College Women's Association of Japan
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Morag Thomson’s Member Spotlight

Tell me about yourself…

My name is Morag Thomson and I was born in Scotland some 80 years ago. As a child, my main aim in life was to become a Primary School teacher. This I achieved, and I graduated from Dundee College of Education in 1961. My husband and I were married in 1963; then began a life of travel, neither of us knowing we would only return to live in Scotland 38 years later.

We have two sons, both born in Switzerland. The elder studied for a year in ICU in Tokyo. He is married to a Japanese girl and they in turn have two sons, one of whom was born in Tokyo. Our younger son and his English wife have five children, including a set of twins.

I have always had a great love of music and singing in particular. Living in several countries around the world afforded me many opportunities to participate in musical events. During our first week in Tokyo in 1986, an advertisement in the Japanese Times invited singers to join a choral group to perform Beethoven’s 9th in German in the NHK Hall. Little did I know I would perform this piece for nine consecutive years, frequently being the only Gaijin in a choir of three hundred.

Another happy musical memory was being invited by Reiko Nagase, CWAJ President in 1986, to join her and Bonnie Armacost, both talented pianists, to narrate Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals” in the US Embassy.

The British Embassy choir, set up and conducted by the Ambassador, the late Sir John Boyd, was another outlet for my musical interest.

The St Andrews Society of Yokohama and Tokyo has existed for over 130 years. During my time in Tokyo, I was honoured by being appointed the first female Chieftain in the Society’s history.

What is your relationship with CWAJ? Both your current position and any previous involvement.

I was introduced to CWAJ in 1988 by an American friend. During my CWAJ membership, from 1988 until leaving Japan in 1995, I was involved in many different areas, the first being Social Coordinator with Machiko Romaine. Although most of my involvement centered around Scholarship, I took the opportunities presented to enjoy many of the other groups, particularly a small music group with Jeannie Ohmae and Kobayashi Kazuko. I held the position of President of CWAJ in 1992, which gave me an insight into the workings of all the groups, of which there were many. At that time, CWAJ membership was between 800-900. The highlight of my Presidency was to host Princess Kiko, who opened that year’s Print Show. A year later, a group of CWAJ members attended a display of the Traveling Print Show in Sydney, Australia.

What are your goals for the future?

Having enjoyed a very interesting life living in six different countries in Asia Pacific and Europe, my goal is to continue to enjoy retirement life in Scotland with my husband and family, hoping for an end to the current global pandemic so that I can return to sing with the local University Choral group, which brings together people of all ages, nationalities, backgrounds, disciplines and interests.

We still have a “bucket list” of places and countries to visit, sights to be seen, concerts and operas to enjoy, restaurants to compare, and friends from the past to catch up with. Assuming continuation of good health, we will work our way through the list.


What would you say to the you 5 or 10 years ago if you had the chance?

I have been extremely lucky to meet so many interesting people, to see so many interesting sites and places, to enjoy so many wonderful experiences around the world; it has been a very full and fulfilling life. Given continued good health, let’s press on into the future and live some more.

What would you like to say to the current members of the CWAJ?

You are members of a very special, unique organization offering so many opportunities. Please grab those opportunities, make the most of your talents and give freely of your time in whatever field you are interested—and enjoy international friendships, friendships that will probably last forever.