Tue | Aug 22, 2017

Two-in-one Celebration for Japan

Published:Sunday | September 4, 2016 | 9:00 AMKrysta Anderson
Outgoing Deputy Commissioner and Counsellor of the Japanese Embassy in Jamaica Hiromoto Oyama says farewell in style, performing Bob Marley's 'One Love' with his guitar, singing in both English and Japanese.
Rocking radiant smiles to fit the occasion are cultural officer at the Japanese embassy Reika Inoue (left) and president of the Japan Exchange and Teach Alumni Association, Roxanne Seaton-Chambers.
Pretty in floral pink is Ruth Potopsingh.
The lovely Kadija Richards of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade is sandwiched by Garth Gayle, general secretary of Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (right) and head of the Russian consular section Andrey Dryakin.
It's a Japanese affair! From left: wife of Japanese Ambassador Keiko Nakano, outgoing deputy commissioner and counsellor at the Japan Embassy in Jamaica, Hiromoto Oyama, Japanese ambassador to Jamaica, Masanori Nakano and incoming deputy commissioner and counsellor at the Japan Embassy Shinichi Yamanaka.
Hillary Alexander pauses the evening's celebrations for a photo-op.
Natalie Blythe is in high spirits as she entered the Japanese farewell reception.
JPS' CEO Kelly Tomblin at the Japan farewell cocktails.
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Parting was truly such sweet sorrow for those who attended the farewell reception for deputy commissioner and counsellor at the Japanese Embassy in Jamaica, Hiromoto Oyama on Tuesday, August 23.

Specially invited guests gathered at the home of Japanese Ambassador Masanori Nakano, to share good memories and great laughs.

Red and white wine, sake, orange and cranberry juices, and Red Stripe beer made the rounds as friends interacted. By sunset, the cocktail room was almost filled to capacity.

Kerry Johnson, the master of ceremonies, introduced the ambassador and welcomed everyone to the special occasion. In his opening remarks, Nakano thanked everyone for coming, noting that he never likes to say goodbye, and was especially saddened to be saying farewell to his dear friend, Oyama.

He spoke of the integral role Oyama has played in strengthening bilateral relations, from 2012 and praised him for his work in 2014 for the Japanese and Jamaican independence celebrations. He highlighted, too, that Oyama was not only resilient at work, but was also quite the adventurer - having climbed the Blue Mountains not once or twice, but eight times! He noted that on the one occasion he decided to join Oyama, he felt like he was about to die when he reached the top.

Ambassador Nakano revealed that Oyama is also known as the 'singing diplomat'. Oyama lived up to his alias when he ended the formal proceedings by performing with the help of a guitar, Bob Marley's One Love, with a Japanese twist.

In his remarks, Oyama started out by saying that he was overwhelmed with emotions that he just could not put into words. He instead shared many memorable moments during his time in Jamaica - having the Japanese festival and Japanese fleets visit the island for their 50th independence anniversary in 2014, as well as the visit of the country's prime minister. But what stood out the most for him were the friendships he has formed with the Jamaican people.

Oyama described Jamaicans as people with great hospitality and as the most hardworking in the entire Americas. Showing so much affection towards Jamaicans, he said, is a reflection of the "one love" Jamaica has given him.

The night's celebrations had two parts. Not only was there reminiscing on the tremendous work Oyama has done over the years, there was also welcoming of his replacement - Shinichi Yamanaka.

Yamanaka, who recently arrived from Lithuania, is not a complete stranger to Jamaica, having visited the island on numerous occasions (spending most of his time in meetings and hotel rooms). He expressed joy in being on the island, and said he was ready to receive the baton from Oyama, and carry on the work of building relations between Jamaica and Japan. He declared that he would try to hike the Blue Mountains, but was more of a tennis man. He invited those in attendance who were interested to join him in the game some time.

After a toast to Oyama and his spirited performance, it was off to the food stations for everyone had worked up an appetite. They moved the party to a beautiful semi al fresco setting, where the mingling continued.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com