Thanks to outstanding Japanese drummer Naoki Ishikawa who is in the cast of “Blast;” I had a great seat at Bunkamura Orchard Hall for the super show. Thanks to pop idolmaker Johnny Kitagawa, I had just about the same seat for the LaScala production of “West Side Story.” At first I thought these were expensive when I saw ¥11,000 on one ticket and ¥14,000 on the other, but thought again and realized this is about what you would pay for a show on NYC’s Broadway or London’s West End.
It was Hollywood right here in Tokyo at Budokan when Buena Vista International Japan hosted the Japan premiere of the box office hit, “Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl:’ The huge crowd waiting to get into the Budokan to see “Pirates” formed a line a half-dozen city blocks long. The producer Jerry Bruckheimer, his wife Linda, the director Gore Verbinski and a colorful variety of Japanese celebrities got out of long limos at the main entrance, proceeded along a wide silver carpet past a stage full of TV and still cameramen and to their seats. Prior to the screening, Jerry and Gore went on stage for brief speeches. This was followed by pop idol Kane Kosugi, all dressed up like a pirate, flying over the audience in the Budokan. It was awesome. Kane’s father, Sho Kosugi, a long-time friend of mine, is a martial arts actor who played the ninja in a series of American films. our congratulations to Buena Vista’s Dick Sano and his staff on their gala premiere presentation.
At the Hilton, guest chefs from Lisbon will join the hotel culinary team in preparing a Portuguese dinner buffet as part of the Portuguese Promotion. Paintings and crafts from Portugal will be on display and for sale Sept. 15-30.
As part of Soka Gakkai President Daisaku Ikeda’s vision of the importance of Africa in the 21st century, Min-On Concert Association will present “The Music of Morocco-a Land of Boundless Mystery:’ Singer Amina Alaouin, the “Flower of Morocco;’ and two groups, Gnawa and Tachinourt, are currently performing in concerts in 19 cities throughout Japan. I’ve seen these artists perform at the Summer Cultural Festival in exotic Marrakech. They are well worth seeing (and hearing). The Tokyo concert is on Sept. 16 with performances at 2 and 6:30 p.m. at Nakano Sun Plaza.
Kudos to Austrian friends Susanne Angerholzer and Antonia Kuhnel who organized an exhibition of awesome contemporary jewelry at Wako Hall in Ginza. The collection featuring the creative work of several young jewelry designers was exceptional.
I dropped by the Vietnamese Embassy recently and, from the looks of things, those great Vietnam Air commercials you see on CNN are working. The visa office was wall-to-wall Japanese of all ages applying for visas for their trip to that fascinating country. I tell you, that’s a place I want to visit again, and soon. You can get a taste Vietnam right here in Tokyo. of From Sept. 19 to 23, there will be a big Vietnamese festival in Hibiya Park. Special events include traditional music and dance performances, a fashion show, crafts displays and, of course, Vietnamese food.
A special thanks to Qatar Ambassador Riyadh Al-Ansari and his his wife Muna for their support of the Tokyo Weekender. At the same time, congratulations to the people of Qatar on their 32nd National Day celebration Sept. 10. I hope to get to that exciting country for the first time soon. Perhaps for the Asian Games 2006, in Doha.
Had a great two weeks of music-related events prior to my trip. We had a dozen or so pop bands dropping by the Lex during the Fuji Rock Festival, and a dozen and a half during the Summer Sonic Festival. No problems but, with all the groupies, it was a pretty wild scene.
Yoyogi Park was packed for three days straight with people who love Thai food (Who doesn’t?), Thai entertainment and Thai hospitality. The occasion was the fourth annual Thai Food Festival, and I am glad I got up and out for the opening ceremony. Lots of friends there for the program which included a welcoming speech by Ambassador Kasit Piromya, the traditional striking of the gong to open the festival, a Thai cultural show and the opportunity to enjoy all the Thai culinary favorites. It was like a huge international picnic; the ambience was just great.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender