Lady Fry, wife of British Ambassador Sir Graham Fry, is director of the Art of Dining Exhibition on March 7. All proceeds from this event go to Refugees International Japan, a volunteer organization with world-wide relief projects.
Lady Fry at the British Embassy, Japan, occupies a unique position. She is the first Japanese lady to serve here as wife of the British ambassador. “At first I felt nervous,” she said. “Now I feel at home.”
The youngest of three sisters, all born in Tokyo, she attended the Sacred Heart School and University. Undoubtedly, she was discreetly schooled in her native culture and elegance. Undoubtedly also, when she graduated with her degree in modern Japanese literature, she was very well grounded in modern English conversation. Before long she had gone to live in New York and Chicago, where her ability in English sharpened.
“Then I went to London,” Fry continued. “There I worked as a teacher of Japanese language at the Euro-Japanese Exchange Foundation. I very much enjoyed teaching Japanese to British students, and kept it up after I returned to Tokyo.” In her hometown again, Fry worked as the EJEF Tokyo representative.
“I had some British students in my Tokyo classes,” Fry went on. “One of them was in the British Embassy. He invited me to a reception, where I met Graham Fry. We were married in London a few years later.
I like being in England,” Fry said. With her parents-in-law retired to Dorset, she often journeyed to visit them in their favored English county. While her husband served in the Foreign Office, Fry was caught up in the myriad duties of wife of a senior government officer. She also indulged her taste for visiting museums to see outstanding objects of arts and crafts.
She joined in the bird watching that was her husband’s longstanding hobby. “We went to many different places which I enjoyed so much. And I got my dog,” she said.
Fry said that she was a puppy walker for the British Association for Guide Dogs for the Blind. “All the dogs in training had to pass examinations to carry on to fund-raising in the streets and becoming guide dogs for the blind,” Fry said. “But the puppy I walked was rejected. He failed to pass his test at six months. So I took him to be our own pet. He is 12 years old now, a good traveler and still with us.”
In 1998, Fry was introduced to the duties and pleasures of being an ambassador’s wife. Her husband was appointed British ambassador to Malaysia, “such a beautiful country.” On their return to London, Fry was asked to be a governor of the English-speaking Union, which is based there. She still holds this position.
Shortly after being appointed ambassador to Japan in 2004, Sir Graham Fry was knighted. Sharing in his elevation, his wife maintains her ease of manner and friendliness. When she is entertaining, she always tries to write her guests’ names in calligraphy and to give Japanese touches to her table settings.
“Normally at the British Embassy and residence, it’s a very busy life. Still, it is such a pleasure for me to be able to see my sisters and my mother, and to make so many new friends. While I am in Japan, I want to continue seeing flowers, big trees and birds, and visiting places I have never been before.”
Fry said, “Gradually, since I arrived, I became involved in the events organized by Refugees International Japan. These include the Fund-raising Auction at the Embassy, the Concert, and the Christmas Tree celebration. Now we have the Art of Dining Exhibition.” For her first time, Fry is serving as director of this show day.
During its years of operation, Refugees International Japan, a volunteer organization, has concerned itself with relieving the hardships of refugees. In practical ways it shows its compassion for people in their crises. Although it moves its focus as the needs of the times change, its main thrust is always on three fronts: shelter, food and water, and education.
“Shelter for people who have lost their homes, wherever they are, is essential, “Fry said. “Clean water and food can make the difference between life and death for them. Educating refugees to manage in their new circumstances is a equally a priority. Art of Dining each year in Tokyo is a one-day event that raises money to help fund our refugee projects.”
In its 17th year, Art of Dining has invited some 20 leading local people known for their wit and style to set tables for display in the Westin Hotel, Yebisu Garden Place, on Wed., March 7, 10:30 — 6:30.
A minimum of 3,000 yen at the door or in advance secures admission to the event and goes to charity.