Scottish woman who became ‘Mother of Japanese Whisky’ inspiration for this year’s Kirkintilloch Canal Festival

Inspiration for this year’s Kirkintilloch Canal Festival is being draw from an enduring love story - stretching from Scotland to the Far East.

Rita Cowan is known as the Mother of Japanese Whisky
Rita Cowan is known as the Mother of Japanese Whisky

Rita Cowan’s fateful meeting with Japanese student Masataka Taketsuru took place at her home in Kirkintilloch almost exactly 100 years ago.

The spirited pair fell in love in 1919, married in 1920 and then crossed the globe to forge Nikka Whisky, one of Japan’s most successful and best-known whisky companies.

Rita - a former Lenzie Academy pupil, who became known as the ‘Mother of Japanese Whisky’ - remains a legend in her adopted homeland.

The Strathkelvin area is twinned with Yoichi in northern Japan, where Nikka’s first distillery was created.

Kirkintilloch Canal Festival will offer up a range of free entertainment celebrating the centenary of their meeting, their story and Japanese culture.

The events kick-off with the ‘Rita and Masataka’ exhibition at Kirkintilloch Town Hall which runs from August 20-October 3 and the Barony Chambers is hosting Ceramics: Give It A Try Raku on August 30.

On August 31 the William Patrick Library is hosting a whole range of events including: Bookbug in Japan, ‘Origami Made Easy’ workshop by Mari Itoh of Mariko Design Creations, Puppet Making, Manga Workshop, Stepps Songsters present ‘Songsters Sing Japan’, Martial Arts Demonstrations from Zanshin Kai Karate Club, and Japanese Song and Dance.

Bookign may be advisable for some events, for more information visit