I first got to know Mexican director Alejandro Gonzalez lnarritu when he was here looking for locations to shoot his highly acclaimed film Babel. He’s a really cool guy who likes people, and I was really happy to spend a little time with him when he came back to promote the film for the distributor, GAGA Communications. At the press conference, he expressed his “feeling of profuse emotion at people’s reaction to his film.” The main thing he loved about the film was the magical experience of working with so many different kinds of people. He didn’t want to promote good or bad, and loneliness. Millions of people in Tokyo and Mexico City too were an important element of Babel for him. I admired his straightforwardness in criticizing Japan about their outdated methods-too many rules and regulations when it comes to shooting a film here.
“There are all kinds of obstacles by the police. It was fun at times, but troublesome and frustrating more times. Japan needs a film commission to make things easier” Alejandro told the press. He was more relaxed at a party Mexican Ambassador Miquel Ruiz Cabanas and his wife Martha hosted at their home for him, the Japanese cast, GAGA execs, Latin Ambassadors and an interesting group of Miquel and Martha’s friends. There’s always a festive mood at anything they do, and that evening was no exception. The chicken mole, by the way, was out of this world.” My only disappointment was that Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal couldn’t come for the promo. He’s certainly one of the most versatile and best actors around.
The world get’s smaller, and I am glad it does. Two more of the world’s nicest people, former Tokyoites, Ron and Maria Anderson, were able to fly in from New York City for a week, and everyone I know were so happy to see them again. Ron, a top executive at A.I.G left NYC early and had a couple of work stops in Shanghai and Seoul before meeting Maria here in Tokyo. Maria, who is Lebanese, was the popular President of the International Ladies’ Benevolent Society for the year of ILBS’S 50th Anniversary when she lived in Tokyo. With all the friends they have here, and at the request of so many, like last year, they returned to Tokyo for the ILBS ball.
Congratulations to Jane Yonimine who just celebrated the 44th year of her internationally renowned pearl business. Jane’s satisfied customers include the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Martin Scorcese and several US Presidents. Check out her shop on the fifth floor of the arts shop across from the Roppongi police box. Tel 03-3402-4001. To do: The fifth annual Wings of Love celebration of culture, couture and cuisine, “Festival of India” will be held at Hilton Tokyo’s Kiku Ballroom on the evening of May 25. “This years colorful, elegant and enjoyable event will feature sitar and violin music, a special performance of Indian dance, jewelry from the best known brands of India and highly acclaimed Japanese jewelry designer Kazuo Ogawa, and fashion by Kiyoshi Yamamoto.
At the Thai Embassy Ambassador Suvidhya Simaskul and his wife, Boontipa, hosted a wonderful garden party to celebrate Songkran (Thai New Year). I had sort of planned on going to Chengmai in Northern Thailand for Songkran, but got involved in too much here. I did go a few years ago, and believe me, that was fun. There were other Thailand related happenings as well. Over at the Grand Hyatt, there was a well attend-ed sayonara for Thai Airways General Manager, M.L. Bhudhisaren Varavarn. Buddy, as his friends call him is at his new post in London now. I’ll have the photos and a rundown on the party later. Thai friends visiting Tokyo included former Ambassador to Japan, Sakthip Krairiksh and his wife Benchapa. After they left Japan he became secretary of tourism and sports in Bangkok. He’s retiring soon but I am sure he will be very active in the private sector.
As I am sure you know, the Ireland festival, 2007 to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day was bigger, better and greener than ever! I’ll save photos and coverage of Ambassador Brendan Scannell and his wife, Margaret’s super party at the Okura Hotel’s Ascot Hall until later. The party was to celebrate St Patrick’s Day, the Irish National Day and to mark 50 years of Ireland-Japan Diplomatic relations. More on that and the parade etc, later.
My sincerest thanks to Tunisian Ambassador Salah Hannachi for his kind invitation to the Tunisian night at the City Club of Tokyo. The evening was one of the activities for Tunisian week at the club. Others included an Ambassador forum on cuisine and culture. The Rose party, as it was called was held with the support of Monaco Protocole. Guests, for the most part, were young Japanese women there to enjoy the Tunisian food, the music and to make new friends. Most I learned were students of Yurie Hatanaka, the wife of Monaco Protocole (a private company) President Jean Henry Tamenne. She, I was told, holds classes to teach Western manners and customs. In a message from Jean Henry I was told Protocole Monaco made a donation from the Rose party to the Tunisian Embassy to contribute to the effort to improve the conditions of life in Tunisian rural areas.
On the 49th floor of the Mori Tower in Roppongi Hill’s where an enthusiastic and interesting crowd (wall to wall people) gathered to watch the Tokyo Tower all lit up green. The sponsor for the extravaganza was the company Glen Dimplex Japan. Products include super design heaters, and beautiful electric fireplaces. HIH Princess Takamado was special guest and as you can see from the photo, she looked marvelous in green for the Tokyo Tower lighting and the Emerald Ball later that evening. It was an interesting gathering that included a well-known Japanese singer, an actor, a food designer and a half Japanese, half. Irish soccer player. When I introduced the soccer player to Princess Takamado, I learned she was President of the Japan Football Association. Kudos to the amazing lady who is involved in so many worthwhile activities.
It was a star studded evening when Nobu opened his new Nobu Tokyo on the first floor of Toranomon Towers behind the Okura Hotel. Guests were greeted at the entrance by Nobu’s daughter Junko, who looked super chic in traditional kimono. The chic well-designed restaurant with it’s wooden floors, long open kitchen, soft lighting and comfortable furniture all added up to something very special. The highlight of the evening for me was spending some time with long time friend, Robert De Niro and his wife Grace. Bobby as most of you know is Nobu’s business partner, and there was another long time friend, Meir Teper with them. He handles the business and new projects for Nobu’s.
It was nice seeing Kaz and Fran Kuzui, they made their fame with Bully the Vampire Slayer and are involved in all kinds of new film projects. I hadn’t seen actor Masaya Kato for a while and was happy to have the opportunity to congratulate him on two recent and successful films Brothers and Unfair. It was also great seeing pop singer Anfi. She and her ex, Ken (nephew of designer Yamamoto Kansai) used to party at the Lex. Anri’s escort that evening was a member of the Hawaiian band Kapolana. They used to party at the Lex as well. Our congratulations to Nobu, Bobby, Meir and Junko on their new Tokyo eatery. Needless to say, they’re busy. Watch for Nobu’s in Dubai.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga