Guests of Swedish Ambassador Mikael Lindstrom and his wife Kerstin are always given royal treatment whenever they’re invited to the couple’s home. That was especially true when they hosted a reception for their highly respected, much-loved Crown Princess, Victoria. I really appreciated the opportunity to meet this exceptional young lady. She’s very active and certainly had a full schedule for her visit here. She visited the Emperor and Empress, and was special guest at a dinner with T.I.H. Crown Princess Naruhito and Princess Masako.
She visited Sweden’s Pavilion at the Aiichi Expo, spoke to students at several schools, and even went hiking. Her father King Carl Gustav XVI, as you probably know, is a very active outdoorsman. I was happy to see Kagechika Matano and his wife Reiko. I first met him when he was head of Immigration. From there he went on to become Japan’s Ambassador to Sweden, Latvia, then Vietnam. His wife Reiko is a highly acclaimed English teacher. My thanks to Mikael and Kerstin for including me in this laid-back, enjoyable evening.
Thanks to celebrity security man Nestor Takamiyagi, I got to meet a really interesting group of people and show them a bit of Roppongi. The group — here with George Lucas who was here to promote Revenge of the Sith for 20th Century Fox, included George’s girlfriend Carrie Patton, his daughter Amanda, her boyfriend, Lucasfilm Ltd’s International P.R. man, Lucasfilm Ltd. International’s publicity manager John Singh, his boyfriend and actor Ian McDiarmid, a.k.a. ‘Supreme Chancellor’. Carrie had modeled here 20 years ago, and she still remembered the Lex. Amanda teaches hip hop to kids back home. Ran into Carrie at Across Travel in Hiroo a few days later. Told her how I spent some time with Harrison Ford, Mark Hammil, and Carrie Fisher when they were here to promote the first Star Wars. “George stays friends with all of them,” Carrie told me, adding “When I call him, his 12 year-old son Jet always says, ‘Is this the big Carrie?’ (me) ‘or the small one?’ (her).”
The third annual charity gala dinner party ‘Wings of Love’ was a very special and grand event in every way. Proceeds from the sold-out event that was sponsored by Hilton Tokyo, Birdlife Asia Division, and Taj Enterprise, went to the Birdlife Asia Bird Fund for threatened birds and their habitats. The Hilton Kiku ballroom was full of many of our city’s most important and charitable people. They included diplomats, business leaders, and the creme de la creme of both Japanese and foreign society. The guest of honor, H.I.H. Princess Takamado, a lady everyone respects and admires, is Honorary President of Birdlife International. As with all of the many, and I do mean many, worthwhile projects she’s involved in, she really puts her heart and soul into doing everything possible to help. The Princess is, in every way, an exceptional person. Once again, her straightforward and very meaningful speech at the gala really impressed everyone there. Kudos to the Hilton Tokyo on what had to be one of the best sit-down dinners I’ve had at this type of function. Forget the small steak, potato, couple of string beans, consommé soup, and small salad that usually make up a hotel sit-down dinner.
If you watch cable TV, you know how Qatar Airways has recently become the fastest growing airline. Its services, which brought all this about, include special care for unaccompanied children, disabled and medical services, meet and greet services, and a BMW first class shuttle service at Qatar’s capital city’s Doha International airport. First class seats are flat-bed type, there are privacy panels, 21 video channels, and even an espresso machine. Business class offers the Sogerma sleeper seats that recline to 160 degrees, as well as a full program of in-flight entertainment systems with 14 video channels with blockbuster movies, news, and documentaries.
Qatar Airways operates an exclusively Airbus fleet with A300-600s, A320-200s, and A330s-200s. In 2007, it’ll take delivery of the twin deck 500 passenger super-jumbo. The new Doha International Airport with its range of facilities is increasingly becoming a valuable international hub, and a favorite among seasoned travelers. Reservations, check-in, airport lounges, and in-flight service all ring true to Qatar Airways slogan “Taking you more personally”. Akbar Al-Baker, Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer flew in to Japan recently to host a celebration on the airway’s inauguration of four flights a week on the Doha-Osaka-Doha route. Here in Tokyo he hosted a dinner party in the grand ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. Guests at the gala celebration included Japanese government officials, diplomats, members of the media, and leaders in the travel and tourism business.
The Hilton’s new General Manager Christian R. Baudat really worked with the sponsors and head of the hotel’s food and beverage department, Kunio Ogura, to create a unique meal that was truly excellent. The menu included Japanese amuse-bouches, Chinese assorted hors d’oeuvres and vegetable sour soup, Vietnamese spring rolls with chilli plum sauce served on saffron noodles, salmon and scallops, tandoori chicken with biryani raisin rice, nan bread, and an original and delicious dessert.
The Fuji Rock Festival and Summer Sonic were both big successes. Several bands including Coldplay, New Order, Nine Inch Nails, and Oasis partied a bit at the Lex. Most of the cast of the Broadway show Blast as well as several of the cast members of Chicago and Stomp also spent their evenings at the club.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga