Sep 192018
 

By Duncan Harley.

The four-star Maryculter House Hotel was today the venue for the Scottish Samurai Awards.  Scotland and Japan have long enjoyed both trade and cultural links – well for just around 150 years in truth.

Japan sent many students to the UK between the late Edo period (1603-1867) and the early Meiji period (1868-1912) in order to explore and import Western technology.

The various international trade exhibitions of the 19th and early 20th Century provided useful platforms for the sharing of both scientific and aesthetic ideas. 

Cities such as Glasgow and Aberdeen provided ripe-pickings for the aspiring technologists and alongside acquisition of new skill-sets the two nations exchanged cultural and artistic aesthetics which continue to create broad-ripples to this day.

Japan, of course, had participated in the second Glasgow International Exhibition in 1901.

The Japan Pavilion was located near the main exhibition hall at Kelvingrove and there is a likelihood that Rennie Mackintosh and many other influential Scottish designers of the day would have visited and been influenced by what they saw there.

Some 11.5 million visits were recorded during the eight-month span of the exhibition and surely Mackintosh would have been one of those tempted to return again and again to absorb the sights.

Contemporaries of Mackintosh certainly visited Japan at about this time and Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum hold a collection of so-called ‘Industrial Art’ collected by Glasgow born designer Christopher Dresser who visited Japan in 1876 or thereabouts.

Aberdeenshire, of course, has a splendid claim to the forging of the Scottish-Japanese relationship and one man in particular played a pivotal role. Variously known as the Scottish Samurai or The Scot who shaped Japan,

Thomas Blake Glover was probably born in Fraserburgh in 1838.  His father worked as a coastguard officer and the family lived at various locations along the Aberdeenshire coastline including Sandend, Collieston and at Bridge of Don.

On leaving school, Glover began work with the trading company Jardine, Matheson & Co and quickly progressed to the Shanghai office before taking up a post in Japan. 

His role in Shanghai has often been glossed over in order to present a popular image of Glover as an enlightened trader intent on hauling an impoverished Japan into the industrial age. In truth however, Jardine Matheson & Co were happy to trade in everything from silks and tea to guns and opium.

Glover excelled in his role as trader and alongside making vast amounts of profit for his employer he soon started taking a substantial cut for himself.

His move to Japan, in 1859 age 21, came at a time when various rival clans were warring for control of the country. For more than 200 years, foreign trade with Japan had been permitted to the Dutch and Chinese exclusively.

However, following an episode of gunboat diplomacy in 1853, the US Government had persuaded the Japanese to open trade up with the West. 

Glover arrived in good time to use his proven skills to exploit the situation.

Soon he was supplying both sides in the civil war with guns and munitions. Before long he was taking orders for the building of warships, to be built in Scotland, to arm a fledgling Japanese Navy. The market for weaponry however soon became saturated and he turned to mining to maintain his by now dwindling fortune.

Glover is often credited with importing the first steam engine into Japan.

Demand for coal had surged as steamships began to proliferate in Japanese waters. Glover, in partnership with a Japanese clan, invested in developing the Takashima coal mine on an island near Nagasaki in 1868. 

The mine was the first in the country to employ Western methods. Mitsubishi acquired the Takashima mine in 1881 in the organization’s first main diversification beyond shipping.

Glover is often credited with importing the first steam engine into Japan and being instrumental in the formation of the Mitsubishi conglomerate. Japan also lacked modern facilities for repairing ships. So, Glover imported the necessary equipment for a dry dock in Nagasaki in 1868.

He later sold his share to the government, which leased the dock to Mitsubishi as part of the shipyard in 1884. By 1905 Japan had, according to many accounts, become the 3rd largest naval power in the world.

There are many enduring myths surrounding the life and career of Thomas Blake Glover.

One involves the notion that his Japanese wife Tsuru was somehow the inspiration for Puccini’s opera “Madame Butterfly”.

There appears to be little substance to this idea. A booklet produced by Aberdeen City Council to publicise the areas links with Glover asserts that:

“the association of Glover Garden in Nagasaki and Madame Butterfly no doubt relates to the fact that American soldiers after the Second World War dubbed the house Madame Butterfly House.” 

Thomas Glover eventually became famous in Japan and was the first non-Japanese to be awarded the Order of the Rising Sun.

today’s event saw some 23 or so Samurai and Shogun awards made to a broad range of recipients

When he died in Tokyo in 1911 age 73, his ashes were interred in Nagasaki’s Sakamoto International Cemetery. Fraserburgh Heritage Centre host a permanent exhibition celebrating his North-east links and his former house in Nagasaki attracts two million visitors each year.

Founded and overseen by Aberdonian and OBE Ronnie Watt, the Order of the Scottish Samurai is an award inspired by Blake Glover and those admitted to the Order are encouraged to use the letters OSS after their name.

While Ronnie actively heads the Order, he is supported by patrons, members and recipients – many of whom, such as Lord Bruce and Joanna Lumley take an active interest in the progression of the historic relationship between the two nations.

Opened by Ms Masami Fujimoto, Deputy Consul General at Consulate-General of Japan in Edinburgh, today’s event saw some 23 or so Samurai and Shogun awards made to a broad range of recipients.

Two previous Lord Provosts, Margaret Smith and Margaret Farquhar received Shogun awards for services to Aberdeen while Duncan McPherson and Robert Boyd received Legendary Samurai Awards for services to the Japanese Martial Arts.

Terry Boyle and Tyrone Smith were awarded OSS Shogun and Becca Hobart – alongside delivering a splendid display of Highland Sword Dance – collected up a well-earned OSS Hatamoto for services to the Order of the Scottish Samurai.

Previous recipients of the various Scottish Samurai Awards have included Ian Wood, Alex Salmond, Charlie Abel, Len Ironside (for services to wrestling) and film producer Compton Ross. So it looks likely that Becca Hobart is in fairly good company.

Words and images © Duncan Harley – Inverurie September 16th 2018.

  • Duncan Harley is author of The A-Z of Curious Aberdeenshire plus the forthcoming title: The Little History of Aberdeenshire- due out in March 2019
Feb 202017
 

With thanks to John Morrison, Marketing & Communications Manager, Peacock Visual Arts.

Peacock Visual Arts are delighted to present Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) by Ilana Halperin.

Following the first showing of this work at Fujiya Gallery Hanayamomo in Kyushu, Japan, Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) will extend to include a new series of prints commissioned by Peacock.

This project marks the first time Halperin has exhibited in Japan and Aberdeen and continues a historical narrative between Kyushu and Aberdeen which began with the 19th Century ‘Scottish Samurai’ merchant Thomas Blake Glover.

For 20 years, Ilana Halperin dreamt about Beppu. In 1995, back in the urban geology of New York City, she found a book on the street about volcanoes.

A chapter on Beppu featured – with photographs of children cooking eggs on the streets, steam coming through every crack in the sidewalk, and a pool as red as blood. In New York, steam vents erupted at every corner, but these were industrial rather than natural.

She imagined a correlation between her home city and Beppu, a place with steaming vents and boiling springs, where daily life was lived and informed by a direct relationship with geothermal phenomena.

In 2014, Halperin went to Beppu for the first time on a research residency with BEPPU PROJECT. Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana) grew out of this time. Beppu is the second most geothermally active site on earth, after Yellowstone, USA. It is a primary location for the potential of geothermal power in Japan. Over the course of a year, new geothermal sculptures slowly formed in the Kannawa hot springs of Beppu.

In September 2016, Halperin returned to Beppu to take the new sculptures out of the water and install a solo exhibition at Fujiya Gallery Hanayamomo, a beautiful listed Meiji Era building. The exhibition coincided with the blossoming of the venue’s 200-year-old Mokusei tree, reflecting philosophical approaches within Halperin’s practice – thinking in time scales longer than the human lifespan.

The exhibition at Peacock Visual Arts will feature new Japanese sculptures, alongside a geothermal sculpture formed in Iceland and new works on paper commissioned by Peacock.

To employ experimental processes, field work, and traditional print-based methods, Halperin is developing a new series of work with Peacock’s Master Printmaker, Michael Waight, utilising Yame Washi paper – the oldest Japanese handmade paper in Kyushu which can last 1,000 years – in combination with hot spring minerals she collected in Beppu.

To pair with the ‘field pigments’ from Japan, Halperin visited Dr Allan Lilly, Principal Soil Scientist at The James Hutton Institute in Aberdeen in January 2017, who introduced her to the National Soils Archive founded in 1934.

A selection of Scottish soil was generously donated to the project, including soil sourced from Slighhouses Farm where James Hutton, the ‘Father of Modern Geology’, farmed and began to formulate radical ideas about the age of the earth and deep geologic time. The nature of materials within these new works reflects the unique processes which formed the geothermal sculptures in Beppu, continuing the narrative of exchange between places intrinsic to this project.

Halperin and Mabon are working with the Glasgow based design studio Graphical House on a limited edition Artist Book that will mark the completion of the project, acting as a printed matter response to this ambitious and culturally diverse project. For more details on the publication visit the project website geologic-intimacy-yu-no-hana.tumblr.com.

Artist’s website: www.geologicnotes.wordpress.com

Ilana Halperin // Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana)
A new geothermal art/science project curated by Naoko Mabon (Aberdeen, Scotland and Beppu, Kyushu, Japan).

Opening: Thursday 30th March, 6-8pm. All welcome!
Exhibition runs:
31st March – 29th April 2017
Location:
Peacock Visual Arts

Curator’s tour: 22nd April 2017, 3pm

Artist’s Talk: Saturday 1st April 2017, 3.00-4.30pm
Ilana Halperin will be in conversation with Professor Tim Ingold from the Anthropology Department of the University of Aberdeen and Peacock Visual Arts’ Director Nuno Sacramento about her exhibition. This is a free event but space is limited so please book by clicking the blue button on the link below and filling out the booking form:

Ilana Halperin // Geologic Intimacy (Yu no Hana)

Image: Courtesy of the artist, Patricia Fleming Projects and WAGON

Photography: Sachiyo Ando

Oct 032016
 
ronnie-watt-painting

Ronnie Watt (left) as depicted by celebrated Aberdeen painter, Eric Auld.

By Charlie Abel.

Aberdeen’s famous Karate man Ronnie Watt (9th Dan) will be flying off to Japan on Frday (Oct 7) at the invitation of the Japanese through a fellow martial artist. A Kendo instructor from Japan, Kazuo Yamazaki, who is well known in Aberdeen for setting up the Aberdeen Kendo Club a number of years ago, has invited Ronnie and his wife Gail to accompany him on a tour of Japan.

The highlight of the tour for Ronnie will be visiting the Karate Dojo’s where they have organised displays of three of the traditional Japanese karate styles.

They will also visit Nagasaki where they have been invited by Tomishisa Taue, the Mayor of Nagasaki and some of the most prominent Karate Masters in their area to attend a dinner in his honour.

Ronnie is no stranger to Japan having visited six times to date and training in the world famous Takushoku Dojo, where modern Shotokan Karate was brought to the world by the Japan Karate Association.

Ronnie’s connections with Japan go back a long way. When he started Karate 50 years ago, after being inspired by James Bond movies, very little was known about Karate in Scotland. Few people knew anything other than simple basics and even that was of a questionable standard. The only way to learn was to go to Japan or attend some courses the Japanese masters were running down at Crystal Palace in London. Ronnie did both.

After years of training with the visiting Japanese instructors and visiting the source of knowledge in Japan Ronnie became well known as an instructor and an international competitor. Leading the Scottish Karate team and Teaching over 20,000 people karate.

In his Karate career Ronnie has brought many Japanese Instructors to the UK, Germany and Norway. He became good friends with many legendary karate masters such as Nakayama, Kase, Shirai, Enoeda and Ochi. Many would stay at his home in Aberdeen. Ronnie brought a team over from Japan to compete in a friendship tournament and in 2001 organised the WKC World Karate Championships at the Aberdeen Exhibition and conference centre.

His work with the Japanese and the good work Ronnie has contributed to Karate, not only in the UK but in many countries he visits to teach Karate, has not gone unrecognised.

Ronnie is one of the few people to be honoured by the Japanese outside of Japan, with an Order of the Rising Sun – an award not to be taken lightly. He has also since been recognised by the Queen with an OBE and named ‘Sports personality of the year’ by Aberdeen City Council.

the Scottish Samurai Awards have grown into something really special

He also has honours from the government of Slovakia and from other Karate Clubs in Europe. Last year he was entered into the ‘European Hall of Fame for Martial Artists’.

In 2015, in tribute to ‘Scottish Samurai’, Thomas Blake Glover, Ronnie helped to organise the hosting of 22 Japanese students and school children who were doing a pilgrimage visit from Kagoshima to Aberdeen and London. After his arrival in Japan, Glover had sent 22 students to be educated in the ‘modern world’ and is credited with modernising Japan. Glover is also credited with reviving The Order of the Rising Sun.

During the student’s tour of Aberdeen and London, Aberdeen was very proud to be able to host every person with a family including Ronnie and some of his friends. Ronnie is looking forward to seeing some of Kagoshima on his visit. Ronnie was recently awarded his 9th Dan making him one of the highest graded Karateka in the world and one of the worlds most experienced.

As if all this wasn’t already enough to keep him busy, 22 years ago Ronnie Founded a small awards event to help recognise and encourage people in different aspects of life. Initially it was centred round sports but now the Scottish Samurai Awards have grown into something really special. Each year they have grown into a more prestigious date in the Aberdeen social event calendar.

Names like Alex Salmond, Sean Connery, Sir Ian Wood, Tommy Dreelan, Martin Gilbert, Dr Joseph Morrow (Lord Lyon of Scotland) and The Very Reverend Professor Ian Torrance, have added Kudos to the broad spectrum of recipients who are recognised for being ‘people of spirit’ – Scottish Samurai.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Apr 012016
 

Speyside farmers launch bid to produce beef to rival world famous Kobe beef from Japan. With thanks to Eoin Smith, Tricker PR.

Monday 28th March 2016, Aberdeen, Scotland, SOSWF urging cattle farmers to follow the lead of Japanese producers of Kobe beef, but instead of drinking beer, Speyside cattle will be fed draff from distilleries, drink whisky, and will have traditional Scottish music played to them. Pictured: Ann Miller, Spirit of Speyside Whiskey Festival. (Photo: Ross Johnston/Newsline Media)

One of the Aberdeen Angus herd cannot wait to get his daily dram from Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival director Ann Miller.

Farmers on Speyside are being urged to lead a fight back for the Scotch whisky industry after a Japanese malt was named best in the world – by feeding their cattle a daily dram.

A nip of our national drink – coupled with a diet of high quality feed from distillery by-products – could produce meat so succulent and tender that it will rival Japan’s famous Kobe beef.

And it is thought that playing cattle upbeat traditional Scots music, in much the same way that Kobe herds enjoy classical sounds, will further enhance the quality of the beef.

Now there are calls from organisers of the world renowned Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival for local farmers to help further trial the theory.

Thousands of visitors from all over the globe visit the annual Festival, and organisers are concerned about the level of attention being focused on Japanese whisky.

Ann Miller, a director of the Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival, says,

“We do not believe there is anywhere on earth that produces better malt whisky than Speyside – and millions of whisky drinkers agree.

“We were genuinely shocked and dismayed when Yamazaki was named the best whisky in the world, but we are firm believers in the old adage of don’t get mad, get even.

“And that is exactly what we intend to do. All the signs indicate that introducing Speyside malt into a cow’s diet and using animal feed created from distillery by-products gives the meat a lovely, whisky-tinged flavour.”

The incredible discovery was made by Speyside farmers Ali Rolfop and Joe King, who have a herd of Aberdeen Angus cattle.

They were mucking out a byre one evening on their farm, Ure Gullybale, near the distillery town of Keith and poured a bottle of single malt Scotch into a water trough.

Ali explains,

“I’m a big fan of two of Speyside’s most famous products – malt whisky and traditional music – and so I decided to share these with our cattle.

“The next day, we noticed their coats were shiny and their eyes were bright. We’ve since been sharing a bottle of malt with them and we even have some local fiddlers come down to perform. We tasted the beef from the herd for the first time a couple of weeks ago and it is sensational – there is definitely a hint of whisky in the meat.”

The Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival takes place from April 28 to May 2 and is one of the biggest events of its kind anywhere in the world. It comprises almost 500 different events, from distillery tours to whisky tastings, from ceilidhs to comedy nights, and from whisky themed dinners to outdoor events.

Ann adds,

“With all this focus on Japan, I suppose we are a little worried that the thousands of visitors who fly in from all corners of the globe to enjoy our Festival might be tempted to go there instead.

“But while Japan may have been able to produce some decent drams, it doesn’t have the history and heritage of Scotch whisky. We’ve been producing the best whisky in the world for generations – no beef about it – and while they have learned how to make whisky from us, we’re now learning from their farming techniques.”

Tickets for all events in the 2016 Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival programme are available to buy now at www.spiritofspeyside.com The Festival is also active on social media – facebook.com/WhiskyFestival and @spirit_speyside on Twitter and on Instagram.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.

 

Jan 072016
 
Aberdeen Asset Management/Glover Scholarship Winner Bar Soba, 104 Hanover Street, Edinburgh Aberdeen Asset Management has announced that Caroline Marshall (20) is the winner of its prestigious Glover Scholarship scheme whereby a Scottish student is granted the opportunity to maximise their career opportunities by studying in Japan. Neil Hanna Photography www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk 07702 246823

Photo: Caroline Marshall, winner of the 2015 Thomas Glover Scholarship.

With thanks to Esther Green, Senior Account Executive, Tricker PR.

A prestigious annual scholarship which offers a student from a Scottish university the opportunity to visit Japan to study the country’s language, business and culture has attracted a record level of interest. Applications to the 2016 Thomas Blake Glover Aberdeen Asset Scholarship have eclipsed all previous entry levels.

With 68 entries, it is double the number who applied last year and is the highest number of applications on record, according to the Japan Society of Scotland which runs the scholarship sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management.

The judging panel will have the tough task of drawing up a short list in the run up to Christmas, with interviews likely to take place in mid to late January.

A spokesman from the Japan Society of Scotland commented:

“At 68 the number of applicants this year has more than doubled compared with last and has risen steeply compared to previous years. The gender split is fairly even and there are applications from students attending a variety of Scottish universities.

“It seems there is growing awareness among the student fraternity about the tremendous opportunities this scholarship offers up to its winner.”

The Thomas Blake Glover Aberdeen Asset Scholarship is a charitable fund which enables young people with an interest in Japanese culture and a clear business focus the chance to apply.

It funds travel to Japan for intensive study of the Japanese language at the International Christian University (ICU) Summer Programme, with preference to candidate whose interest in Japan has a business focus.

The scholarship is named after the Scottish entrepreneur Thomas Blake Glover, born in Aberdeenshire in 1838. Glover settled in Nagasaki in 1859 and played a critically important role in opening Japan to the west. Known as the Scottish Samurai, he introduced the first railway locomotive, started the Kirin brewery and influenced the industrial development of Mitsubishi.

This year’s winner, Caroline Marshall, spent the summer in Tokyo and described the experience as a dream come true.

Caroline (21), a former pupil of Trinity High School and Stonelaw High School, both Rutherglen, Glasgow is studying law at the University of Edinburgh and wants to pursue a career in international commercial law.

Of her experiences Caroline said:

“I can’t imagine gaining this kind of experience anywhere else.

“The programme is designed to teach a year of university level Japanese in six weeks. While this sounds daunting, it’s been an exciting and unique opportunity. Attending classes were only part of the experience. ICU runs a cultural programme alongside the course, meaning that students are given the opportunity to experience many traditional Japanese activities or places with Japanese students to guide us. 

Through this scholarship, Aberdeen Asset Management and the Japan Society of Scotland have created a milestone in my life that I feel has already set me on a new and exciting path.”

The scholarship has grown in status and reputation over the years, evident by the rising tide of applications.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, said: “It is encouraging to see a marked increase in the number of applications for this scholarship which offers an exceptional opportunity to experience Japanese education, industries and lifestyle and an opportunity to forge new partnerships with the country, which has one of the world’s largest economies.

“With such a high number of entries, no doubt the judging panel will have a tough time in the weeks ahead choosing the winning candidate.”

More about the scholarship can be found at www.facebook.com/GloverScholarship, www.twitter.com/gloverscholar  and www.japansocietyofscotland.org.uk/

 

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Nov 102015
 

Ronnie Watt and Alain Verbeek By Charlie Abel.

Ronnie Watt’s National Karate Federation have returned from Berk, France where an international open competition was held on the 25th of October 2015.
The competition was hosted by French instructor Alain Verbeek (6th Dan).
Alain’s club trains in the doctrines of Alain’s late instructor, Taiji Kase (9th Dan). Kase is a widely respected Japanese Karate legend.

Our Aberdeen based NKF team did exceptionally well during the competition returning with 4 international medals against some stiff competition which included 1 Gold and 3 Silver – Nissara Kirk taking the Gold and 2 Bronze, and John McInnes taking a Silver.

There were 150 competitors in all so Ronnie and his squad can hold their heads high.

A special training course was held the day before the competition. Participants in the course enjoyed 6 hours of karate training the day before the competition from 4 different karate masters. Participants travelled from around Europe to reach Berck for this rare opportunity with competitors from Germany, Austria, Scotland, France and many from Brittany.

KarateFranceShihan Ronnie Watt (8th Dan) from Aberdeen focused on speed technique to score points in kumite. Sensei Alain Verbeek  (6th dan) demonstrated Kase-ha sparring tactics, using various knife hand attacks in response to an attacker. Sensei Christian Le Romancer (Brittany) demonstrated bunkai and emphasised the importance of Kime (power, focus).

Sensei Dieter Langer (3rd Dan) from Germany demonstrated the structures behind the kata and the importance of form over strength.

Also present was the wife and daughter of Taiji Kase. They will soon publish a much anticipated book detailing the life and legend that was Taiji Kase. Kase was also a frequent visitor to Aberdeen and a close friend of Ronnie Watt.

Alain Verbeek has studied Karate for over 45 years and in this time Ronnie and Alain have become great friends.

At the end of the festival and competition Alain was surprised to receive a Samurai SHOGUN award for his service to karate and promotion of friendship between Scotland and France. The award was given after the closing ceremony of the competition in front of many guests and VIP’s including Chieko Kase (wife) and Sachiko Kase (daughter), the Mayor of Berk and the ambassador of Japan in France, Yoichi Suzuki.

The Auld Alliance is still strong. The NKF would like to thank the French families that hosted the NKF squad and for showing them such great hospitality.

warshell

After the tournament Ronnie and his NKF squad were invited to the Berck town hall to be treated to a special civic reception hosted by the Mayor of Berck, a senior MP and other VIPs from the area.

Ronnie was presented with a medal by the Mayor of Berk for promoting friendship and culture between France and Scotland through Karate.

Ronnie was also presented with a very special gift, from the people of Inverness, France.

This was an unexploded world war one shell (pictured right), encased in a special hand made box.

It had been fired into the area where the Scottish soldiers had fought, many giving their lives to fight for the freedom of France in the Great War, 1915.

Ronnie said he was “deeply moved” by this special gift.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Sep 182015
 

If you think about karate or martial arts in Aberdeen, or even in Scotland or in the UK, one name that will spring to mind should be our very own Ronnie Watt (8th Dan, OBE, ORS) who this year celebrates training in Karate for 50 years. Ronnie has never been out of the headlines and this month is no different, as it has just been announced that Ronnie is to receive yet another significant award in recognition of his karate, this time from an international organisation. Charlie Abel reports.

Ronnie Watt 11 The President of the IBSSA (International Bodyguard and Security Services Association) has acknowledged Ronnie by entering him into the European Hall of Fame for Martial Arts.

The honorary award ceremony will take place in Rheine, Germany at their black tie Gala where Ronnie will attend as their special guest.

Ronnie is delighted to receive the award, which came as a great surprise, and is another very prestigious occasion for Ronnie and his family. It also brings Aberdeen to the forefront of International Karate, the city again recognised on the international stage as having a living legend in our midst.

Only last year he was awarded another honorary title from the Slovakian Government in recognition of his services to Karate in their country:

“for the promotion of understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and regions”

In recognition of his services to karate, Ronnie has previously been honoured by the Emperor of Japan with the Order of the Rising Sun and has been appointed an OBE from her majesty the Queen.

Ronnie has now been inducted in to the European Martial Arts Hall of Fame 2015.

After 50 years of training karate, competing and winning medals around the world, not to mention teaching tens of thousands of children and adults, many students reaching black belt and going on to win medals in various world championship karate events, Ronnie’s place in history is already clearly stamped, though there’s still plenty ink left!

Ronnie continues to train and still teaches to his private members in Aberdeen three times a week and is constantly receiving invitations to travel abroad to train at karate festivals and self defence courses.

Anyone in Aberdeen of any age (over 5) interested in becoming a member of Ronnie Watt’s Karate Academy should call 01224 734607 or visit www.karate-scotland.info. If you are interested in self defence, getting into better shape and keeping fit while learning an ancient Japanese discipline, this is an ideal opportunity to train with a real master of karate….here in Aberdeen! What are you waiting for? It just doesn’t get any better!

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Jul 032015
 

Scottish Samurai AwardsBy Charlie Abel.

Aberdeen City Council treated the 2015 Scottish Samurai awards to a special civic reception at the town house on the 20th of July 2015. The Lord Provost, George Adam, welcomed distinguished guests and opened the awards with a very well received welcome speech.

First to collect an award was Benedict Bruce, the youngest of this years recipients was awarded the Scottish Samurai – Order of merit and was also presented with his WKC Shodan certificate by Dr. Fritz Wendland, the President of the world karate confederation who travelled from Germany.

Mr Hajime Kitaoka, the Consul General of Japan in Edinburgh was awarded the Scottish Shogun Commander for his work in promoting friendship between Japan and Scotland. Mrs. Kitaoka was also given a special presentation for her part in helping his work.

Ian Kirk, a well-known business figure in the Aberdeen Oil Industry was awarded The Scottish Samurai award for forty years of training in a Japanese martial discipline (Karate). Bill Berry MBE, a very well respected Judo master (7th Dan Judo) presented Ian with the award. Bill Berry himself was also promoted to Shogun. As was a previous Samurai winner Mike Mitchell, star of the silver screen and five times world body building champion.

Two world-renowned sculptors, Hironori Katagiri and Kate Thomson were awarded the Scottish Samurai Award for their contribution to fine art.

The Lord Provost, George Adam collected an award on behalf of Aberdeen City Council for their part in helping with the hosting of the 2015 Samurai Awards and for Aberdeen, being the spiritual home of the Scottish Samurai.

Scottish Samurai Awards 2015 – Aberdeen Town House

The ceremony concluded with a thank you speech from the founder and president of the awards, Ronnie Watt OBE ORS (8th Dan) who celebrates 50 years of Karate in 2015 and also 20 years of running the Scottish Samurai awards.

Links:

Scottish Samurai Awards Website.
Facebook Page.

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.
Feb 202015
 

With thanks to Esther Green.

Aberdeen Asset Management/Glover Scholarship Winner Bar Soba, 104 Hanover Street, Edinburgh Aberdeen Asset Management has announced that Caroline Marshall (20) is the winner of its prestigious Glover Scholarship scheme whereby a Scottish student is granted the opportunity to maximise their career opportunities by studying in Japan.  Neil Hanna Photography www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk 07702 246823

Caroline Marshall, winner of the 2015 Thomas Glover Scholarship. Neil Hanna Photography www.neilhannaphotography.co.uk

A student has won a prestigious scholarship to visit Japan to study language and culture, following in the footsteps of the Aberdeenshire-born entrepreneur Thomas Glover.

As the winner of the 2015 Thomas Blake Glover Aberdeen Asset Scholarship, Caroline Marshall (20) has been awarded a six-week fully-funded intensive language study course at the International Christian University, Tokyo.

A former pupil of Trinity High School and Stonelaw High School, both Rutherglen, Glasgow, Caroline is in her third year studying law at the University of Edinburgh and hopes to pursue a career in international commercial law.

She has a long-established love of the Japanese tradition of the Takarazuka Forum Theatre, a distinguished all-female acting school. This spawned her interest and admiration in the wider Japanese culture and way of life.

She attends Japanese classes and when she learned about the Thomas Glover Scholarship last year, she felt it would provide a fantastic chance to visit, and learn more about, a country that inspires her.

Caroline says:

“I feel really honoured to be afforded this amazing opportunity as I have been passionate about Japan for a number of years but I have never had the opportunity to go there.

“I never dreamt I would have the opportunity to go to Japan and work on language skills and this will be a huge help to my future career and my plans to go into international commercial law.”

The annual scholarship was initiated by the Japan Society of Scotland and is sponsored by Aberdeen Asset Management. It is open to students from all over Scotland with an interest in business and Japan, with six candidates making it through to final interviews at the Japanese Consulate-General in Edinburgh last month.

The scholarship is named after the Scottish entrepreneur Thomas Blake Glover who was born in Aberdeenshire in 1838. Glover settled in Nagasaki in 1859 and played a critically important role in opening Japan to the west. Known as the Scottish Samurai, he introduced the first railway locomotive, started the Kirin brewery and influenced the industrial development of Mitsubishi.

The scholarship aims to recognise these successes by providing young Scots with the opportunity to learn about business and culture in the hope of further improving Scotland’s historic links with Japan. Aberdeen Asset Management has been investing in Japan since the 1980s, opening an office in Tokyo in 2006.

Martin Gilbert, chief executive of Aberdeen Asset Management, says:

“We are proud to support initiatives which give committed and enthusiastic Scots an opportunity to advance their career opportunities and with a such keen interest in Japan, both culturally and commercially, Caroline was a clear winner.

“This scholarship offers an exceptional opportunity to experience Japanese education, industries and lifestyle and an opportunity to forge new partnerships with the country, which has one of the world’s largest economies.”

More information about the scholarship can be found at www.facebook.com/GloverScholarship, www.twitter.com/gloverscholar  and www.japansocietyofscotland.org.uk/

Aug 012013
 

With Thanks to Jonathan Russell  and Aberdeen CND.

Tuesday 6th August sees the 68th anniversary of the first ever explosion of a nuclear weapon when the United States dropped a nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. This was followed on the 9th August by the explosion of a further nuclear bomb on the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament have organised an event to mark the occasion and remind people of the potential horror of the use of nuclear weapons.

200 peace lanterns will be released onto the river Dee to commemorate the 200,000 men, women and children who died following the nuclear explosions at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Many more died later from injuries or prematurely from the horrendous health effects that followed.

The first speaker at the event will be Christian Allard North East Scotland Regional Member of the Scottish Parliament and member of the international body Parliamentarians for Nuclear non-proliferation and Disarmament. Other speakers include Fiona Napier Chair of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Chic Lidstone from the Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland,  Gabrielle Anderson from the Quakers, Euan Benzie of the Radical Indepence Conference and Jill from Aberdeen Against Austerity,

Poems will be read by Tommy Campbell from Unite and Aberdeen Trades Council. Kirsty Potts will provide some rousing songs.

The last speaker rounding of the event will be the well known Labour Party councillor Len Ironside

The memorial event which is open to all the public to attend will take place on Tuesday 6th August at 8.30pm by the side of the River Dee at the Fishermans hut off Riverside Drive (between the Bridge of Dee and Duthie Park –  see map below)

Jonathan Russell Chair of Aberdeen and District Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament stated:

“For most of us nuclear weapons have been a part of the world we live in for all of our lives. We can as such often put into the back of our minds just how horrific these weapons would be if used. As part of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty and the New Start treaty of December 2010 nearly 50% of these monstrous weapons have been destroyed. 

“There are still however 19,500 Nuclear Weapons in the world – enough to destroy our world several times over. Nuclear Power Stations, if hit directly or if they caught fire in a nuclear strike, would add to the conflagration.”

Date: Tuesday 6th August 2013, at 8.30pm
Venue:  the Fisherman’s Hut on the River Dee
(by Riverside drive )

For further information please contact Jonathan Russell,
Tel 01224 586435
Mobile  07582-456-233
e-mail jhamiltonrussell@hotmail.co.uk

  • Comments enabled – see comments box below. Note, all comments will be moderated.