Republic of Kosovo 4th Independence Day Reception
To celebrate his country’s independence, Kosovan ambassador Sami Ukelli hosted a well-attended reception at the Okura hotel. Two of my favorite Japanese friends, the legendary Sadako Ogata, U.N. high commissioner for refugees and JICA president, and Kazuyuki Hamada, parliamentary vice-minister for foreign affairs, both gave short and very informative congratulatory speeches. The reception was casual and laid back, with interesting people and an excellent buffet of mid-Easter food. Ambassador Ukelli is a very well-liked diplomat. We found out later why he seemed a little hyper. It seems his wife was in Vienna waiting for the birth of their first child, and as soon as the Tokyo party was over the ambassador hopped on a special flight to Austria to be with her. Our congratulations to the Ukellis on the birth of their daughter Anna, on February 28th.
German Ambassador and Mrs. Volker Stanzel’s Beautiful Sakura Party
In addition to seeing the sakura in the Stanzels’ beautiful garden, guests got to the see and use the newly renovated tea house. The renovation was the gift of Dr. Genshitsu Sen of the Urusenke School as a contribution to the celebration of 150 years of German-Japanese relations. The program that afternoon opened with a very informative presentation by ambassador Stanzel, highlighting the history of the beautiful residence and the spacious gardens with all of its traditional treasures. After his talk guests were free to roam around, enjoy the sakura, take part in a tea ceremony, and listen to live music by shakuhachi master Seiho Nagai and his accompanist on the koto.
Neary’s National Day Reception
It was wall-to-wall people at the home of John Neary for the popular Irish ambassador’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration. It was a nice crowd, with most of my Irish friends really enjoying the laid back ambience of the evening. We enjoyed a marvellous variety of Irish food, and, of course, lots of Irish beer. The only downer was when Neil Day told me they were closing down one of Tokyo’s most popular Irish bars, Paddy Foley’s which is in the basement of Roppongi Roi building. It has long been a favorite of so many Irish people living or visiting here, an the locals as well. Thanks for the good times Neil. All the best in your future ventures.
Thanks to Deutsche Bank Group’s president/CEO, David Hatt, his wife, Helen, and world renowned art dealer Norman Tolman, I really got into this year’s Art Fair at Tokyo International Forum. The nearly two hundred exhibitors showed everything from traditional and classic art to off the wall and very original pop art – there was one booth who’s walls were covered with lots of show-it-all porno.
Minon Concerts Tour for Top Argentinian Tango Dancers and Musicians
Minon’s super successful Japan tour of performances by top bandoneon (a type of consertina) virtuoso Fabio Hager, with a vocalist and three award-winning tango couples, was proof positive of why tango dancing is considered one of the most dramatic, difficult, graceful and unquestionably sexiest forms of dance there is. It was a beautiful show in every way. Minon, a subsidiary of Soka Gakkai, always has a full calendar of international cultural exchanges. I can’t tell you exactly how many great shows (Ballet Folklorico de Mexico, the National Acrobatic Show from Beijing, Jamaica Rocks, etc etc) they’ve given me the privilege of seeing. Minon also sends Japanese cultural groups all over the world to perform.
The Imperial Hotel’s Annual Reception for the Media
This year’s glittering reception, hosted for the media by the hotel’s president Tetsuya Kobayashi, was certainly first class all the way. The Hikari Room was beautifully decorated and the buffet presentation the epitome of high quality and good taste. Each of the many chefs were justifiably proud of the many gourmet dishes they had prepared for the event. It was really nice mixing with the many journalists I’ve gotten to know over the years, and it was nice having the hotel’s PR guru Nacio ‘Skip’ Cronin there to introduce me to interesting people I didn’t know. I was also happy to be able to introduce ceremony president Tsukasa Shiga to Halekulani Co. CEO Peter Shaindlin, who had flown here for the reception. A few months ago Peter helped me get Shiga a luxurious suite at his company’s renowned resort in Hawaii. It always amazes me how nice people are, and how lucky I am to have them as friends.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga