Dropped by ABC Kaikan to say hello and “break a leg” to long-time friend, actor-producer Sho Kosugi. Sho had brought his musical production, “The Ninjas from Hollywood,” for a Japan tour. He was co-starring with his son, Shane.
Sho gained fame as the ninja in American action films several years back. I had the opportunity to work with him on the film, “Kabuto”, on location in Yugoslavia. He was the producer and co-starred with his other son, Kane, now a pop idol here. Sho’s an actor, an author, businessman and a really nice guy.
Former sumo star, now top entertainer Konishiki celebrated his birthday Jan. 1st. The man is very busy this week (Jan. 23-30) with 33 preteens from seven schools in and around his old neighborhood in Hawaii. He, with the support of United Airlines, brought them for a visit to Japan, as he had done several times previously. It’s become a tradition for “Konishiki’s Kids.”
Congratulations to Warner Brothers Japan Managing Director Bill Ireton on his becoming a member of the Board of Governors, American Chamber of Commerce in Japan.
“It will be the best ball in Tokyo,” I was told by Dewi Sukarno, Japanese widow of the late Indonesian President Sukarno, when she asked me to invite a group of “interesting foreign friends” to her Imperial Byzantine Charity Ball and Gala Banquet 2001. As Ron and Maria Anderson said later, it turned out to be an unusual, different and enjoyable evening. It was pouring rain that evening, and I didn’t think I was ever going to find the venue, Tokyo Meguro Gajoen. I almost gave up but am glad I did not. My guests along with several Japanese “dukes, duchesses, counts and Countesses,” many who were honored, knighted or promoted earlier that day, were invited to the VIP room to meet the special guests of honor, Prince and Princess Henri Constantine Paleologo. The prince has as many orders as he was wearing decorations and medals. The princess looked royal with a “diamond” tiara, expensive-looking earrings and necklace and a gold dress with a long train. They could have walked out of a Russian or Austrian film epic. Both were very knowledgeable and, when I started to introduce Muna Al-Ansari, wife of the Qatar Ambassador, the prince told her, “Oh, we have a villa near your Emir’s villa in southern France.” Guests moved to the ballroom, and the prince and princess were led in by a Scottish bagpipe group. That’s show business.
Kudos to the chef and kitchen staff at Meguro Gajoen. The dinner had to be one of the best I’ve ever had at this kind of event. Entertainment included a Noh drum solo by Shonosuke Okura, an opera and jazz selections by vocalist Svetiana Portnyansky who flew in from the States to perform that evening. There was also some fantastic ballroom dancing by Dewi and Takeshi Nakanishi. She had left between the main courses and came back looking gorgeous in a super-chic “dancing” dress and feathers in her hair. This was followed by guests dancing to the music of Toshio Sagawa and Tokyo New Sky. The program closed with an auction and “Happy Raffle.” Proceeds from the ball went to the victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in America, the Japanese Red Cross Society and Association For Aid and Relief, Japan.
Frederic Walther, chef at the Danish Embassy for Ambassador Peter Bruckner and his wife Anna, prepared the buffet for the evening, and it really was very special. Unfortunately, it was raining, so we could not check out Sol’s classic car collection, but I am happy to report the conference was a big success and hope I can get to the third one in Nagano later this year.
Outgoing Thai Ambassador Sakthip Krairiksh and his wife Benchapa made countless friends for Thailand and themselves during their all-too-short two-and-ahalf-year stay in Japan. It was, as expected, a full house and garden at their farewell reception. The mood and the food were great, and the only downer was knowing these two exceptional people and good friends would be leaving. Yet, one has to be happy for them. Sakthip is now Thailand’s Ambassador to the U.S., and I’m sure the Krairikshes will be every bit as popular in Washington as they were in Tokyo.
I mentioned earlier about traveling, and a recent No. 1 Travel ad is proof positive now is a great time to go somewhere. Here are a few of the fares they’re offering, all round trip: Las Vegas, 37,000; New York City, ¥35,000; Mexico City, ¥63,000; Manila, ¥38,000; London, ¥62,000; Bangkok, ¥38,000, plus lots more to just about any place. Let’s go!!!
As I previously mentioned, I’ve spent the last eight New Year’s Eves in Tunisian villages bordering on, or actually out in, the Sahara Desert. I decided to try something different this year, so came back from Hawaii in time to emcee the countdown party at the Lex. I went over to the club early to meet Hanae Mori’s two terrific grandsons, Ken and Ben, who attend universities in the U.S. and were here for the holidays.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender