

Click here to sign-up on Eventbrite…

Eventbrite capacity is limited to 25, so if tickets are sold out, then please contact us via Facebook.

Howie Reeve: A musical tour of Japan – Held on 11th September 2023


At our recent event, members and guests were treated to a little-known aspect of Japan, that of underground music performances. Glasgow-based Howie Reeve has just returned from a 15-day tour of one-night stands, between Tokyo and Kyushu. Punk rock artist Howie, has been visiting Japan for the past few years engaging with like-minded musicians and performing in small venues: cafes, bars, libraries, etc., and forging links with the Japan underground music scene. These musicians often perform for groups supporting disadvantaged communities, not just in Japan but also in Europe and Howie revealed how they staged a concert in Kosovo. His enthusiastic account of his daily travels and encounters during his stay, including negotiating a typhoon and searing temperatures, was highlighted through photos and sound clips. Thank you, Howie, for a most informative evening.

Click here for the original event notice…

Howie Reeve: A musical tour of Japan

Monday 11th September 2023 – 6.30pm

Venue: University of Edinburgh, 50 George Square, Room G.01

Having just returned from a tour of Japan, Howie will give us a brief outline – a daily journal of a fifteen date Japanese music tour of small, independent spaces, which took place between 5th and 19th August 2023.

Click here to sign up for the in-person event.

Click here to sign up for the online Zoom event.