Burns Night at Hilton Nagoya
January 28, 2017

The Chubu branch of the Japan Scotland Association (JSA) will hold its first Burns Supper at the Hilton Nagoya Hotel on January 28th 2017 from 18:30 to 21:30. Guests will be treated to some of Burns’ better-known poems, traditional Scottish food and drink (including a small whisky tasting), a PowerPoint presentation on the life and times of Burns, bagpipe music and a quiz with prizes for the winning team; said teams to be decided on the evening.

Guest speakers include Michael Kruse, who will toast the lassies, and Patrice Pendell, who will raise a glass to the laddies. Brian Gallagher will give his rendition of Tam o’Shanter, Wee Seth William Wallace will recite the poem, To a Mouse, and Gerry McLellan will Address the Haggis. Hilton GM Felix Busch will host the small whisky tasting, Hideki Asai, a Japanese piper who studied the pipes in Nova Scotia, will be there with his bagpipes, and expert whisky taster Nana Inoue will sing one of Burns’ more popular songs.

For those unfamiliar with Burns, he was born in Alloway, Scotland in 1759 and was a poet who wrote chiefly in the Scots dialect. Although he only lived until his 30s, he is credited with over 700 works. Burns is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic Movement and he became a source of inspiration to the founders of liberalism and socialism. Abraham Lincoln was a great admirer of Burns and it would certainly do no harm for some more contemporary presidents in waiting to peruse some pages from his books.

Gerry McLellan, head of the Chubu branch of the JSA is confident that those unfamiliar with Burns will grow to love his writing as much as he does.

“I had to study Burns at primary school when I was a boy,” says Gerry. “ A few years later, I used to go for a couple of beers at a pub called the ‘Globe Inn.’ It was and still is quite extraordinary to think that Burns used to sit in that same pub, drink beer and write poetry 250 years before I did! I used to hope that some of his magic would rub off on me. I gave up hoping long since, but I can still appreciate his words.”

Gerry goes on to say that he was surprised to learn that more statues had been dedicated to Burns than any other non-religious figure other than Queen Victoria and Christopher Columbus. He also told Nag Mag why he is keen to have the Burns Supper.

“I think it is important to impart some traditions on your children, perhaps more so when you live in a country with a culture totally different from that which you yourself grew up in. Burns Suppers have been held on or around January 25th since the first one in 1801. They have a long history and I am happy to introduce the custom to Nagoya. We are hoping to have somewhere between 30-40 guests this year, but it would be great if it could grow to become an annual event in the Nagoya Calendar.”

As Gerry mentioned, the first Supper was held a few years after the death of Burns. Some of his friends assembled for dinner and to celebrate his life and works. They had such a great time that they decided to meet again the following year. Little did they know what they had started!

Burn’s popularity grew rapidly after his death, as did the custom of celebrating his life. The first supper outwith Scotland took place at the university of Oxford in 1806 and thence London in 1810. From there, it travelled the globe. India saw its first Burns Supper in 1812. Today Burns is also popular in Russia and China, and both countries celebrate the Bard’s birthday.

If you would like to see what all the fuss is about, contact Gerry and reserve a seat at the table! Spaces are limited, so please do not show up without a reservation!

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