It was a star-studded evening at the Budokan for the premiere of the super box office hit, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.” It was nice to see soccer superstar Rui Ramos (he’s Brazilian) and his family. Ramos has a big following here in Japan and often appears in TV commercials. He’s a good man and doing very well.
It was also nice to meet baseball player Kazuhiro Sasaki. I see the Seattle Mariners relief pitcher in Roppongi on occasion when he parks his big beautiful blue Bentley at Seryna next to the Lex, but this was the first time 1 actually met him. He’s a big (and rich) guy.
“Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” has gone on to become one of the biggest-ever moneymakers in Japan, and it’s still playing. Actor Daniel Radcliffe came to Tokyo in mid-December, and there were more than 3,000 teenage groupies waiting for him at Narita Airport. Warner Brothers was able to do yet another first, and got him with two of Japan’s pop idols, Koichi Domoto and Hideki Takizawa, plus a few up-andcoming stars from Johnny’s Jimusho. Daniel, just 13 years old, is as nice a down-to-earth kid one could ever meet.
More on the movie world here in Japan as entertainment VIPs gathered at the Hotel Okura to congratulate Buena Vista Japan’s Dick Sano on his promotion to Senior Vice President, Buena Vista Headquarters, in California. He’ll remain as General Manager, Buena Vista Japan. I’ve worked with Dick on big promotions for “Armageddon” and “Pearl Harbor.” He’s Above: Buena Vista International Senior Vice President Dick Sano and his wife Itsumi with Nippon Herald CEO Hiromitsu Furukawa a good man, and I’m happy for the recognition and promotion he so much deserves.
It’s always nice seeing friends get the recognition they deserve. That happened in London recently when actor Alan Bates and director Ridley Scott were both knighted.
I first met Ridley when he was in Tokyo to promote his classic “Blade Runner,” and he and his wife dropped by the Lex recently while here to promote his film, “Black Hawk Down,” which Larry King called the “best war film ever made.”
Unfortunately, my first meeting with Alan Bates (“The Rose”) came under tragic circumstances. Alan’s twin boys Ben and Tristan were working as models for Gloria Askew. The twins, just 19 at the time, were tall, good looking and, except for their hair styles, identical. They were well brought up and sensitive.
“Crowded” and “colorful” are the words that best describe the pre-holiday annual Latin American Ladies Festival at the Tokyo Prince Hotel. I couldn’t stay long but did have time to check out all the wonderful handicrafts on sale from the Latin countries. They were selling very well, the food from the participating countries sold out fast, and there was a variety of good Latin entertainment. Princess Hitachi was the special guest. Bravo to all who worked so hard to make the event a super success.
There were brisk sales as well at the International School of the Sacred Heart where the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS) hosted its annual Holiday Bazaar. I bought a few things for the orphan’s party at the Hilton and relaxed over coffee with some old friends. These include Carole Yoshida, Maria Anderson and Angela Infante, the chairperson of this year’s event. I appreciate Carole introducing me to Takako Okoso, a chic and caring lady who’s married to the president of Nippon Ham and involved in charity projects in Vietnam and Cambodia. There are a lot of concerned people out tl1ere.
More things Latino-hospitality, smiles, food, music and dancing-aboard the Esmeralda, Chile’s fantastic naval cadet training ship. It was a beautiful night for the reception hosted by Capt. Enrique Larranaga and Chilean Ambassador Demetrio Infante. The reception took place on the main deck of the Esmeralda, docked at Harumi Pier. The Chilean ship was here to take part in a big Japanese naval celebration in Yokohama. The officers, cadets and crew did not have much time in Tokyo, but we had a welcome party one night and a sayonara party for them the next night at the Lex, and that was fun.
There was a huge Vietnamese event at the Palace Hotel when Ambassador Vu Dung hosted a glittering reception on the occasion of the National Day of Vietnam in honor of visiting Secretary General of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Nong DucManh. The wall-to-wall crowd included a large contingent of top Japanese politicians, diplomats, business leaders and other VIPs. It was a nice touch having a group of beautiful Vietnamese kids (some in national costume) at the entrance, welcoming guests to the reception. The secretary-general spent most of the evening moving through the crowd, meeting people and shaking hands. He had a great smile and was able to maintain this, even when a few Japanese did not want to let him go, once they got to him. My congratulations to the chefs that evening, as the Vietnamese food in the buffet was excellent. I’ve heard some great travel reports on Vietnam, and artist Fred Harris loves the place. It is one of the countries I plan to visit this year.
According to a new ad campaign by the popular Number 1 Travel agency, “Spring is coming” and “It’s time to wake up from hibernation.” It really is a good time to visit some of the great getaways in this part of the world. These include the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Saipan and Guam.
It’s hot enough in these places to enjoy the beach or pools and get a tan but still comfortable and pleasant. For something special, visit Thailand during their Song Kron (New Year) Festival in April and the Philippines for the many special events for Easter and Holy Week in April. Number 1 has some real bargains. Travel before Golden Week; it will save you money and a lot of hassle.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender