Wednesday, May 10, 2006


One of the minor perks of being an expat in Japan is that when some British VIP scientist person visits, we tend to get invited to make up the numbers at a party at the Embassy - which is a rather nice building with a lovely garden in the middle of Tokyo. For example, a couple of weeks ago we got to meet Sir John Hougton of IPCC and Hadley Centre fame, who was in town to pick up one of the two Japan Prizes awarded annually (Japan's answer to the Nobel prizes). A couple of years ago it was the turn of Sir John Lawton - who was Chief Executive of NERC (and therefore my boss4 or thereabouts) back when I was in the UK. It is interesting to see both the high importance that the Japanese attach to environmental science, and the prominence of UK scientists in their thoughts. Anyway, I'm digressing.

Last night, we were back at the embassy for a party in no-one in particular's honour - it was just the annual early summer party of the Cambridge and Oxford Society of Tokyo. The current Ambassador very generously maintains the long-running tradition of hosting a party before it gets too hot to enjoy the garden (and showing a video of The Boat Race). Of course, it goes without saying that the ambassador is always a member of the Society - in fact he is always its President, although these days perhaps there is a little more nervousness than there used to be at the time of a new appointment :-) Much to our surprise, Crown Prince Naruhito was there as well, plugging his newly-translated book (sans wife though). He looked relaxed and pleased to be there, and even (so jules says) cute, but also perhaps a little....smaller than we had expected (jules even rather cruelly suggested that a bit of foreign blue-eyed blood might help to keep the royal family from disappearing under the tables completely). Neither of us dared to interrupt the halo of female admirers that seemed to follow him wherever he went. I also resisted the temptation to balance my wine glass on his head, or ping profiteroles across the room at him. Which considering the generous quantities of both which were made available, was remarkably restrained, I thought.

Oh, and the best team won, too.

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