Gerry Lanigan
President, The Ireland Fund of Japan
By: Steve Trautlein | Feb 4, 2010 | Issue: 828 | No Comments | 2,667 views

Where are you from and what brought you to Japan?
I am from Dublin in Ireland. My wife Anne’s appointment as Director of Enterprise Ireland (Irish Trade Board) prompted the move to Japan.

What do you do now?
I am an independent management consultant, operating in the financial services and telecommunications sectors. On a voluntary basis, I am involved with the Ireland Fund of Japan.

Tell us about the Ireland Fund.
The Ireland Fund of Japan is a philanthropic organization founded in 1993. Funds raised through the Emerald Ball each year are used to promote arts, education, cultural awareness and community development. Japanese and Irish schools have twinning arrangements and, with our support, high school kids spend time in Ireland and Japan. Eleven-year-old kids from Japan have visited the president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, in her official residence, and Irish and Japanese students have marched in the St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Omotesando. In addition, we support the Japan Helpline and a homeless reestablishment program in Osaka.

What is different about the Emerald Ball?
The Tokyo Emerald Ball is Ireland’s key event in Japan. It is a formal occasion that raises funds for worthwhile causes. However, the Irish take a very informal approach to formality. Guests who join us for the Emerald Ball at the Westin Hotel, on March 13, will be guaranteed a wonderful evening. All the main ingredients for a true Irish atmosphere will be in place—excellent food and drink, great company, superior entertainment, music and dance and, of course, the Irish “craic.” Where else can you have the satisfaction of helping others whilst having a fantastic time? I look forward to seeing you there.

What’s your recipe for a perfect day in Tokyo?
A visit to Yoyogi Park is a must. My wife and I walk through the park observing the almost lunatic-type behavior of the alternative Japanese people. A man is gesticulating and shouting furiously at himself; another is playing the bagpipes very badly in the trees. A woman goes by with a dog dressed in drag hanging out of her handbag. A few dozen Elvises are prancing out of tune at the Harajuku gate. Some girls look like wind-up dolls in ridiculous clothes. We leave and comment that they are all crazy. What is worrying me after seven years here is that we go there most Sunday afternoons!

For more information about the Emerald Ball, see www.emeraldballtokyo.com.

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