The Grand Hyatt Tokyo can be proud of its American “Team Leader, Executive Doorman;‘ Eric Douglas Foss. Originally from Los Angeles, Eric first came to Japan as a member of the U.S. Navy on the now-retired Aircraft Carrier USS Independence. During his duty here he met the girl who would become his wife, Yumiko. They have two children. After leaving the Navy, he did manual labor here for several months to support his family. He got a lucky break when he met his landlord, also Grand Master Chef of the prestigious Yokohama New Grand Hotel. He, in turn, introduced Eric to the hotel personnel manager, and Eric became a member of the hotel’s lobby staff. He worked there four years before joining the Grand Hyatt Tokyo. He “enjoys his job immensely; and as a frequent visitor to the Grand Hyatt, I can safely say the hotel has a very nice, outgoing, knowledgeable and always helpful man-out-front. At the same time, I’d like to commend Eric’s Japanese co-workers who couldn’t be nicer.
Everyone who keeps up with the world happenings knows the great work Refugees International does all over the world. Refugees International Japan (RIJ), a non-profit organization, certainly goes all out to “help restore the physical and mental well-being and dignity of refugees and internally displaced persons” by supporting emergency, health and education projects around the world. The “Art of Dining” charity exhibition is a major part of Rl)’s fundraising activities. Carol Smith Wright, wife of the Canadian Ambassador, was director of this year’s exhibition. Princess Hitachi, thoughtful and chic as always, was there to officially open the event. She checked out the 21 table settings and talked with each and everyone who put so much time and effort into the beautiful, original and dynamic displays.
Irish Ambassador Padraig Murphy was even busier (much busier) with the many special events around Japan to celebrate his country’s National Day: St. Patrick’s Day. These included the annual Emerald Ball, the big parades in Tokyo, and in Yokohama for the first time, as well as all kinds of St. Pat’s parties and events at the Irish pubs around Japan. Ambassador Murphy hosted a wall-to-wall people midday St. Pat’s celebration in his home on Mar. 17. I took time out of a photo shoot to drop by but wasn’t really dressed for the special occasion and appreciate Padraig’s consideration. When I apologized for my casual wear, he said, “Don’t worry, everyone knows you’re a creative person.” The interesting mix of guests, the excellent buffet of Irish food specialties and warm ambience added up to a notable celebration, perfect for the occasion.
Hanna Kite did her research on an article on five international food stores in Tokyo for a recent Metropolis feature. The only problem for me – and I drive – is they all seem to be well off the beaten path. In talking with several ambassadors’ wives, I learned they usually can get what they want at the National Azabu Supermarket. Sort of checked it out the other day, and the market does have a good selection of ethnic foods. These include a variety of Indian, Thai, Mexican and Philippine favorites, as well as some interesting Greek specialties … and even cous cous. Check it out for yourself.
While we’re on food a new restaurant, Life and Slow Food, just opened near my house in Moto-Yoyogi.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender