Superstar George Clooney, whom we featured on our June cover, was in town to promote the ﬁlm “Tomorrowland” for Disney. I ﬁrst met this great actor and a nice guy at the big “Batman Returns” ﬁlm premiere and party in Hollywood. Got to know him better when he was here to promote “The Perfect Storm” for Warner Bros. I remember riding around Osaka with him and a couple of guys from his entourage. We were in a small van and I was sitting by him. By this time, I was used to his sense of humor, but I was still really surprised when he started to sing “Tomorrow” from the Broadway show “Annie.” When he got to “Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” I belted out “It’s only a day away,” and we ended up singing the whole song together!
Going through old pictures for “my book” and I found a photo of a man and me. Unfortuantely, I couldn’t recognize him so I asked a friend who told me he was the late great French artist César Baldaccini, who’s second only to Picasso. Thanks to the multi-talented Raymond Johnson, I got to meet and have breakfast with the Three—Time Nobel Peace Prize nominee Yank Barry at the big and really well-decorated VIP lounge in the ANA Hotel. Yank’s really a miracle man and I will have more about him in the near future.
THE AHMADS’ 31 ST NATIONAL DAY RECEPTION
I spent a fantastic night with Brunei Darussalam Ambassador, Mrs. Mahamud Ahmad, and their many guests at the New Otani. The occasion was to celebrate their country’s 31st National Day. The variety of people there, the excellent buffet, and the ambiance added up to an unforgettable event. Over the years, I’ve had to decline three invitations to visit Brunei. I’m really sorry about that, as friends who have vacationed there tell me it’s a beautiful getaway.
SAKURA VIEWING DAYS—INDIAN EMBASSY
Mother Nature was kind here in ]apan this year and we had nice weather for cherry blossom viewing. Thanks to Indian Ambassador Deepa Wadhwa, I had the privilege of viewing some of the most beautiful blossoms in japan. The embassy near Yasukuni Shrine in front of the Yazawa River was open three days for guests to view the cherry blossoms from their roof. It was magniﬁcent. Every day was a wonderful party with Indian food, a bazaar, and the Ambassador and her staff’s warm hospitality. Amb. Deepa Wadhwa, whose husband is India’s Ambassador to Thailand, has been super busy since her posting here. She told me they are having a full schedule of cultural events currently coming up, and these are always well worth checking out.
BEAUTIFUL INT’L GARDENS AT OKURA
Happy I got up early and over to HIH Princess Takamado’s ribbon cutting for the truly spectacular 15th Annual World Gardening Fair at Hotel Okura. Participants this year included the U.S.’s Margot Carrington (Ambassador Kennedy was in the U.S. for Prime Minister Abe’s visit there.), Irish Ambassador Anne Barrington, Ambassadors’ wives Marianne Ashcroft (U.K., Northern Ireland) Iwona Kozaczewska (Poland), Karme Lizbaut (Belgium), Rita Mannella Giorgi (Italy), Iveta Kottmanova (Slovak Republic). Kumiko Meric (Turkey). Michele Roback (Sweden), and Iida Xavier Esteves (Portugal). Each of the gardens was beautiful, original, and memorable for the creativity of the participants working with the Japanese style, and each one providing a reﬂection of the countries they represented. Kudos to all concerned. This was the last of the gardening events at the Okura for a while. They’ve already started tearing down the main building, for as is always happening in Tokyo, they’re building a new one. The south wing, which is very nice, will remain open. Part of the proceeds this year went to the charity organization Tomodachi.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga