It seems there’s been even more of an exodus than usual for diplomatic friends the last few months. Over at the luxurious restaurant W, the Dean of the Corps, Djibouti Ambassador Rachad Farah, hosted a sayonara for four outgoing Ambassadors: Pakistani Ambassador Touqir Hussain, Nepalese Ambassador Khedar Bhakta Mathema, Colombian Ambassador Carlos Gutierrez and Belarus Ambassador Petr Krauchanka. It’s never easy saying goodbye to friends, but one has to be happy to have had the privilege of knowing them and the opportunity to wish others all the best.
Ewa Kumlin, wife of the former Swedish Ambassador to Japan, was back for a few days to work on a project for a big Japanese cultural exhibition in Stockholm. Friends were happy to see her at an evening presentation: Swedish-style news and trends hosted by Swedish Ambassador Mikael Lindstrom and his wife Kirstine. Travel safely when you go about these days.
My thanks to actor/producer Danny De Vito for sending the members of what’s sure to be a big band, Natural, to the Lex. The Orlando-based group has the same management as super groups Backstreet Boys and ‘N Sync. They’ve also got the same look. Natural’s single, “Put Your Arms Around Me;’ climbed to No. 2 in Germany, and their CD is on the Billboard charts. BMG just released their hits here in Japan. Good people I’m sure you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot about.
It was a butt-bumping crowd at the Egyptian Embassy for the 5th annual Arab Charity Bazaar. The colorful, interesting and exciting event is a major fundraiser for the many charity projects of the Society of Wives of Arab Ambassadors and Heads of Mission in Japan (SWAAJ). Happy to report handicrafts, jewelry, fasnion and food from the 13 participating countries all sold very well. Tazuko (Hala) Farah, wife of the Djibouti Ambassador and President of SWAAJ, told me the colorful and crowded event raised a considerable amount for many of the organization’s charity projects. I always enjoy the bazaar and seeing so many people meeting and mixing with my Arab friends, and learning more about the history and culture of their countries.
One of Tokyo’s most popular and the world’s most traveled couples, Mitsuo and Lilo Maruyama hosted a Chinese lunch for their diplomatic friends (with a few other people) at the Capitol Tokyu. Kudos to the hotel’s Starhill restaurant chef. The meal with nearly 15 different dishes was fit for an emperor. The Maruyamas have really been on the move the last month or so and when they come back will probably have earned their place as the most traveled couple in the Guinness Book of Records. That is the way to go my friends.
I parked at the Hanae Mori Building where Guinness had made their headquarters, and passed a long line waiting to get a big glass of lreland and one of world’s favorite beers. ‘walked up to Kiddyland and across the street where the parade was starting. People who led the parade included visiting Irish Agriculture and Food Minister Liam Aylward, Irish Ambassador Padraig Murphy, and U.S. legal attache James Moynihan and his wife Hiroko. Once the parade got started, it was almost an hour of marching bands, drum majorettes, fun floats, bagpipers, dancing clubs, school groups, the Irish community, Irish pubs, their friends, and many more who enjoyed playing Irish for the day. I, along with all the other Americans, felt very proud when the precision marching U.S. Army Japan Band, who took part in the parade, played song such as “America the Beautiful” and “The Marine’s Hymn.” It was very cloudy, and the Irish ambassador was right when he told me, “With the luck of the Irish, the rain will hold off until after the parade:’ That’s exactly what happened. Kudos to the Irish Network and the many others who went all-out to make this year’s St. Patrick’s Day parade the biggest and best yet here in Japan.
Aston Martin Gala Evening
lt was a glittering evening glamor galore in the Hilton Tokyo’s Kikunoma Ballroom when Aston Martin hosted a Gala Evening to introduce distributors of one of the world’s most prestigious cars. I couldn’t stay for the whole evening, but am really glad l did put on a tux and drop by. A beautiful Aston Martin was on display in the hotel lobby and another on the fourth floor next to the ballroom. Former F1 Driver Agari Suzuki was there, and we discovered we have many mutual friends. These include retired Irish driver Eddie Irvine who was in Tokyo a few weeks ago. I had to leave after the second course of the gourmet meal. Sorry about that. The menu was first class all the way. After dinner, everyone there enjoyed a special screening of 20th Century Fox’s latest 007 film, “Die Another Day!’ If you’ve seen the Bond films, which I’m sure most of you have, you know Aston Martin is the car of James Bond’s movies. As I left, Mary Katayama made sure I had a great miniature of an Aston Martin. Kinda think that’s the closest I’ll ever get to the legendary luxury car.
I took off Apr. 15 for a weekend in Thailand and, if all goes as planned and God willing, I’ll be back here on the 22nd in time for the APLFS Festival and all those opening parties at Roppongi Hills. I’m also planning to fly Austrian Airlines to Vienna in early June with side trips to Berlin, Budapest, Prague and Bucharest. As the song goes, ‘I’m going to live ’til I die.” As long as the airlines are flying, I’ll be flying.
Over at the Think Zone in front of Roppongi Hills Grand Hyatt, Tokyo President/CEO Kanji Ohashi and the Hotel’s G.M. Xavier Destribats hosted a series of primo-class pre-opening dinners. I was able to get to the last one and really enjoyed the evening of superb food and interesting people.
If you’re not a member, you know that parking at the Tokyo American Club is about as impossible as things can get. Even so, my sincerest thanks to the nice guys doing their noteasy job for letting me park for 30 minutes to run into the club, go up to the 4th floor and check out the very happening Kudos Travel Fair 2003. I saw a lot of friends in the travel/tourism business as well as others looking for travel opportunities and bargains.
Our city changes by the day. Homme Fashion’s Christine Thome told me the Seishido bookshop at Roppongi Crossing is closing. Christine was looking for boutique space, but “a pharmacy had already rented the space:’
What many consider “a real shame” is happening over in Harajuku. The several blocks of old apartments across from the Tokyo Union Church are scheduled to bite the dust. A lot of people I know tried to stop this, but to no avail. Just about all those little boutiques and galleries have moved out. Rumors have it there will be another Mori, or Mori-like, project going up there.
Once you’ve purchased all that great food for your Easter meals, move up to National Azabu Supermarket’s second floor and check out the Easter decorations to help you make it a happier holiday. They have special napkins, paper plates and cups. Household decor includes Easter door borders, wall and hanging bunnies, eggs and the like. There’s also a wide variety of Easter egg decorating kits … rainbow, speckle, groovy, shimmer, sparkle and dabbles. Sure brings back memories of childhood Easters back in Perrysburg, Ohio.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender