Seems like everyone everywhere in the travel biz (and lots of other businesses) knows Romano Mazzucco has retired after 14 years as Alitalia’s top man in Japan and Korea. He is the epitome of Italian gentility, humor, warmth and friendship. Alitalia hosted a huge reception at the Palace Hotel to give Romano’s many friends the opportunity to thank him, say ciao and wish him the best. It’s not exactly ciao yet though. Romano loves Japan and his countless connections and friends here. I see Romano often in Roppongi where he lives and at Elino’s restaurant in Kojimachi where he and so many I know like to eat. Romano will stay on as an adviser to Alitalia for a while, and he’s also keeping very busy as the president of the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Japan. Personally, I can’t thank him enough for his support, generosity and, most of all, his friendship over the years. It was a special evening with, as you can see by the photos, a lot of special people.
I would like to congratulate Alitalia on their 40th year of service to Japan and at the same time wish Romano’s successor Livio Rotta Detto Loria, introduced at the reception, a long, happy and successful stay in Japan.
I had the privilege of being asked to speak at a warm and special memorial held at the Okura by Shohachi and Mary Katayama and Rick and Annie Bernstein for the girls’ mother, Amy Sung. At the entrance, there was a pictorial display of Amy over the years. She was a beautiful child and beautiful woman. She was also a very modern and dynamic lady. I first met Amy at a party when I started this column and often saw her after that at all kinds of events. She loved and was an important part of Tokyo’s social scene. As I also said in my speech, “Amy’s up there with her husband Paul, also highly respected and well liked here, looking down and watching over their family and friends.”
Congratulations to one of Tokyo’s best known personal trainers, Mark McDonald, and Czech model Kristyna Lukesova. The handsome couple will marry in Prague June 8. Former U.S. Ambassador to Japan Tom Foley will fly to the Czech capital where he will be best man at the wedding ceremony.
The Hilton Tokyo has held cuisine and cultural festivals of Tunisia, Guam and India, and some excellent ethnic festivals took place at the Royal Park Hotel.
It was a very busy time for Ecuadorean Ambassador Marcelo Avila and his wife Maria Teresa during the recent working visit of Ecuador President and Senora Gustavo Noboa Bejarano. The presidential party included top-ranking government officials and a large group of Ecuador’s leading businessmen. The primary purpose of the official visit was to strengthen bilateral ties with Japan.
I had the privilege of meeting the president at an interesting afternoon-on-into-the-evening of Ecuadorean culture, cuisine and hospitality. The events were held at the New Otani and started with a paintings exhibition of watercolors by Ecuadorean artist Oswaldo Muiioz Marino. The exhibition was titled “Quito, Tokyo and the World Heritage Cities.”
After the opening of the exhibition, guests moved to another venue for an EcuadorJapan Encounter Concert, an interesting performance by Pro Musica Nipponia Ensemble which featured the work of Ecuadorean composer Diego Luzuriaga.
I would like to congratulate the New Otani on the superb buffet that evening. From the looks and taste of things, the hotel’s Food and Beverage department had gone about to increase and update the buffet menus.
Tokyo’s most fashionable ladies and a few of their husbands took time out of their busy schedules to attend one of the three showings of Jun Ashida’s 2002-2003 Autumn and Winter Collection, as always super chic, original and very wearable.
It was a colorful and fun Sunday at National Azabu when they celebrated their re-opening after re-modeling the main part of the store. It was also a busy day with an endless flow of people wandering around the store’s parking lot, enjoying the food booths and other attractions set up for the occasion. Check out the market’s new layout; you’ll like it, and don’t forget your points card.
So sorry I missed the flamenco evening at Le Teatre Ginza on May 7, hosted by Spanish Ambassador Juan Lena and his wife Carmen, Spanish Society of Japan President Hirotaro Higuchi and Shoji Kojima, director of his own ballet company.
I’ve known Shoji, Japan’s top flamenco dancer for many years, and knew his performance with Cristina Hoyos in a program titled “Encuentro” would be very outstanding. HIM Empress Michiko was the special guest at the “cultural bridge between Spain and Japan.”
Tokyo’s nightlife center for foreigners, Roppongi, a place where I’ve hung out and with which I have had a love-hate relationship for years, has been gearing up for the Worldcup.
Two favorites for Italian food in Roppongi are Bellini’s, across from the Roi Building, and Charleston and Son, behind the Roi. Part of the Roi Building is boarded up at the time of this writing, and it will be interesting to see what replaces the big Iranian carpet shop that was there for several years.
Right across the street is the new and quite busy Turkish restaurant Anatolia. Oasis, an excellent restaurant down the side street and next to the Lexington Queen, has closed, and I’m really sorry. The food and ambience were all the best. Also sorry more of you out there did not support American Neils Thomsen on this.
A Japanese disco, The Garden, has moved into the Oasis space in what has been a bad luck building over the years. They are aiming at the “young, mature Japanese” crowd but have a strict dress code, so it will be interesting to see what happens. Staff members in their double-breasted suits with clutchbag and mobile phone are a bit snotty.
The Greek restaurant (forgot the name) around the corner by the Square Building has bit the dust as well. I remember a couple of fun nights there enjoying the Greek food and breaking a few plates (a Greek custom) as well.
Walk across Roppongi’s main crossing (the big TV monitor, Almond Coffee Shop), and right next to the koban (police box), there is the new Trung Nguyen Vietnam Cafe. Continue a block or so toward Nogizaka, and you’ll see the chic Next Noodle Diner B* Eat. Another block or so, further across the street by the gas stand, you’ll see Bagel and Bagel, and their selection of bagels, cream cheeses and sandwiches is excellent.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender