Nicky and Paris Hilton were in town for Kazumasa Terada, president of Samantha Thavasa Bag Company. I had met Paris before, but never really got to know her. On her most recent visit, I hosted a party for her and her sister Nicky at the New Lex. I was indebted to her because she praised the Lex in her book Confessions of an Heiress, although I didn’t like a lot of what I read about her in the gossip magazines. At the party, both girls were great. They do know how to party, and they were really nice to everyone there. In talking with Paris, I realized how much of her image is a creation of marketing. In real life she’s intelligent, interesting and thoughtful. Her favorite word is “hot” and she loves to use it: “the club’s hot”; “that male model’s hot”; “you’re hot” (I loved that one!) Nicky, however, is quieter and very involved in the hotel project—not a Hilton, but a very expensive art deco hotel in Miami Beach. Guests included superstar Yoshiki, Samantha Thavasa President Kazumasa Terada, actors Yamamoto and Masaya Kato as well as Rakuten baseball team owner Mikitani San.
Superstar Will Smith was in town to promote his Warner Brothers film I Am Legend. In addition to having back-to-back interviews, a press conference, TV, appearances and the premiere itself, Will made a quick trip to Yokosuko to meet American military members and their families. I first met him over ten years ago, and am happy to report that success has not spoiled the talented, hardworking superstar.
Another superstar Nicolas Cage and super producer Jerry Bruckheimer were here for Walt Disney Studios Japan to promote National Treasure: A Book of secrets As you can imagine, they had a very busy schedule as well.
I’d like to offer my congratulations to Glenn L Boothe, whose son Robert recently signed on to play with the L.A. Dodgers. I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about him in the future. (I’ll have a photo in the next column.) Congratulations as well to Simone Ugolini, who has spent three years in Japan as General Manager of Valentino Japan Ltd. Simone’s now in Milan for a new and challenging assignment at Valentino Global Headquarters. We’ll miss him here in Tokyo and wish him all the best back home.
Congratulations to Dr. Hans J.A. van Ginkel, professor and former rector of the United Nations University who received the Grand Cordon of the order of the Rising Sun on Nov. 20.
There were lots of National Day celebrations in December, including those of the United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Bahrain and Qatar. Big holiday happenings included U.S. Ambassador Thomas and Susanne Schieffer’s annual Christmas party, Pirelli Tires and Christian Dior holiday events and The Peninsula Hotel’s official opening party.
German Ambassador Hans-Joachim Daerr and his wife Alexa threw a truly monumental happening to celebrate the 18th anniversary of German reunification. Guests entered through the chancery and proceeded up the hill to the beautiful home and garden. Interesting, informative exhibitions of German products ranging from cars and sporting goods to food was set up everywhere. The garden—with its teahouse, temple, stone lanterns and huge bell—was tastefully illuminated, and there were tents and booths set up to serve delicious German culinary favorites.
I loved the German breads, and the variety that evening was endless. Special guests that evening included Minister of the Free State of Saxony Georg Milbradt and his wife Angelika as well as three-time Olympic Champion in Ski Jumping Jens Weissflog. The program included singing of the Japanese and German national anthems, as well as German folksongs buy the Heinrich Schutz Choir and a mandolin concert by Anne Wolfe. Food that evening included many delicacies prepared by Michelin Star Chef Mario Paths and the Dresden Christmas Stollen Association. I saw many of the students I know from the German School helping that evening. ‘This is supposed to be a holiday and we’re working,” one of them jokingly told me. It didn’t seem to be a problem, though, as it was obvious that he and the other students were enjoying the spectacular evening as much as the many guests there.
It was really nice to see them again at The New Otani Hotel on Sept. 18, to celebrate both the 16th anniversary of Ukrainian independence and 15th anniversary of diplomatic relations with Japan. It was a laid-back evening of interesting people, delicious Ukrainian food and warm ambience.
On Sep. 4 Malaysian Ambassador Dato and his wife Datin Jazlisa hosted an exciting, colorful gala evening at The New Otani. The celebration was two-fold—to celebrate Malaysia’s 50th anniversary of independence, as well as their 50 years of diplomatic relations with Japan. 2007 was “Visit Malaysia Year” and, in addition to the country’s al-ways-full schedule of festivals, sporting and cultural events, there were many special 50th anniversary happenings. For the party, the Malaysian Tourism Board and Malaysian Airlines flew in a group of traditional dancers from Sabah. There were also several Malaysian chefs who prepared Malaysian cuisine including squid curry, rending (spicy beef) and Malaysian desserts for the buffet. At the end of the evening, the staff of the Embassy surprised Mohd and Tazliza with a huge birthday cake.
Once again Min-on brought the truly amazing China National Acrobatic Troupe back to Japan. With nearly two hours of unbelievable acrobatics, juggling and contortions, these really nice, very talented people gave the audience a preview of some of the spectacular things we’ll see in Beijing during the 2008 Olympics. The audience wildly applauded after every act.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga