Partner Focus - CCÉ Japan
Q1 Tell me about your organisation?
Established in 1951, Comhaltas Ceoltóirí Éireann is the largest group in Ireland that has been involved in the preservation and promotion of Irish traditional music. It is a non-profit organization and has branches all over the world. Comhaltas Japan, or CCÉ Japan, was recognized as the first Asian branch in 1991 (and it is still the only branch in the Asian region).
Since then, we have run regular music and dance classes as well as special workshops, organized events for Irish culture, e.g. Féile Tokyo, and co-operated with other bodies to support Irish-related events such as I LOVE IRELAND FESTIVAL and St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
For our members, most of whom are musicians, dancers or lovers of Irish culture, we do our best to create a close bond. Moreover, we intend to further promote Irish traditional music, dancing, singing and Irish language in Japan.
Q2 Why did your organisation set up in Japan?
In the early 1990’s, Irish music was not well-known in Japan but there were some enthusiastic musicians playing in restaurants and small venues in Tokyo. One of them was a musician from Ireland and he decided to found Comhaltas branch in Japan to foster Irish traditional music here. He set up a committee consisting of Irish, American, Australian and Japanese nationalities living in Tokyo then. The committee worked hard to introduce Irish culture to Japanese people and started music and dance classes. Soon the branch was officially approved by the headquarters in Ireland.
Q3 What initiatives are you looking forward to in the next year?
This year, we were forced to cancel one of our annual events, Féile Tokyo.
Féile is a festival for Irish traditional music and dancing, usually organized by Comhaltas overseas branches worldwide. There are music and dancing workshops, concerts, sessions and céilís (dance gathering with live music) during the event. On top of it, official qualifying music/dancing competitions, adjudicated by official adjudicators from Ireland, are held and qualifiers, if applicable, are given the right to compete at All Ireland Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Ireland, the world's largest annual celebration of Irish culture. We would like to organize Féile Tokyo next year.
In addition, we continue to hold classes and workshops and participate in Irish-related events for the promotion of Ireland and Irish culture.
Q4 For you, why is involvement in the IJCC important?
Japan and Ireland have built a great relationship and more and more Japanese people have encountered Irish culture. In order to expand the interest, we need to collaborate with all the bodies that are involved in Ireland. For many IJCC members, business may be the main reason to join the membership, but it will be also very important for them to learn about Ireland through music, which is a rich cultural heritage of the country. Knowing the culture could contribute to enhancing business relationships.
We are sure that we will be able to work together to increase the interest in Irish-related businesses and Irish heritages.
Q5 How can ties between Ireland and Japan become closer?
Face-to-face communications are essential to become closer but the current situation makes it difficult. Sharing intangible cultures, such as music and dances, can strengthen our bond even if we can do it online only. For the moment, we try to keep in touch with people in Ireland through music and dance as much as possible.
In the future, however, it would be great to have more opportunities to see each other in face for business and cultural exchanges.
For detailed information and upcoming events please check:
Ms. Rieko Yamashita, President of CCÉ Japan