From the Far East they travelled to the land where the sun barely rises, let alone shines, seeking out the home of the man who turned tail and fled ever before reaching their shores.
There were 10 of them, seven men and three women, all elected assembly members of Ichihara city council near Toyko, on a mission to unearth the expertise of Irish planners before undertaking the expansion of their own sports club, Jef United, at home.
It was to be a learning experience, a chance to see how sports clubs expand seamlessly here. But the icing on the cake, the saki with the sushi, was the chance to tread the same soil as the man they regard as the world’s greatest soccer player, Royzer Keanomoto.
Off they went, on a whistle-stop tour of Royville, taking in Rockmount clubhouse, the nursery to their hero’s talents, then onto Mayfield, his hallowed stomping ground. Along the way they met Marie and Mossie, mother and father to Cork’s most controversial son.
“There was a massive language barrier,” said Rockmount vice-chairman Jim Kelleher, “but it didn’t hold them back.”
Amid much “smiling and nodding and laughing” the men embraced Marie and the women were almost embraced by Mossie, but the cultural barrier prevailed.
It didn’t, however, prevent the rolling out of reams of Fuji film to snap all reminders of Roy.
“They took photographs of the goalposts, even of the grass,” said a clearly bemused Jim Kelleher.
The visitors paid tribute, via an interpreter, to Royzer’s decision to return to international duty. “I am delighted he is back with you,” said Tsuneo Ito, group leader and professor of sports management.
“I think he will be good for Ireland because you need a strong leader. I hope he brings you to the World Cup in Germany.” Roy worship for Mr Ito began before the last World Cup when he was representative of the Japanese FA and he decided to bring his colleagues to Cork to share in his new-found passion. But the trip is unlikely to open up a new tourist route between Cork and Japan. It was a junket by any other name.