A Japanese violinist joining an Irish band may seem incongruous but it is happening at the Grand Hotel this month.

Ike Fujimura lived in Whanganui when he was manager of the Nagaizumi Friendship Centre in Whanganui East and became friends with Muirsheen Durkin band leader Michael Smyth.

Although Fujimura returned to Nagaizumi in 2006, he has stayed in contact with his Whanganui friends and his performance with the band is part of a social visit.

"He plans to renew acquaintances as well as play violin in this 'world famous in Whanganui Irish band'," says Smyth.


The Nagaizumi Friendship Centre closed when funding was withdrawn in 2014 and the tea house was moved to Bason Botanic gardens the following year but friendship between the sister cities has continued.

Muirsheen Durkin has been providing free Sunday lunchtime concerts at the Grand Hotel for the past year and Smyth says this will be the last one.

The eight-piece band normally consists of guitars, mandolin, banjo, penny whistle, harmonica, bodhran (Irish frame drum) and tenor sax.

Smyth says members are looking forward to having a violinist join them and the performance will have "hints of a Japanese flavour."

Muirsheen Durkin with Ike Fujimura: Grand Hotel Irish Bar, Sunday, January 13, 12pm to 1.30pm. Free entry.