Scottish-Japanese links

I recently discovered a link between Edinburgh, Scotland (where I live now) and Japan, where I lived for two years after graduation.   

Edinburgh man Victor Murphy joined the British Royal Air Force when he left school and retired a group captain in 1971.  He began a lasting relationship with Japan and the Japanese people during the Korean War in the 1950s and also developed a love of art. 

It is thanks to Murphy’s interests in all things Japanese as well as the visual and decorative arts that Edinburgh is now home to his legacy – the Morita Museum of Fine Art. A member of Museums and Galleries Scotland, the museum has around 7,000 items of works of art in the fields of paintings, ceramics, glass, textiles, clocks and furniture.  Items from the collection have been exhibited in Scotland and Japan.

The museum is supported by the Victor Murphy Memorial Trust, the chair and founder of which is Kozo Hoshino, who met Murphy following the latter’s retirement when the Hoshino was a young Japanese student of English at Edinburgh University.  Hishino-san, now himself in his 60s, has settled in Edinburgh and runs the charity, museum, and associated businesses.   The Museum and Trust headquarters are also a 3-bedroomed Bed & Breakfast establishment, Art House Morita, which gets rave reviews on Trip Advisor.  The new Art Café Morita, in the tourist heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, has recently opened in support of the Trust.  Both have artworks from the collection on display. Read my review of the cafe here.

the eclectic menu at Art Cafe Morita, Edinburgh

The museum, charity trust, B&B and café are clearly a labour of love.  In the festival city of Edinburgh, they are a guaranteed hit with Japanese tourists and art-loving locals alike.

© Lynn Sheppard

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