People often ask me if I don’t get tired of all the parties, the people and hanging out at the Lex in Roppongi, and I answer honestly that I really don’t but, when it does start to get to me, I, thanks to a lot of good friends, take a break at some exotic place in this old world of ours.
One of the things I enjoy most is introducing nice people to other nice people, and my column in the Weekender (for almost 30 years) and my work with the Lexington Queen disco in Roppongi (21 years) give me endless opportunities to do just that.
A few recent examples include getting together a really nice waiter who works at the Hilton Tokyo and has plans to go to Germany to make trumpets with the leader of the folkloric group here for the Swiss Festival. I learned that he also makes musical instruments.
Over at the Hungarian Embassy, I was happy to introduce Nilma Seth, wife of the new Indian Ambassador, to philanthropist Grace Saito. They had talked on the phone, and Grace made a substantial donation to the earthquake victims in India. This was the first time they actually met.
U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley’s sayonara at the embassy was big in every way. The huge crowd of people from all walks of life showed what an outgoing, gregarious, thoughtful and popular man is Tom. Talk about big-retired sumo Yokozuna Akebono was there, and he looked pretty sharp in a double-breasted suit and, as always, obligingly posed for photos with a couple of dozen fans. Big banking was well represented by former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker. The embassy staff had gone all-out to make the evening very special. This included a bountiful buffet that featured both American and Japanese favorites. Once he greeted arriving guests, Tom moved into the residence and tried to talk to everyone. When several friends asked me to take their photo with the ambassador, I jokingly said, “Gee, Tom, you’re almost as popular as Akebono.” He gave out with his hearty Irish laugh and said, “Bill, that will never happen.”
Tom, at the request of the U.S. government, stayed on a month or so longer than originally planned. During that time, he was instrumental in helping to take care of several unfortunate problems, and it wasn’t easy. After more than three years in Japan, Tom will resume work at his old law firm of Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer and Feld. I was very fortunate in getting to know Tom and Heather well. He played Santa Claus two years in a row at my orphans’ party at the Hilton Tokyo. Just received two letters from him-one typed, the other hand-written. Those, I guarantee you, will go into a special file of things I want to keep.
The home of Danish Ambassador Peter Bruckner and his wife Anna was wall-to-wall with VIPs on Mar. 7 when they hosted a reception in honor of the visiting Presidium of the Danish Parliament (Folketing). Guests included a man who, as you know if you read the papers or watch TV, is very busy now, former Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto. After hearing a short and very dynamic speech by the Danish Parliament Chairman Ivar Hansen, it is easy to see how he got where he is. It was a relaxed evening that gave all the guests the opportunity to meet and talk with the visiting VIPs. Kudos to the embassy chef Niels Frederik Walther; the buffet was superb.
There was a big turnout as well for Bulgarian Ambassador Petar Andonov’s mid-day reception on the occasion of the National Day of the Republic of Bulgaria. Guests included Japanese government officials, diplomats, their wives and business leaders. It was nice seeing again former Minister of Foreign Affairs and much-respected politician Yoshio Sakurauchi. Everyone there enjoyed the early afternoon break, the Bulgarian buffet and the festive mood.
At the Hotel New Otani, Brunei Ambassador Dalin Rafeah Murad and his wife Datin Hajah Rafeah hosted a reception on the occasion of the 17th anniversary of the National Day of Brunei Darussalam. A large photo of Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah displayed in the center of the function room was flanked by colorful floral arrangements from leading Japanese businesses and other friends of Brunei, congratulating the hosting couple and the Brunei community here on the special occasion. During the last few years, Brunei has begun to encourage tourism. The current campaign, Visit Brunei 2001, offers “A vibrant collection of the old and the new.” Touristic sites include the beautiful mosque, jungle walks in the rain forest, river trips, a visit to the villages with opportunities to mix with the people, beaches, the Jerudong theme park, museums and many shopping opportunities.
Check out the newly opened Don Quixote store in Roppongi. It’s four floors and a basement of anything and everything (watches, designer bags, TVs, DVD players, VCRs, CD and MD players, make-up, medicines and much more) at greatly discounted prices. More on DQ later.
One of my best memories of 10 days in Sicily a few years ago is the fantastic food. You can check this out yourself at Hilton Tokyo where they’re featuring a Sicilian dinner buffet at Brassiere Checkers every day except Friday, 6 to IO p.m. through May 31.
The majority of a 60-member Acappella group from a university in Mexico City dropped by the Lex almost every night while they were in Tokyo. I made sure they met some of the club’s regulars who are from Mexico, as well as a bevy of beautiful (and nice) models who speak Spanish. That was fun.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender