Six young students from Japan visited St Ninian’s High School recently as part of a cultural exchange visit to Scotland.
East Dunbartonshire has been twinned with the town of Yoichi in Hokkaido, Japan, since 1988, following the realisation of a link with Kirkintilloch.
Masataka Taketsuru came to Scotland in 1918 to study at Glasgow University and trained at various distilleries in the Highlands. He was the first Japanese person ever to study the art of whisky making.
Kirkintilloch girl Rita Cowan met Masataka while he was teaching her younger brother jujitsu at the family home in Kirkintilloch. They were married in 1920, and returned to Japan in 1921. As part of their visit, the students were given a tour of the school by the senior pupils, and they shared presentations about each other’s cultures. The Japanese students were treated to some Highland dancing and Scottish bagpipes, while the St Ninian’s students learned about the Japanese art of origami.
Frances Glancy, senior pupil at St Ninian’s, said: “It was a fantastic experience to meet our Japanese visitors and to hear about the connection their town has with Kirkintilloch. We really enjoyed learning about the art of origami and calligraphy and we hope to keep in contact with them in the future.”
The students also received a civic welcome from East Dunbartonshire Provost Una Walker in the council chambers.
Provost Walker said: “It was a pleasure to welcome these young people who were an absolute credit to their school and their country. Friendships were formed between the two groups of students which I hope will endure for many years to come.
“It’s extremely important that we keep our heritage alive and pass the bonds of this friendship on to the next generation.”
During their two day visit, the delegation visited the Auld Kirk Museum, William Patrick Library and Mugdock Country Park. They also visited the Glengoyne Distillery in Dumgoyne to learn first-hand how Scottish whisky is made, and they took a tour of Glasgow city centre, stopping off at Glasgow University.