Japan Society Northern Ireland


The Japan Society of Northern Ireland (JSNI) is a voluntary organisation established in September 1996 to promote a greater understanding within Northern Ireland of Japan and its people, culture and language, and to generally foster greater communication between both countries.

The Society currently has around 150 members, of which about 50% are Japanese. The membership is made up of expatriates working in Northern Ireland for Japanese companies or in the universities, those who have moved to Northern Ireland with their families and also local people with business, cultural, educational and other links with Japan.


The Society has organised and promoted a variety of events - cultural, educational and social. These have included the first ever Nihon Buyo performance in Northern Ireland, a koto concert, Japanese tea ceremony, ikebana and calligraphy workshops, kimono and Japanese cookery demonstrations as well as seminars on doing business with Japan. Other events include family trips to museums, boat rides and stately homes, Christmas parties, New Year dinners, bilingual quizzes and pub nights.


The largest event organized by the JSNI in recent years was the matsuri held in Carrickfergus in 2005. This matsuri, which was attended by approximately 3,000 members of the public and was televised on the local BBC News, featured food, dance, tea ceremony, ikebana, bonsai, origami and shodo. Among the highlights were kendo and aikido demonstrations and the taiko drumming of the renowned troupe of Joji Hirota

A bird's-eye view of the 2005 matsuri

Tsuruga Wakasonojo XI

More recently in September 2009, to mark 150 years of UK-Japan relations, the Society hosted a performance by Shinnai (a type of traditional Japanese music) master and Japanese National Living Treasure the 11th Wakasanojo Tsuruga. The Shinnai songs touched many of those who saw them, Japanese and local people alike.


We also frequently attend or provide information to our members on Japan-related events that occur in Northern Ireland. For instance, some of the members cheered on the Japanese U-18 rugby team at the world championships held in Belfast in 2007 and members are kept fully informed of Japanese movies being shown at the Queens Film Theatre in Belfast. Including the Akira Kurosawa film season on show at the QFT in July/August this year. In addition, we assist in the welcoming and orientation in Northern Ireland of various Japanese groups visiting the region, for instance recently helping with a film shoot featuring Japanese actors.

The new Society year beginning in September is to feature a number of activities, including a food event, a bilingual quiz, a family Christmas party, a New Year party, a Spring celebration and our annual meeting. For the future, we are considering another larger-scale event and exchange visits to Japan. Please check out our website or Facebook group for updates on our events, and if youre visiting Northern Ireland at the time of one or more of our events, then please come along. We can always be reached using the contact us feature on the website.


For further information about JSNI, visit: www.japansociety-ni.org.uk

Dr Cathal J. McElgunn
Secretary, Japan Society of Northern Ireland