Paramount’s GI Joe Promotion
Korean Superstar Byung-Hun Lee was in Japan with top Korean Director John M. Chu to promote the SF/Martial Arts film G.I. Joe: Retaliation. At the press conference, they certainly made it easy to see why so many Japanese have become such big fans of Korea’s actors, singers, etc. Believe me they both had. as they say, their acts together.
Really enjoyed lunch at the Grand Hyatt with Ron and Maria Andersen, who were visiting here from NYC, and our mutual friends Shun and Haruko Tokura. Shun, an Internationally known composer, Is a member of the committee trying to get the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. Ile has a great background; his father was Japanese ambassador to three countries so he has lived in and learned about a lot of cultures has interesting friends all over the world. Shun’s tall, cool, Intelligent and really knows what he’s doing. His wife Haruko is also very international and spends much of her time working on worthwhile charity projects. They, like Ron and Maria, are a very special couple.
Latvia’s Prime Minister Visits Japan
It was wall to wall with mostly European ambassadors and Japanese government officials when Latvian Ambassador Petaris Vaivars hosted a reception to greet his visiting Prime Minister, Vaidis Dombrovskis. Happy to hear the PM’s visit was a big success. I was not so happy to hear that Petaris, after seven years in Japan, will be returning to Latvia. Ile’s an excellent diplomat and a truly good friend. A few weeks after the reception, he hosted a program of Latvian music. It was on a Sunday and due to other commitments I couldn’t go, a real shame as friends who were there told me they really enjoyed it. Petaris told me his son. who attended Temple University here, and who I got to know, just got a scholarship to a University in Seoul where he’ll study Korean. We wish him all the best there, and wish Petaris all the best back in Latvia.
Asian Pacific Charity Bazaar
As always it was great to see so many people at the annual Asia Pacific Festival and Charity Bazaar at the ANA Intercontinental Hotel. I got there a bit late, and couldn’t stay long, but did have the opportunity to talk with and get a photo of a lady I’ve long admired, HI /I Princess Hitachi. She’s always chic and has a wonderfully warm smile – as you can see by the photo – and spends much of her time supporting all kinds of worthwhile charity events. Thank you my friend. Several ambassadors there, including Philippines Ambassador Manuel Lopez and Malaysian Ambassador Datuk Shaharuddin. made sure I tried the delicious food from their countries. I also enjoyed meeting and chatting with Samoan Ambassador. Etbuati, and Fiji Ambassador. Mataitoga. It was a colorful, lively event with proceeds going to several worthwhile Asia Pacific Charities. Kudos to all concerned.
National Azabu’s 51st Birthday Celebrations
Our congratulations to Tohokushinsha film co.’s Honorary Chairman, Banjiro Uemura, his son Tetsu, the company President, and their staff on the 51st anniversary of their service to and success with the international community from all over the world. The store’s GM, Dale Toriumi, and his always helpful staff really go all out to get the best out of everything they do. Check the store out, you’ll be amazed at the marvelous variety they’ve made available for their customers.
Opening Ceremony New Kabukiza
Rain during the opening ceremony for the new Kabukiza in Ginza did not dampen the enthusiasm of the many VIPs invited or the large crowd gathered with their umbrellas that day. Several former Prime Ministers and their wives were in attendance, as were Watanabe Productions president, Misa Watanabe, Yoshiko Morita, the wife of late and great founder of Sony, Akio Morita, and a mix of Japanese showbiz personalities and diplomatic couples.
Thanks to Shochiku President Jay Sakamoto, my first balcony first row center seat gave me an awesome, panoramic view of the beautiful theater, its huge stage, great lighting, wonderful sets and fabulous costumes. The opening day program was perfect, with short speeches by Jay and a few other VIPs, individual performances by three of Kabuki’s most famous actors, traditional music and a finale where over 70 of the cultural asset’s cast and crew came on stage. You really should check Kabuki out while you’re here. English subtitles on huge LCD screens will enable you to follow the story.
The highlight for me the last few months was the Cirque du Soleil production Michael Jackson, The Immortal. Bragging a bit, but not exaggerating when I say thank you to long time friend, Cirque founder Guy Laliberte, for two tickets that had to be the best seats in Saitama Arena for the awesome shows’ opening night. The show was sort of a magical combination of a Broadway musical and a circus. The sets, the costumes, special effects, multi-talented international cast and, of course, Michael’s music added up to what I feel was one of the most exciting and entertaining shows I’ve ever seen. Believe me I’ve seen a lot of great shows all over the world (and I feel so lucky) but this one was really very special. The cast of dancers, singers, trapeze artists, acrobats, jugglers, etc were all outstanding.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga