Another of Tokyo’s popular diplomatic couples will be leaving soon after four years in Japan. Indian Ambassador Hemant Singh and his wife Mrinalini will be returning home to incredible India. Prior to their departure, the beautiful and very talented Mrinalini will hold several exhibitions of her highly acclaimed flower paintings. Those who are interested can see her work and perhaps meet the artist at an exhibition titled Empower, which will be held at the Ikeda Art Museum from September 12 through 28.
PHILIPPINE INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION
A big kudos to Kazuko (Kay) Siazon, wife of the Philippine Ambassador Domingo Siazon, and her staff. They, along with the staff of the Okura Hotel, really worked hard on setting up one of the best Philippine national day celebrations ever here in Japan. In addition to that, they set up a week-long Philippine food festival, also at the Okura, which was very successful. Domingo and Kay have many friends from all walks of life, and the hotel’s chic Ascot Hall was packed with people that night. Guests included Japanese government officials, diplomats, business leaders, and familiar faces from the art, fashion and entertainment worlds. The buffet was fabulous—the variety, quality and presentation could not have been better. All in all, it was a very special evening with my Filipino friends, perfect for the occasion.
CHINESE NATIONAL ACROBATIC TROUPE SHOW
Hiroyasu Kobayashi, president of Min-On Concert Association, along with his professional, internationally-minded staff, bring one after another of the world’s top cultural groups to perform all over Japan, as well as sending Japanese performers overseas. Thanks to Min-On, I’ve had the opportunity to see many of the world’s top entertainers, including folkloric dance groups, ballet companies, opera stars, and more. One of the most dynamic shows I was lucky enough to see consisted of two hours some of the most unbelievable acrobatics by the world-famous Chinese National Acrobatic Troupe from Beijing.
The artists start their training when they’re just children, and the things they can do with their skills, timing and bodies has to be seen to be believed. The youngest cast member was a 12-year-old girl, who (like the rest of the troupe) is dedicated to being the best at what she does. After the performance guests had the opportunity to meet and mingle with the cast at a reception. This gave me the opportunity to talk with several of the stars whom I had met last year, and also meet many for the first time. Believe me, China and Min-On have much to be proud of with this amazing show
LUFTHANSA INTRODUCES AIRBUS A380S ON NARITA TO FRANKFURT ROUTE
Wolfgang Maythuber, chairman of the executive board and CEO of Deutsche Lufthansa, was in town with a delegation to join the airline’s top man in Japan, Otto Benz, in introducing the Airbus A380 on the company’s Narita to Frankfurt flights. One of the many celebrations was a gala reception at the convention hall in the Prince Park. Tower Tokyo. The 450 people there for the special evening included executives from the travel and tourism business, with special guests such as the German Ambassador and Mrs. Volker Stanzel. Lufthansa’snew flagstaff, the A380, is the largest commercial aircraft in the world. It’s also one of the most ecological and, by all reports, very quiet. The program for the evening included a speech by the CEO, and both Japanese and German dignitaries joining in the breaking of not one, but two sake barrels. The buffet was excellent, and the laid-back mood gave guests the chance to get to know each other and test out some of the seats and special facilities of the new jets. Looking back, I have some great memories of my Lufthansa flights from Tokyo to Frankfurt and then Berlin for the official opening of the Sony Center there. In talking to friends who have recently flown on the new Airbus A380, some of their comments included, “It’s fabulous; you have to try it; what a way to fly; it’s the greatest.” I hope my first flight on this new craft isn’t too far off.
ITALIAN NATIONAL DAY CELEBRATION
You couldn’t have asked for more ideal weather on the day Italian Ambassador Vincenzo Petrone and his chic wife Susana hosted a midday reception in their beautiful residence and spacious garden on the occasion of Italy’s national day. Many Japanese love Italy, and as always there was a huge crowd of well-known guests from the fashion, film, architecture, automobile, arts, restaurant, lounge, and club industries. The Petrones wisely did as they did last year, and appointed Italian chef and restaurant owner Giorgio Matera as organizer of the huge and absolutely superb buffet. The ambassador, as well as several of Japan’s top chefs, worked together to make it a unique culinary experience that everyone enjoyed and will long remember. The garden at the Italian embassy is one of the most beautiful in Tokyo, and it was even better this year, with some very unusual rock sculptures from the 2009 Italia in Giappone exhibition by renowned artist Kan Yasuda.
While driving home on Saturday, August 2, I heard music coming from Yoyogi Park. I found a parking space, so decided to stop and check it out. It turned out to be a hip-hop festival, and was so much fun that I ended up staying several hours. In addition to performances by good bands on the main stage, there were what seemed to be thousands of cool young people doing their thing in hip-hop and break dancing competitions all over the park. Wow, some of them could really dance. The food on sale included Japanese, Korean, Hawaiian, Mexican and Turkish, and was good and cheap, and the mood and energy were contagious. I have to give credit to city and Shibuya-ku officials, who have let Yoyogi Park (one of our city’s finest green areas) become a real happening place. The international festivals there are always a cultural, culinary, and truly fun experience.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender
*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga