Adolf Ogi, special adviser on Sport for Development and Peace to the United Nations Secretary General, and former president of the Swiss Federation, was in Japan and Korea for some of the 2002 FIFA World Cup games. During his visit, the Swiss Defense Attache, Col. G.S. HansRudolf Meier, hosted a Sunday a.m. get-together for the visiting dignitary.
Over at the Russian Embassy, Ambassador Alexander N. Panov held an exhibition of photos he’s taken in his travels around Japan.
It was also nice seeing Emory Trosper again. Emory, a retired UMUC senior administrator, is a real philanthropist. He adopted and raised a Korean orphan and donated a great deal of good Japanese art to UMUC.
It’s been hog heaven for dance overs here the last few months with top dancers from all over the world performing in and around ol’ Edo. Soka Gakkai’s Min-On Concert Association, a real leader in international culture exchange, has been even busier than usual the last few months. Highlights of their program have included the Beijing Opera, have included the Beijing Opera, the Royal Dance Troupe of Cambodia, a contemporary “Broadway show-style” Korean musical, “Gambler,” fiery guitarists and dancers from Spain in a show titled “Viva Flamenco 2002.” They have a very interesting show from Tibet due in soon.
Lots of exciting dances at Hilton Tokyo as well, all a part of their international cuisine and culture festivals. These include two talented ladies here for the “Breeze From Tunisia” festival, the highly respected dance theater from Bangladore here for the “Romance of India” festival and a group of Chammoro friends here to dance and promote their great getaway island of Guam.
Saudi Prince Nawaf bin Faisal-bin Fahd bin Abdul Aziz stayed approximately seven minutes at a huge reception he hosted at the New Otani. Most of the guests did not even have the opportunity to see the host but stayed on for a superb buffet and an exciting performance by a Saudi group of musicians and dancers in Japan for the soccer World Cup 2002.
At the Bunkamura backstage party, along with British Ambassador Stephen J. Gommersall, I enjoyed meeting the choreographer, Matthew Bourne, and the cast of the show. Matthew’s Tony-winning allmale “Swan Lake” will play here this fall, and it’s sure to be a sellout.
Kudos to Tunisian Ambassador Salah Hannachl, his wife Lynn and the many others who worked so hard to make the “Breeze of Tunisia” cuisine and culture festival at Hilton Tokyo a big success. The bountiful buffet of Tunisian food was prepared under the supervision of one French and two Tunisian chefs flown to Tokyo by Alitalia from Tunis (the Tunis Hilton) for the special event.
In addition to the food and entertainment, there was an exhibition of Tunisian handicrafts, a tent where one could get mint tea, an exhibition of Tunisianinspired jewelry by noted designer Kazuo Ogawa and even an exhibition of photos I had taken in Tunisia. (Thanks, Salah.) I was out of japan for the Tunisian gala dinner, but both Prince and Princess Takamado were there. They have also visited Tunisia, and they told me, “It was a very special evening in every way.”
The ILBA grand prize charity concert, sponsored in Japan by the foundation’s chairperson Dewi Sukarno, was an evening of enjoyable music (mostly classical) by artists from all over the world. The highlight of the excellent program at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall was a dynamic presentation of one Russian and one Jewish folk song by Svetlana Portnyansky. I first heard this talented Russian when she sang at Dewi’s Charity Ball last fall and often listen when !’m driving to a tape she gave me.
This was followed by greetings and congratulations from Lt. Gen. Thomas C. Waskow, USAF, Commander of U.S. Forces Japan and Fifth Air Force. The commencement address was given by U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker Jr. who first pointed out his wife, Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker, former U.S. Senator from Kansas, and said, “She’s really a role model for young women.” I can certainly agree with that.
Ambassador Baker went on to say, “I can’t remember who spoke at my graduation, but I remember it was a milestone in my life. You will too.” Other comments by the Ambassador included, ”I’d like to quote Mike Mansfield in saying the U.S.-Japan bilateral relationship is the most important in the world” and ‘Tm optimistic mankind will find a way to live in peace.” He added humor to his presentation when he said, “Years ago, The New York Times was interviewing my mother, and they asked her if she had listened to my speech the night before. ‘Goodness no,’ she told them. ‘I heard everything he had to say years ago’.”
British Ambassador Sir Stephen J. Gomersall and his wife, Lady (Lydia) Gomersall, have had a busy year so far. On the sad side, their country (and the world) lost Princess Margaret and one of the most respected ladies in the world, the Queen Mother. She was 101 years old and could not have had a more productive, interesting and rewarding life. On the brighter side, the many spectacular events and the British people’s feeling toward and devotion to Queen Elizabeth II on her Golden Jubilee were enough to make any Brit proud. The Gommersalls, with their diplomatic, cultural, charity and community projects, just never slow down.
At the reception the Ambassador made a brief but meaningful speech before he and Lady Gommersall moved into the garden to mix with their guests. It was a nice celebration with things British (fish and chips, scones, smoked salmon, cheeses) and things Japanese including a taiko drum show. Kudos to all concerned.
Visiting Gabon Vice Prime Minister Emmanuel Ondo Metogho, here with a delegation of Gabon’s top businessmen, brought the highly acclaimed dance group Tandina with him. After seeing them dance and meeting them all the P.M.’s reception, I invited them as my guests to the Lex. About 20 showed up.
They had brought a CD of Senegalese music with them and volunteered to do an impromptu dance both nights. On the second night, May 25, we held the Lex’s 22nd anniversary party, and the club was packed both nights. My new Gabonese friends brought down the house with their energy, agility and personalities. They made a lot of friends at the Lex, not only for themselves, but also for their country.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender