I had the privilege of attending the opening reception for artist Toko Shinoda which was wall—to—wall international VIPs. Long time friends I hadn’t seen for a long time who were there included the ﬁlm world’s Kaz and Fran Kuzui and Gabriel from event planners Black List. People I met for the ﬁrst time, and really enjoyed talking to, included the famous doctor [at St. Luke’s Hospital) and author (of many medical and health books), Dr. Shigeaki Hinohara—he’s 104 and still very cool. Father Grimm of the Franciscan Chapel told me japan has 60,000 people who are over 100 years old. Other VIPs at the opening included Mika Mori of Mori Trust Hotels and Resorts and her daughter Miwako Date who is President of Conrad Hilton. I stayed in their beautiful Westin Hotel in Sendai a week aﬁer the terrible Tohoku earthquake and tsunami when I was helping Bill and Matthew Ireton distribute baseball uniforms and other supplies to several schools that really suffered during that natural disaster.
So lucky to meet so many great people through the column and plan on writing more about them this year. My sincerest thanks to Director/’Producer Karen Severns of Kismet Productions and her husband Koichi Mori for their help in helping me set up a screening of Tsukasa Shiga’s feature ﬁlm “Boku ha Bousan” (“I Am a Monk”) at the Foreign Correspondents‘ Club. The ﬁlm produced by Tsukasa Shiga was one of the many projects he did to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of his company, Ceremony. There are plans to show it with English subtitles.
TURKISH NATIONAL DAY RECEPTION — IMPERIAL
The popular diplomatic couple, Turkish Ambassador A. Bulent Meric, and his wife Kumiko chose the Imperial Hotel for their National Day Reception in October. The program included the playing of both the Turkish and Japanese anthems, an informative welcome speech by the Ambassador, a congratulatory speech by a Japanese government VIP, and a toast by another dignitary. Japan and Turkey have excellent relations and guests included high-ranking government officials, as well as a full house of business leaders and other VIPs from both countries. Turkish food is very special and the Imperial’s Food and Beverage Department worked with the embassy staff to prepare a lavish buffet of Turkish and Japanese favorites as well as many western specialties. It was a nice evening with many interesting people and good ﬁriends—perfect for the occasion.
SAUDI ARABIA RECEPTION — PALACE HOTEL
It was Saudi Ambassador Ahmed Yonos S. Al Barraks ﬁrst time to host a big National Day celebration. The occasion was his country’s 85th National Day and he chose the palatial, completely renovated Palace Hotel for the well attended, ﬁrst class midday reception. The ambassador, his staff, and many Saudi students there wore national costumes which really were perfect for the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s special day. Guests included former sumo champ and great philanthropist Konishiki and his wonderful wife Chie. In just a few years she learned to speak, sing and dance Hawaiian, and the busy couple often do musical shows together. If you ever have the opportunity to see them perform, don’t miss it. They’re really good‘ It was also nice seeing popular politician Yukilto Koike there that day. She attended university in Cairo, speaks ﬂuent Arabic, and is a real expert on Arab affairs.
TOLMAN’S SHINODA EXHIBITION AT CONRAD HILTON
As the pop song goes, “Oops I (actually he) did it again.” I’m talking about art expert/top dealer Norman Tolman. If you were able to see the exhibition by the world-famous artist Toko Shinoda at the Conrad Hilton, you know, I and many other art lovers know. Norman and the Tolman Collection’s staff always come up with special exhibitions and interesting ideas to promote their special collection of paintings and prints by many of ]apan’s best-known artists. Toko will turn 103 next year, and I’m happy to see she’s still painting. To celebrate, Norman was able to get 102 paintings and prints of her work over the years and that, plus her huge famous mural that permanently hangs in the lobby of the Conrad Hilton, added up to 103. I really enjoyed meeting Conrad Hilton GM Heinrich Grafe and his super staff. Congratulations to all concerned on the tremendous success of the exhibition.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga