I appreciate Buena Vista’s man-in-Japan Dick Sano taking time out to introduce me to special guests Roy and Patty Disney. Roy is Walt Disney’s nephew, and they were in Tokyo for the premiere of the film and other events celebrating the centennial of the late and great creator. Buena Vista Japan not only had the closing film (“Atlantis, the Lost Empire”) in the Tokyo International Film Festival but also hosted the closing party, a celebrity-packed event with film stars, TV personalities, musicians, composers, fashion designers and even a few well-known pro wrestlers.
Congratulations to Former Tokyoites Greg Hughes and his beautiful Indonesian wife Reni on the Oct. 5 birth of their daughter Phoebe in Hong Kong. Greg is an executive with Cathay Pacific Airways.
Idol-maker and producer Johnny Kitagawa on his spectacular three-and-a-half-hour musical “Shock,” currently playing at the Imperial Theater. I’ll save my rundown on this until later but, for now, I’d like to say the City of New York, travel agencies and airlines should thank Johnny for his colorful, happy and very exciting presentation of the Big Apple. The show runs two months and, even at ¥12,000 per head, the tickets to the show (often two a day) at the 2,800-seat theater are completely sold out for every performance. Ninety-nine percent of the audience is teenagers and early 20s-aged girls, all potential travelers, and that could be big bucks for the travel biz and NYC.
As expected, there was a big turnout with more than 300 people from all walks of life at the memorial service at the Okura Hotel for Mike Mansfield. The down-to-earth Montana Democrat who spent 24 years in the U.S. Senate, 16 of them as majority leader, and 11 years as U.S. Ambassador to Japan, was highly respected and loved by all who knew him. The man whose career in public life spanned five decades died in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 5 at the age of 98. The service in Tokyo was organized by the America-Japan Society. There were opening remarks by Yoshio Okawara, President of the America-Japan Society, followed by eulogies by former Japan Prime Minister Yasuhiro Nakasone, Japan-U.S. Business Council President Minoru Makihara, fashion designer Jun Ashida and current U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker. The program closed with an expression of appreciation by Mike’s daughter Anne who had flown in from Washington for the very special occasion. All of the speakers mentioned Mike’s legendary early morning coffee mornings where he served each guest himself.
Swiss Ambassador Johannes J. Manz and his wife Antoinette, along with Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Japan President Philippe A.F. Nesser, invited dignitaries and members of the Swiss community to a reception at the Manz’s home. The occasion was to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the SWCCIJ. The people, the buffet and the ambiance added up to a very enjoyable evening.
It was also a relaxed and enjoyable evening at the home of Burkina Faso Ambassador W. Raymond Edouard Ouedraogo and his wife Marie. These good friends were hosting a sayonara dinner for two more good friends, Madagascar Ambassador Cyrille Fida and his wife Raharifina. The Fidas have been in Japan for years, and I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know them well. Their lovely daughter Hana, a really close friend, was just graduated from a university in Paris. Her goal is to become an ambassador like her father and, with her intelligence and drive, I’m sure it will happen. The Fidas have returned to Madagascar, and Cyrille is now Director General of Foreign Affairs. We wish them all the best back home.
It was wall-to-wall people at the home of Hungarian Ambassador Istvan Szerdaheiyi and his wife Reiko at their reception to celebrate the National Day of Hungary. I was running that evening but am glad I dropped by to congratulate the popular couple. It was also nice seeing longtime friends Yoshitomo and Kaoru Tanaka I first got to know them through Chichan Plessner. Yoshitomo’s important postings for the Gaimusho (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) have included several years in beautiful Budapest as Japan’s Ambassador to Hungary. “We love that city,” Kaoru told me.
Tight security at the Tokyo American Club made it necessary for the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS) to change venues and hold this year’s Christmas Bazaar at the Akasaka Prince Hotel. It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy to report the fair was a big success. I was sure, with Maria Teresa Avila, wife of the Ecuadorean Ambassador, at the helm as chairperson, it would be.
Don Quixote (DQ) is, as I’ve mentioned, on Roppongi’s main drag across from the Roi Building. They’re open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m., so plan on a few hours of fun browsing. There are modern and clean rest rooms on the fourth floor. Take your passport for possible tax exemptions on major purchases.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender