Senior Executives who worked in Wales and returned to Japan and had a huge affection for Wales set up Clwb Hiraeth in 1982. ‘Clwb’ is ‘Club’ in the Welsh language the word ‘hiraeth’ means ‘longing’. Members of this unique club act as unofficial ambassadors for Wales. The First Chairman was Mr Yamaguchi of Takiron – the first Japanese company to invest in Wales. The club continues to strengthen the personal and cultural links between Japan and Wales and marked its 30th anniversary in 2012 with a special reception at the British Embassy in Tokyo.
Club members meet regularly and celebrate St David’s Day (1 March), the national day of Wales.
For over 30 years there has been a Japanese Saturday School in Cardiff, south Wales. Established in 1981, the club teaches the children of Japanese business investors and Japanese employees. Like the Welsh, Japanese people value their culture and heritage. The children learn about their Japanese culture and heritage so they can fully adapt when they return home to Japan.
Wales and Japan have a common love of rugby.
Shane Williams, the Welsh record international try scorer, played for Japanese Division Two side Mitsubishi Dynaboars for three years before retiring from the sport. Shane, known as the Welsh rugby wizard, lived in Hashimoto during his time in Japan. He spoke of how he enjoyed it and found everyone very friendly.
Wales last toured Japan in June 2013 playing in the oldest dedicated Rugby union stadium in Japan, Kintetsu Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Osaka, and the home stadium of Japanese rugby, Chichibunomiya Rugby Stadium in Tokyo.
Wales will be heading to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup.