By Michael Doyle

During a recent visit to Japan, as I was meandering around the narrow streets of Jiyugaoka, Tokyo, much to my surprise I came across O’Carolan’s Irish pub.  It was a very hot day and I was rather thirsty, so my luck was in.

As I climbed the 20 or so steps to the hostelry and ventured inside to my amazement it was indeed a traditional Irish pub.  The dark wooden floor boards, the rustic chairs and tables reminded me of a pub in Oughterard, “The Fisherman’s Inn” which is situated a few minutes from the local Catholic Church.  The wonderful aroma of Irish whiskey was still in the air and for a Proustian moment I was transported back to Connemara.

I ordered myself a pint of Kilkenny beer and it went down a treat.  As I looked around the pub, the walls were covered with memorabilia from Ireland which included hurling sticks, agricultural tools and the like.  The display gave a great visual description of Irish life and culture.

The cook was busy preparing a traditional Irish stew during the evening as the Japanese love this type of food.

I exchanged greetings with the owner Mr Masayiki Kareda who was a great admirer of Irish culture and history.  During the course of my conversation I asked if I could give a rendition of Danny Boy, which he agreed.  Much to my surprise when I started my “party piece” he joined in and so did the customers.  It was indeed a great experience for me to share the spirit of Ireland in the land of “The Rising Sun.”

The following day I drove into the countryside to Meiwa-cho in the Mie Prefecture.  The landscape and morning mist reminded me of The Twelve Bensin Connemara.

In fact as I drove around the mountains my thoughts were moved to when I motored along The Sky Road with the famous song Connemara sung by Michael Sardou which captured the historical nature of the area and its great past.

There is another Connemara in the world and that is in the Mie Prefecture in Japan.