Just got a postcard from friends and former Tokyoites Ron and Maria Anderson, who were traveling in Asia. After 10 years in Tokyo, where Ron headed AIU, they moved to New York. Maria was and still is involved in so many worthwhile charity projects and was president of the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS) here. During their trip to Asia they attended a big reception in Seoul, hosted by the booming city’s new mayor, Park Won Soon and his wife. The Andersons were and still are one of Tokyo’s most popular foreign couples and, from what I hear, are just as busy and popular in the Big Apple.
Needless to say the many friends of British ambassador Sir David Warren and his wife, Lady Pamela Warren, are really going to miss the couple. The Warrens recently returned to England after four years and a few months in Japan. David is retiring from diplomatic service but will, as always, keep busy. I am sure he’ll maintain his and Pam’s close relationship with Japan through his new position as chairman of the Japan Society in London. Pam will be there to help whenever he needs and will also be involved in some very other worthwhile projects as well. Prior to their departure the couple hosted a beautiful sayonara party in their garden. It was great to see Tadateru Konoe, president of the Japan Red Cross and his wife Yasuko. She’s the daughter of Prince and Princess Mikasa and I was really happy to hear her father is making a speedy recovery after some health problems. The prince studied archeology and, as I majored in anthropology, we used to have some very interesting discussions.
Africa Day Celebration at the Angolan Embassy
There are 37 African countries represented in Japan and the recent African Day celebration at the Angolan embassy was as crowded, as colorful and as enjoyable as its many guests expected it would be. After the many hosts and hostesses received us, we checked out the many interesting exhibits that had been set up on both sides of the long entrance hall. A group of very colorful and energetic drummers and dancers did their thing in the main area and they were really fantastic. For me, the superb buffet, with a huge variety of homemade favorites from the many participating countries was the highlight of the night.
The Chins’ Singapore National Day Reception at the Imperial Hotel
Singapore’s ambassador Siat Yoon Chin and his wife Lee Moi Wang had only been posted in Japan a short time before they hosted their big event of the year, Singapore’s National Day reception at the Imperial Hotel. The couple came to Japan after a 14-year posting in China and as the ambassador’s wife, who’s very outgoing, said it really is different here in a very positive way. Guests there that evening included top Japanese government officials, diplomats, business leaders and familiar faces from the arts and entertainment world. Several years ago, Singapore’s embassy convinced the Imperial Hotel to let them bring in food from several of the top Singapore restaurants here, and that was a big success. I’m happy to see they’re still doing the same. The chicken and satay restaurants were very special as was the Japanese, western and Chinese food prepared by the the Imperial’s food and beverage staff.
Malaysian National Day at the New Otani
Datuk Md. Som Shaharuddin, the Malaysian ambassador, and his wife Datin Norasikin were super chic in Malaysian national dress as they greeted the many guests at their big event at the New Otani Hotel. Datuk and Datin, by the way, are Malaysian titles of honour. Many of the ladies there also wore Malaysian fashion that evening and the reception venue was a kaleidoscope of colour. Dewi Sukarno, who always looks good, was with me that night and I’m always surprised how much attention that extraordinary lady attracts. So many people want their photo with her, or just want to shake her hand, and she pretty much always obliges. She’s a smart lady and has an amazing ability to recognize the party crashers and phonies.
New Zealand PM here on Tourism Promotion
Looking back I had to and really regretted turning down two invitations to visit New Zealand, a real shame. I always like people I’ve met from there and hear the country, especially its nature, is magnificent. John Key, the New Zealand prime minister, who’s actually also minister of tourism, was in Japan recently with a VIP delegation to promote his beautiful country. At a special industry function at the embassy, he and his associates unveiled their new campaign, “100% Middle Earth, 100% Pure New Zealand”. The campaign is tied up with Warner Bros.’ December l4th worldwide release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It’s the first in a Hobbit trilogy and everyone feels it will increase the number of tourists visiting New Zealand just like the Lord of the Rings trilogy did. Air New Zealand will increase the number of flights from Narita to Auckland soon and they are planning all kinds of exclusive competitions and unique fan opportunities, all geared towards raising New Zealand’s profile.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga