People-watching in the lobby of the Grand Hyatt can really be interesting. One recent evening I got to Roppongi Hills a bit early for an Austrian design exhibition at TV Asahi’s Umu Museum, so decided to relax in the Hyatt lobby. First, I ran into Louis Vigden, president of the Cigar Club who has a shop in the hotel. He and his family recently relocated to New York City and “love it there.” He was at the hotel with Tenunaro Hiramoto, the publisher of the prestigious Seven Seas Magazine. Then a very chic Chintana Piromya (wife of the Thai Ambassador), who was meeting someone there, came over to say hello. I chatted with members of the huge “The Matrix Revolutions” delegation who were staying there, and met a French TV crew here to shoot the premiere of French director Luc Besson’s film “Michael Valliant” at the Tokyo International Film Festival.
My neighbor Volker Jaindl, General Manager Vienna Representative Office and Director Austrian National Tourist Office, met visiting Vienna dignitaries in the main lobby, and I walked with them to TV Asahi for a wonderful Austrian design exhibition. Recent happenings at the hotel include “The Matrix Revolutions” press conference and Jun Ashida’s fashion show. Just a five-minute walk away, noted photographer Benjamin Lee held a photo exhibition at a cool hangout, the Heartland Gallery and Bar.
It was a very special evening at the New Otani Hotel when Qatari Ambassador Reyad Ali Ahmed Al-Ansari and his wife Muna hosted a grand reception to celebrate their country’s 32nd National Day. The huge Ho-ohno-ma room was filled with wall-to-wall people, enjoying the lavish buffet, the warm ambiance of any Al-Ansari gathering and, of course, the people. The only downer was saying sayonara to Kuwait Petroleum Corp. representative Sheikh Faisal J.A. AI-Sabah. After four years, the son of the ruler of Kuwait-and as nice a man as you could ever meet-was returning home.
It was a beautiful day Sept. 17 when Singapore Ambassador Tai Soo Chew and his wife Penni hosted a mid-day reception on the occasion of the Republic of Singapore’s National Day. Once guests congratulated the hosting couple, they moved into one of the two dining rooms for excellent Chinese food or out to the open patio to take advantage of the warm weather. The guests were an interesting mix of Japanese politicians, diplomats, business leaders and society. I enjoyed talking with young politician Kenji Kosaka. His father Zentaro was a highly regarded and much respected Minister of Foreign Affairs at one time.
On Oct. 7, Shintoyo Enterprises Ltd. President Shohachi Katayama and his wife Mary hosted a reception for the opening of the Aston Martin Akasaka showroom. There was a nice turnout of Tokyo trendsetters there to congratulate Shohachi and Mary. The two Aston Martins-a Vanquish and a DB7-GT-were, of course, the center of attention. Talk about dream cars and fantasies.
For the first time in 13 years, there was a Thai film festival here in Tokyo. Organized by the Royal Thai Embassy and Japan Foundation Asia Center, the festival featured 20 films. In Thai Ambassador Kasit Piromya’s speech at the opening reception, he pointed out that Thai films now have universal appeal, adding, “Here in Tokyo we already have a firm footing with Thai films available in many video shops, and even being shown on late TV!’
I wish I had known about the Oct. 3-8 film festival in Marrakech, Morocco. I saw a CNN report on it and noted several friends, including director Oliver Stone, were special guests. Stone is currently shooting the film “Alexander” on location there. A month or so ago when producer Jerry Bruckheimer was in town, we talked about Morocco. He shot his highly acclaimed film “Black Hawk Down” there. “It was a difficult film to make;’ Jerry said, adding, ” but the Moroccans were really helpful and cooperative. I hope to work there again.” While we’re on film festivals, congratulations to Tsuguhiko Kadokawa and the many others who worked so hard to make the Nov. 1-9 Tokyo International Film Festival a big success.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender