Thai Ambassador Kasit Piromya and his wife Chintana, will be heading for Washington soon. He’s to be the new Thai Ambassador to the U.S. More on this later.
I was happy when vocalistcomposer Annie Lennox, along with “Lord of the Rings” coscreenwriter Fran Walsh Peter Jackson’s long-time companion – won the Golden Globe award and an Oscar for the film’s song “Into the West.” Annie gained fame as a pop fashion icon in the ’80s and is a real individual best known for her string of hits with Eurythmics co-founder Dave Stewart. I partied with Annie whenever she was in Tokyo, and she has to be one of the coolest people I’ve ever met. She’s a single mom, raising her two daughters in London and is busy promoting her first album of new material in years, Bare. Hope it does well.
Idol-maker Johnny Kitagawa just never slows down. In addition to promoting his many idols who include Kinki Kids, SMAP, “lbkyo, \/-6, as weU as concerts, commercials, TV shows and hit recordings, he-or rather his company, Johnny Jimusho – has bought the Globe Theater in Shinjuku. They completely renovated the building and re-opened with a Johnny production of “Romeo and Juliet: ‘One of his idols, Tackey, had a week of SRO audiences at the Imperial Theater in a musical, “Dream Boy:’ written especially for him. Following the success of the production here, the show wiLL move to Osaka for a month’s run in May.
Still down at the Imperial Theater, another of Johnny’s idols, Koichi Dohmoto, was back for a month’s run of an updated version of Johnny’s hit musical, “Shock:’ Tickets sell out the first day they go on sale for this show, and scalpers ask- and often get – as much as ¥80,000 from Koichi’s teenage fans. Another of Johnny’s current projects is a production of”West Side Story” ” which will run from July 2 to Aug. 5 here in Tokyo, before moving to Osaka. One of the veteran groups, the threeman Shonenkai, is reuniting Lo star in the show.
Another Oscar-winner, screenplay writer and director Sofia Coppola, visited Tokyo to promote “Lost in Translation” for Tohokushinsha. If the location looks familiar, it’s because most of the film was shot in the prestigious Park Hyatt Tokyo.
Director Tun Burton was in town to promote his film “Big Fish” for Sony. From all reports, it’s a different kind of film for Tim – and really good. He dropped by the Lex with a couple of the Sony staffers and ended up staying five hours. The U.S. military bases get films before they’re released in Japan, and a laid-back Tim really seemed to appreciate a few marines telling him how much they enjoyed “Big Fish:’
Also for Sony, Tobey Maguire had a busy few days promoting “Spiderman 2:1 I was at the RI) “Art of Dining” exhibition at the Westin Hotel and Irish Ambassador Padraig Murphy’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration, so could not get to Tobey’s press conference at the Park llyatt but talked with him on the phone. Happy to hear he’s happy-and busy.
There was a but bumping crowd at the Mexican Embassy, when the popular diplomatic couple, Mexican Ambassador Carlos de lcuza and his wife Luisa, hosted a reception to say adios to some of their many friends here. They’ve had a busy three years here, with the visit of their president, Vincente Fox Quesad, a super successful tour of the really excellent Ballet Folklorico Mexico, a party for Mexican actress Salma Hayek and a host of other cultural events, and a lot of hard work towards further promoting good relations bet ween Mexico and Japan. Luisa’s expecting and, as Carlos has been appointed Mexican Ambassador to the U.S., she’ll be close to home, or perhaps go home, for the birth of their first child. The de lcuzas have really been good friends and, like everyone who has had the privilege of knowing them, I’ll really miss them. Carlos’ new posting is a very important one, and we wish him and Luisa all the best in Washington, D.C.
It was a beautiful evening in every way on Monday, Feb. 2, at Tokyo’s luxurious QED Club. The occasion was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of TAJ Enterprise, the 25th wedding anniversary of TAJ Managing Director Atul Parekh and his wife Hema, and the 30th wedding anniversary of highly acclaimed jewelry designer Kazuo Ogawa and his wife Kimiko. Guests were an interesting mix of Japanese and foreign diplomats, business leaders and representatives from the fashion and showbiz worlds. The program included traditional Japanese dances by Kyoto Mieko and one of the best taiko drum shows I’ve ever seen. The fourman, three-woman group was terrific. This was followed by a gourmet buffet of Japanese and Western favorites. I enjoyed talking with Ichiro Miyake who, among other things, is Chairman, Representative Director of Van Cleef & Arpels K.K. Our sincerest congratulations to TAJ, Atttl, Hema, Kazuo and Kimiko, all dynamic and creative people. A full day of that stomach flu that was going around kept me from attending two “grand parties” on Feb. 23.
The first was a glittering reception at the Okura Hotel hosted by Brunei Ambassador Mohamed Nor Jeludin and his wife Jauyah. The occasion was the 20th anniversary of the National Day of Brunei Darussalam. Dewi Sukarno, who was there along with more than 500 other guests, told me it was a very special evening in every way, perfect for the occasion.
From the Brunei reception many of the guests moved over to the Saudi Arabian building where Saudi Charge d’ Affaires Mohammad Ameen Wali was hosting another sayonnra (he had several) to say goodbye to another group of friends. I just hope Mohammad likes the Philippines as much as I do. He’ll be Saudi Arabia’s new ambassador in Manila.
On the art scene, and over at the Vietnam Embassy, there was a special showing of the Katazome collection ‘”Ioba Mika Ten Years (1994-2003) Reminiscence of Vietnamese Scenery.” The exhibition was one of the events to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of Japan-Vietnam diplomatic relations and the ASEAN Japan exchange year. It came to Tok’)’O after big success in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Our congratulations.
Noriko Togo of Togo Fine Art hosted a reception on the opening of the exhibition “East Meets West – West Meets East” at her Minami-Azabu gallery.
On the fashion scene, the Asia-Pacific Ladies Friendship Society, as part of its spring cultural meeting, presented a fashion show of traditional costumes. Organized by Datin Nora Manuki, wife of the Malaysian Ambassador, the colorful production featured costumes from Bangladesh, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. I was in Cambodia on the day of the show, Feb. 25, but Nora’s promised me some photos.
Over in Sarugako-cho, right across from the Egyptian Embassy, noted designer Jun Ashida hosted a full day of receptions (three) and a “little bit of fun:’ The occasion was the opening of the completely renovated Jun Ashida flagship. It’s a beautiful venue of the best in fashion.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender