Kudos to United Nations Goodwill Ambassador Angelina Jolie who visited victims of the Pakistan Oct. 8, earthquake on thanksgiving day. I was waiting outside the Lex for her and her then-husband Billy Bob came running out and said, “you have to see this.” It was the start of the horrendous Sep. 11 events. Needless to say, the Hollywood couple didn’t show.
Congratulations to Hideo Suzuki on his recent promotion to General Manager, Vice President of Buena Vista International Japan, and to his co-worker lchiro Okazaki, who is now Vice President of Sales. We’d also like to congratulate veteran film distributor, Dick Sano on his appointment as Senior Vice President, Film Distribution.
Papua New Guinean Ambassador Michael M. Maue and his wife, Merewlaesi Seru’s reception to celebrate Papua New Guinea’s Independence Day was a crowded and colorful evening that brought back a lot of great memories. It also gave me the opportunity to see a lot of friends I haven’t seen for quite some time. These included Air Niugini Regional Manager Kenzo Shimada, artist Masumi Yamada, who spends a great deal of time in Papua New Guinea painting the wonderful scenery and people there, and his author wife Marni. The buffet at the reception featured some excellent seafood – one of Papua New Guinea’s major exports to Japan. Air Niugini had flown in a group of drummers and dancers from Papua New Guinea who put on a colorful and lively show. It was a very special evening, perfect for the very special occasion.
Our Malaysian friends are always busy, but there was a week or so when they hosted some sort of special event almost every evening. First, there was a reception to meet Malaysian Minister of Tourism Datuk Leo Michael Toyad. A few nights later, there was a Malaysian spa night, and a few nights after that, a gala reception to celebrate Malaysia’s National Day.
All these events took place at the Hilton, where there was also a Malaysian festival. The highlight, other than great Malaysian food, was a fashion show by a group of Malaysian top models. The girls partied at the Lex, and they were not only beautiful, but lots of fun. I was talking with Nora Marzuki, wife of the Malaysian Ambassador, at the Maruyama’s Chinese New Year’s dinner. She and the Ambassador may return to Malaysia in May. Malaysia recognizes what a professional, capable, and popular couple they have representing them here, and has kept them posted in Japan since 1999. Nora told me they haven’t lived “back home” since 1991. The Marzukis are very special people who will do well in whatever they do, wherever they are.
I returned to Tokyo Dec. 28 and emceed the countdown party at the Lex. It was wall-to-wall people from all over the world having a good time and bringing in the New Year together. I had lots of paperwork and things to sort out over the Japanese New Year, and I’m pretty much back into my regular schedule now.
A big congratulations to the Tolman Collection and Shinsei Bank on the super success of an exhibition of paintings by one of Japan’s most important artists, Tako Shinoda, titled A Lifetime of Continuing Accomplishment. The exhibition featured 36 recent paintings as well as 24 lithographic works created after 1979. Thierry Porte, President and CEO of Shinsei Bank Ltd., wrote, “the bank’s branding concept ‘Color your life’ is to help our customers fulfill their dreams and make their lives more interesting and ‘colorful’.” Consequently, Shinse supports events celebrating artists and art. As my Australian friends would say, “Good on ’em,” Prior to opening the exhibition to the public, HM Empress Michiko visited the gallery. She’s one of Shinoda’s biggest fans. I really enjoyed meeting Joe Arden’s dynamic wife Mong-Lan (she’s Vietnamese) at Segafredo. Joe heads the University of Maryland’s programs in Asia. Mong-Lan’s first book of poetry Song of the Cicadas won the Juniper prize in the United States, and she’s just published her second book Why is the edge always windy?
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga