February’s over and like just about everyone else and I know, I’m wondering where the days went. February’s been cold, but we sure can’t complain. It has been a busy winter and people who keep up with the happenings realize how important Tokyo has become internationally for business, sports, fashion, entertainment and just about everything else.
Travelers to our town the last few weeks have included Christian Dior President Jacques Rouet, C.D. Vice President Robert Maze-Sencier; Estee Lauder President and Mrs. Leonard A. Lauder; a delegation from the Hilton Hotels in Hawaii that included Don L. Madsen, senior vice president of Hilton Hotels Corporation, Hawaii Region; J. Bellanger, chairman of Union for Overseas French Chambers of Commerce and Industry; Mr. Herson, general manager of the same organization; the super rock group Queen, here for the premiere of “Flash Gordon” and to do a series of concerts, and rock star Gary Neuman, here on a special promotion.
Afternoon Reception with Turkish Ambassador
Moving to Wednesday the 4th, we had the privilege of being included in a very prestigious group that gathered for an afternoon reception hosted by Turkish Ambassador Nazif Cuhruk at his Embassy. The occasion was to celebrate the publication of a set of books by Dentsu on Turkey’s Topkapi Museum. The five volumes are the result of many years of research by Turkish scholars, Japanese academicians including Professor Mori of Tokyo University and noted photographer Banri Namikawa.
The embassy was wall-to-wall people that day including many of Japan’s best-known politicians, artists, architects, authors and scholars. An exhibition had been set up in one room and after seeing this, guests moved into the main reception room. There were short speeches by HIH Prince Mikasa, a noted authority on art; the ambassador; Professor Kiyoshi Seike who teaches architecture at Tokyo University and has a TV program, and Yoshio Sakurauchi, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic party. He’s from the same prefecture (Shimane) as photographer Namikawa. Members of the diplomatic corps who were there included Jordanian Ambassador Zahayr Mufti, Lebanese Ambassador Joseph Naffah and Algerian Ambassador Mourad Bencheikh.
Color was added to the affair by girls dressed in Turkish costumes who moved through the crowd serving Turkish sweets. It was an interesting afternoon, one I appreciated being a part of. The books, by the way, will be published in English the end of this year.
33rd Anniversary of Sri Lanka’s Independence
That same day the Sri Lankan community in Japan was celebrating the 33rd anniversary of the independence of Sri Lanka. Unfortunately, my invitation to join them at the Embassy that day arrived late. I was sorry to miss it, but would like to congratulate Ambassador Susanta de Alwis and my Sri Lankan friends on that special occasion.
That evening French Ambassador and Mme. de la Chevalerie and French Military Attaché and Mme. P. Gayno hosted a dinner-ball on the occasion of the visit to Japan of the two French training ships, Jeanne d’Arc and Forbin. The ships were docked in Kobe, but the officers came to Tokyo for the special evening, stayed with members of the French community that night and had a chance to do some sightseeing and shopping in and around Tokyo the next day.
The French Embassy is spacious and the de la Chevaleries had opened almost all the rooms but with somewhere “between 500 and 700 people” mixing, eating, dancing and having a ball, it did get crowded at times. It was a beautiful crowd, though. Guests included diplomats and their wives, members of the French community, and well-known Japanese from the business, arts, entertainment and literary world. The ship’s officers were all in full uniform, the other men wore tuxedos and the women turned out in a fabulous array of high fashion. The dinner, catered by Andre Lecomtc, was superb, and just about everyone went back for seconds.
Ambassador de la Chevalerie and Marie Francoise were the perfect host and hostess and seemed to be moving around the entire evening making sure all the guests enjoyed—which they did. It was an evening to remember . . . one that went right on into the next morning. We had to leave earlier than we would have liked, but did join Bob and Terangi Legeay and several of the ship’s officers at the Giza in Roppongi later.
Reception at Italian Embassy
It was more beautiful people Thursday the 5th at the Italian Embassy where Ambassador and Mrs. Boris Blanched were having a reception to meet the designers, manufacturers and models here for the Italian fashion show ’81 pret-a-porter collection. The group was in Japan about two weeks and did shows in several major cities here. I was happy to have the chance to see Sandro Massamini again. Sandro is one of the top show producers in Italy and has been in Japan several times with his productions. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get to the show itself, but heard from those who did make it, it was a well-packaged production that showed again why Italians re-main on top as far as fashion originality goes.
Evening Reception with Amsel & Amsel
On Monday the 9th, with the support of the Canadian Embassy, Montreal-based furrier Amsel & Amsel and Toronto-based furrier Kuretzky held an early evening reception at the Okura for the press and trade. Jerry Jacob, one of the partners in Amsel & Amsel, and his wife Ingrid who designs for the company greeted guests as they entered. There was a superb buffet and during the course of the evening, after a short introductory speech by Jim Taylor, (Economic and Commercial Minister at the Canadian Embassy), a showing of Amsel & Amsel’s latest fur fashions. From the reaction of the guests, many of whom were retailers and really know their furs, Canada has a very bright future in the fur market here.
Reception at the US Embassy
Thursday the 12th really kept us hustling. The evening’s social schedule started at 6 with a reception U.S. Ambassador and Mrs. Mike Mansfield were having at their residence in honor of Mr. and Mrs. Leonard A. Lauder, visiting here from New York. He’s President of Estee Lauder Inc., and his wife Evelyn is Corporate Vice President. The Mansfields, the Lauders and Fred and Regine Langhammer greeted guests as they entered. Fred, as you know, heads Estee Lauder’s operation in Japan.
It was a crowded reception and guests were an interesting mix of the diplomatic, business and fashion worlds. Familiar faces included Chiye Hachisuka (congratulations on the JAWS Bingo). Dolly Baker (very busy the last few months), Pat Salmon (looking great after a few months in Hawaii) and Anne Nitze (visiting from New York). On the way out, I stopped to say goodnight to Maureen, and she introduced me to two other very special guests Minnesota Senator and Mrs. David F. Durenberger. Bob and Jeritza McCarter were just coming in, so I was able to get them all together for a photo. Bob, by the way, will be appearing in an NHK TV series called “Taro’s Graduation.” It starts Apr. 6, 9:40 p.m., in Japanese.
Estee Lauder Reception for Leonard Lauders
After the concert, drove back to the Okura where Estee Lauder was having a reception for the Leonard Lauders. It was certainly to a different beat. The mood was the ultimate in elegance, the buffet superb and music by a classical violin quartet perfect for the occasion. Things broke up a little after 9 as the Langhammers were traveling with the Landers to Kansai early the next morning.
Queen Concert and Misa Watanabe
Raced over to Budokan where I joined Misa Watanabe, Gerard Coste and Rudy Alvarez for Queen’s dynamic . . . and I do mean dynamic . . . concert. In addition to all the sound — including “Another One Bites the Dust,” “Night at the Opera,” “Flash Gordon,” etc. they’re internationally known for — the staging was something else. They utilize large blocks of landing-strip lights. Japan has very strict rules about hanging lights because of earthquakes, so instead of hanging them on pulleys as they normally do, they were mounted on crane-like arms which, in turn, were mounted on scaffolds. With the blocks of lights being raised and lowered, the colors changing and the smoke machines going full blast, it was a mindblowing experience. It’s got to be one of the best shows of its kind on the road today.
Being with Misa — who has had a long association with Queen, brought them over and really knows and enjoys music — made it all even more enjoyable for Ruby, Gerard and I.
Japan Academy Awards 1981
Our next stop was the Tokyo Prince Hotel where there was a dinner presentation of the Japan Academy Awards. Unfortunately, by the time I got there, the ceremonies were over, the stars had left and workmen were already dismantling the elaborate stage and props that had been set up for the event. I did see some of the people who had attended milling around in the hotel lobby, and, as in the past, most of them were more dressed for a picnic or a hike in the mountains rather than an award-presentation dinner. Tickets for the evening were ¥25,000; you’d think if people paid that much for an evening out, and were asked to dress appropriately (which they were), they would. It sure takes away from the mood and the glamor of the occasion.
Papua New Guinean Reception
Mondays the 16th Papua New Guinean Ambassador J.F. Nombri held a reception at the New Otani “to meet diplomats, Japanese government officials and businessmen.” It was a relaxed affair with the nearly 300 guests mixing, conversing and enjoying the buffet. One guest I was especially happy to meet was Japanese artist Masami Yamada. He’s traveled a great deal and has painted everything from dancers at Papua New Guinea’s Mt. Hagen sing-sing to snow scenes in Japan. He lives in a rustic type home in the mountains outside of Tokyo and told me he had driven a snow mobile to the station to take the train into Tokyo for the party that night. His work reminds me very much of the same style some of the Hopi and Navajo Indian artists in Arizona and New Mexico use and I’ve always liked that kind of art.