TRIBUTES have been paid to a popular Cardigan personality "loved by all", who has died after a short illness aged 80.

Shimazaki Akira, who was better known as Jac Bara Caws, had made Ceredigion his home after moving from Japan in the late 1960s.

He had graduated from one of the most prestigious universities in Japan, Gakushuin University in Tokyo, with a degree in classical philosophy.

He went on to study political science at Aberystwyth University, and loved the area so much that he bought a house in Cardigan.

He opened café Bara Caws soon after his studies ended, and it became a popular place to meet and a busy hub for bikers on the street in Pendre.

A Welsh speaker, Jac was forced to wait for 29 years for a permanent visa to stay in Wales, and this was finally granted in 1996.

His application had been supported by a petition which was signed by over a thousand residents of Cardigan.

He even made UK political history by becoming the first Japanese national to be elected as a town councillor, representing Plaid Cymru on the Mwldan ward of Cardigan Town.

At one time he also taught his native Japanese language at the University of Wales in Newport, South Wales, as well as locally.

In recent years he made twice annual visits to his home to Tokyo, and encouraged his Welsh friends to travel to the city of his birth to see its great charm and beauty.

A spokesperson for Cardigan Bowls Club, where he was a popular member, said "He had been a social member since the seventies, and he was a man loved by all.

"He spent many an hour entertaining bowlers by playing Welsh hymns on our electric organ and every Christmas Day he would treat members to a shot of Suntory whiskey.

"This Christmas, Jac was confined to bed and very poorly, but he made arrangements for our club steward Lorna to collect a bottle from his house so that he could treat our members.

"This was a true testament of the man."

He added: "Jac was an avid cook and would often introduce members to Japanese cookery, and he was very handy for sourcing Asian ingredients which he would duly deliver when required.

"He was indeed a colourful character, with a sharp wit and a warm personality and very proud to be a Welsh speaker.

"He will be sadly missed by all his friends, and especially at Clwb Bowlio Aberteifi where he was hugely respected."

Shimazaki Akira passed away peacefully in the care of Brondesbury Lodge Nursing Home on Sunday, January 9.

His public funeral service will take place at St Mary's Church, Cardigan on Friday January 21st at 11:00am, followed by interment at St Brynach's Church, Nevern.

Peter Evans Funeral Directors' public notice stated: "His many friends were his family."