It was a full day of interviews, photo sessions and a huge press conference (700 people) at the Grand Hyatt Hotel for the Warner Bros. film “The Last Samurai?’ Things started with a bountiful buffet breakfast hosted by the hotel’s General Manager, Xavier Destribats. A dynamic exhibition of the Samurai armor and other costumes in the film had been set up near the entrance of the ballroom-the venue for the press conference. The stage setting for the conference with Tom Cruise, director Ed Zwick (they flew in that a.m.) and the Japanese cast was artistically dynamic-perfect for the event. Tom, Ed and the main Japanese cast-comprised of Ken Watanabe, Hiroyuki Sanada and Koyuki – had nothing but praise for each other, and it was easy to see how well they worked together for the film.
At the conference, Cruise said the main reason he wanted to make this film was because of Bushido, the code of the Samurai. It was a busy day for Tom. He was only here about 12 hours, and in addition to the press conference, interviews, photo shootings, etc., Warner Bros. had set up a meeting for him with Prime Minister Junichlro Koizumi. Tom and Ed will be back in Tokyo late November for more promotion. The film will open nationwide in Japan on Dec. 6. I had the opportunity to view dips of the film, and I feel safe in saying Warner Bros. has yet another winner.
To celebrate the National Day of Luxembourg, Ambassador Michele PranchereTomassini and her husband Dr. Jean-Yves Pranchere hosted a mid-day reception at the beautiful new Luxembourg house. The diplomatic couple are very popular and, as expected, there was a huge turnout to see their new light, bright, ultramodern chancery and residence. Our congratulations.
On the occasion of the 57th birthday of Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Damssalam, Ambassador Mhd Nor Jeludin and his wife Jauyah Mohd Davd hosted a colorful reception at the Imperial Hotel. The highlight of the evening was a fast-paced performance of traditional song and dance by a Brunei Darussalam cultural delegation that had been flown in for shows in and around Tokyo.
Over at the Palace Hotel, Moroccan Charge D’ Affaires Abdelilah El-Housni and his wife Akiko hosted a gala reception on the occasion of the Moroccan King’s throne day. King Mohammed VI ascended to the throne July 30, 1999. Once guests congratulated the hosting couple, they moved into the ballroom. There were a lot of interesting people that night, and the food-especially the Moroccan -was delicious. There was also a lively show by Moroccan drummer Mohammed Domnati and a group of Japanese belly dancers, each doing their own thing. A few weeks later I had the privilege of meeting new Moroccan Ambassador Abdel Kader Lecheheb and his wife Lamia, at a Min-on Concert Association evening of Moroccan music. The Lechehebs, after five years as Morocco’s Ambassador to Canada, were recently posted to Japan, and are here with their three children. I’m sure this personable and professional couple will like Japan and become very well-liked by the many people they’ll meet here. We wish them all the best.
It was a beautiful evening in every way when Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Nguyen Dy Nien and his wife joined Vietnamese Ambassador Vu Dung and his wife at the opening ceremony and reception for the new Vietnamese Embassy. After opening speeches by the minister, the ambassador and several top Japanese politicians, and the official ribbon-cutting, people there had the opportunity to meet the minister and other officials, check out the new facilities and enjoy the Vietnamese food. Our congratulations to Ambassador Vu Dung, his wife and the Vietnamese people on their new chancery here in Tokyo. Tourism to Vietnam is booming, and you really should visit this marvelous country while you’re in this part of the world.
Halloween’s just a couple of weeks away, and it’s time to start work on your or your kids’ costumes. The “trick or treat” fun holiday falls on Friday, Oct. 31, so Roppongi should be even crazier than usual. For kids’ costumes, huge pumpkins, and a great decoration, check out the second floor of National Azabu Supermarket. Lots of good stuff – and the prices are right.
Tsuguhiko Kadokawa, new Director General of the Tokyo International Film Festival, has made some important changes and has big expectations for this year’s event-the 16th TIFF. The festival opens Nov. 1 and runs through the 9th. For schedules and more, call 5777-8600. I was really happy to hear my all-time favorite Chinese actress Gong Li will be here as President of the Competition Jury.
On Tuesday, Nov. 11, Refugees International Japan will hold a charity concert at Musicasa, Yoyogi Uehara, from 1 p.m. Good music for a good cause. What more could you ask for? Info: Tel. 5500-3093, fax 5500-3094.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images: Tsukasa Shiga