Highlights for me included setting up a birthday party for Paris Hilton at the New Lex and another party a week later at the club for UK singer Sarah Brightman, holder of 160 gold and platinum records, and her cast and crew of 40. Guests at Paris’s blast included gold medal swimmer Kosuke Kitajima, Australian director Baz Luhrmann, who was in Japan to promote his film Australia for 20th Century Fox, Japanese pop stars The Tubes and Jin Akanishi of Kat-Tun as well as mixed martial arts champ Kid Yamamoto, actor Junichi Ishida, and the producers of the second ‘I Survived a Japanese Game Show’ reality show that was a big hit in the US; I got to know these guys at the Hilton.
It was a nice evening at the Hotel Okura when the Croatian ambassador and National Tourist Office of Croatia co-hosted a reception to celebrate the first anniversary of the tourist office in Japan. It was unfortunate but Ambassador Drago Stambuk, who was back home on official business, couldn’t return for the reception. He was certainly missed. The Croatian food was excellent, the live music entertaining, and the guests who were, for the most part, travel agents, interesting. Croatia has recently become a favorite destination for Japanese tourists. I once spent ten days there working on PR for a Japanese film being shot on location. Talk about beautiful scenery.
Maruyama Chinese dinner at Hilton Tokyo
Just about everyone I know loves Chinese food, and believe me, the 40 or so guests at Mitsuo, Lilo, and their son Helge’s annual Chinese dinner party enjoyed course after course of the very best. The venue, for the third year in a row, was Hilton Tokyo’s popular Dynasty Chinese restaurant. The chefs made sure we had a huge variety of the classic favorites and the staff, as always, provided the ultimate in service. It was a wonderful, laid-back evening with a lot of interesting people, the Maruyamas’ legendary hospitality, and the warm ambiance of that very special evening. It was a very special evening as well over at the New Otani when newly arrived Bruneian Ambassador Alias Serbini hosted a glittering reception on the occasion of his country’s national day. I first met Alias when he was here as an embassy staff member several years ago. It’s nice to have him back. It was wall-to-wall people at the reception with everyone enjoying the festive mood and the food…especially the Bruneian specialities. The only downer was hearing that good friends Maidin Mahadi and his wife Mahani would be leaving soon. After a little over three years here as minister counsellor, he is returning to Brunei for his new government assignment. We wish them all the best.
It was ritzy as well when entertainment tycoon and leader Tom Yoda let me set up a special private screening of the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire for Indian Ambassador Hemant Krishan Singh, his super wife Mrinalini, and several of their top staff. The luxurious venue was the screening room of Tom’s company on the 32nd floor of Tokyo Midtown. Many thanks Tom. It was great. I also want to thank the Singhs, who made it possible for Weekender Editor Ulara Nakagawa and myself to have lunch with and interview Vikas Swarup, who wrote the novel Slumdog Millionaire. The book was originally published with the title Q &A and is now a major motion picture. Vikas was in Japan as a guest of Random house/Kodansha, which has published his work in Japanese.
Hilton Tokyo has long been the leader here in hotels sponsoring great international food festivals. The Chile gourmet and cultural promotion jointly sponsored by the embassy of the Republic of Chile and PROCHILE was special in every way. The huge variety of culinary delights created by one of Chile’s top chefs, Matias Paiomo, the tremendous selection of Chile’s top wines, and the colorful Chilean entertainment all added up to a memorable experience…one that further convinced me I’ll have ‘ to visit that beautiful country one of these days soon.
Ikebana International Fair
As always, it was wall-to-wall people at the Ikebana Entertainment Fair, which is a very popular annual charity event held at the Tokyo Prince Hotel. I arrived in time for special guest HIH Princess Takamado’s tour of the beautiful exhibition of flower arrangements and the international booths. After this, the Princess joined several of Ikebana International’s officers for the ribbon cutting and opening ceremony. This featured speeches by Tokyo Founding Chapter President Fumiko Misawa and the fair chairperson Dr. Salwa Almahroos. The princess enjoyed the special entertainment that day and helped with the drawing of the airline ticket winner. I was happy to hear the beautiful day with interesting people was all for a good cause (actually several) and that it was a big success—kudos to all concerned.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga