First my sincerest congratulations to the ladies of ILBS for what had to be one of the most packed, most successful and most fun kids’ special events I’ve seen anywhere. The Okura’s Akebono room was gaily decorated, the stage had a set like a European village and the members of the American School in Japan band were dressed like elves.
There were a dozen or so games set up around the room and there were many familiar Theater for Children faces in duck, lion, pioneer, cat, troubador and other guises. Off in another room, ladies were serving goodies the young (and not-so-young) love, including soft drinks, hot dogs and some of the best home-made cookies I’ve tasted for a long time. When I asked popular TV personality Tetsuko Kuroyanagi —dressed up as a Fairy God-mother—if she were the wicked witch, she bonged me with her star-studded wand.
Everybody, but everybody, was there. If they weren’t working, they had brought their kids . . . and there’s nothing better then seeing a bunch of beautiful international kids having a ball. Pictures, especially in this case, say much more than words, and I snapped quite a few. I would have liked to have remained right to the end, but had to go on to sumo. Kudos to Mary Von Hirschberg who was chairman and all the ladies from both the foreign and Japanese communities who worked awfully hard to make the Children’s Carnival the huge success that it was.
Nigerian Farewell Party
That evening we headed out Meguro way to Nigerian Ambassador Peter Udoh and his wife Cordella‘s residence where they were hosting a sayonara for their Minister Counsellor, James Afolabi and his wife Christine. The Afolabis have just been here a year and are going to Hong Kong to work out of the Nigerian Mission there.
We got there a little late and the house was full of friends of the Afolabis. These included Sudanese Ambassador El-Baghir Abdel Mutaal, and his wife Mahasin; Ghananian Ambassador Victor Esem Wood and his wife Essie; Egyptian Minister-Counsellor Ahmed Fouad Morsi Hamed; Peter Mdala (Chargé d’Affairs at the Zamb-ian Embassy) and his wife Cecella and Col. Geoffrey I. Marealle, Counsellor of the Tanzanian Embassy and his wife Aripa. Regina Doi, head of Aoba International School, was there with her son Adam . . . he’s growing up to be a really nice guy. Regina told me that the Afolabi’s 41/2-year-old daughter Saraya has been attending her school and “would be a real loss.” Regina went on to say, “She’s so bright and just soaks up learning like a sponge does water.”
The Afolabis also have a 12-year-old son who goes to boarding school in England. My thanks to L.O. Orimogunje, Third Secretary at the Nigerian Embassy, for his attention and introducing us to some people we hadn’t met be-fore. These included Dave and Joan Dreisker (he’s general manager Far East for Tesoro Trading) and Mr. and Mrs. A.L. Yar Adua with the Kaduna Refinery Project.
There was a super buffet with many Nigerian dishes, and then speeches by Ambassador Udoh and Mr. Afolabi. Later I wandered back into another part of the house where the children of the embassy staff and the embassy’s Japanese employees were having a little party of their own. It was a casual relaxed evening with friends and we appreciated this opportunity to say so long to the Afolabis.
Party hosted by Peruvian Ambassador
On the 25th, the wife of the Peruvian Ambassador, Mme Cesar Espejo Romero, or, as her many friends call her, Wally—held a luncheon for a group of her lady friends at the embassy residence. Ambassadors’ ladies who were there included Maureen Mansfield (U.S.A.), Lady Joan Wilford (U.K.), Saiwa Al-Mokarrab (U.A.E.), Najete Yahia (Tunisia), Badri Majd (Iran), Vanda Kreacic (Yugo-slavia), Francoise Mendieta (Paraguay), Rama Pant (Ne-pal) and Nilufer Eyiceoglu (Turkey).
David Jones, a friend of Sumo
That same afternoon . . . Sunday the 22nd . . I got to share what has to be one of the greatest experiences a foreigner can have in Japan: the sumo matches and some of the parties afterwards with David Jones. Sumo—apart from simply watching the matches—is pretty much behind closed doors not only for us gaijin, but for most Japanese as well. One exception is David Jones who not only has presented the Pan American Cup to the champion for the last 17 years, but also has been completely accepted by the sumo world as a true friend.
He’s “in” so well and liked so much, the warm friendship and hospitality the sumo wrestlers extend to him is also extended to those tagging along with him. That day Dave’s friends, other than myself, were Princess Michaela von Habsburg, Steve Parker, Yves A.M. Ale-many of the French Embassy, Dr. Eugene Aksenoff and his son Nicholas. We all enjoyed the tournament and watching Davey in his own private wrestling match with Pan Am’s beautiful—and huge—trophy.
Palace Hotel – CIGA Hotels Italian Festival
Later that day, dusted off the tuxedo, got all dressed up and joined about 20 others at the Palace Hotel for the opening reception of the Palace Hotels-CIGA Hotels Italian Festival. We always look forward to this as it gives us a chance to get together with our good friend Roberto Bacciarelti who has been the guiding light in the festivals since they first started here at the Palace Hotel. two years ago.
It was an impressive crowd that evening that included royalty, diplomats, top business executives and their wives plus most of the Italian community here. As always, we enjoyed talking with Prime Minister Fukuda’s daughter Kazuki Ochi who was with her brother-in-law Hideo Ochi. Her husband, Michio Ochi, a member of the Diet and was at a special meeting that evening.
Italian Ambassador and Mrs. Vincenzo Tornetta were there. Their older son Marco was with Barbara Koch, the pretty daughter of Italian Minister-Councellor Luciano and Mrs. Koch. The Tornettas’ younger son Lithe arrived later after his Sophia classes. Alitalia supported the festival and was very well represented by Carlo and Enza Morelli, Danilo and Lily Macchia, Pierro and Elizabeth Martell’, Guido and Lore Gandino and Tsuneki Sakai.
The Italian Institute of Foreign Trade (I.C.E.) also took part and the office’s director Dott. Giorgio Corrias and his wife Rosalia were there, of course. Japanese VIPs included Prince Masatero Konoe, Mr. and Mrs. K. Kawashima (he’s vice president of Honda) and Mr. and Mrs. S. Kase (former ambassador to the U.S.). Mario Pezzutto, president of the Tourist Office for the Venice Region, and Giuliano Innocenti, secretary-general of AUREA in Florence, had flown in for the festival and presented special awards to Prof.
Everyone then moved to the lobby floor where the artisans demonstrated painting, weaving, leather-craft, glass-blowing and jewelry engraving. The Italian Fair goes on at the Palace until Feb. 28; there’s really something there for everyone, so be sure to drop by. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. For more information and details, dial 211-5211.
Second World Ballet Concours in Japan
Masako Ohya was holding the opening reception for the Second World Ballet Concours in Japan over at the Keio Plaza . Fortunately traffic wasn’t bad and we got there about 8 (it started at 7). Masako was just leaving . . . she had a TV performance scheduled, but turned us over to one of her staff who introduced us to the many dancers from all over the world. The Egyptians we knew from the Cairo Ballet visit here last year, and we had also met a few of the European dancers who were here at the First Concours.
Had some language problems with the Cubans but with their little English, my little Spanish and gestures we got through. Did you know the Cuban Ballet will perform at New York’s Metropolitan Opera House June 13-24 this summer? The reception broke up about 8:30 and we had coffee with a half a dozen of the young dancers . . . all so full of hope and so happy to have the chance to come to Japan.
At the opening ceremony Masako Ohya in a flowing red and gold dress, and her husband Shinzo Ohya in a tuxedo, red velvet tie and red cumber-buns (the upholstery in his block-long Cadillac is also bright red velvet) were in the center of the stage. Ambassadors, their wives and members of the international jury were also seated on the stage.
The ballet couples from 16 countries came on the stage, were introduced, and formed lines of each side of the Ohyas. Everyone stood and they played the Japanese national anthem. Mrs. Ohya held off as long as she could, but when there’s music, she’s just got to sing, and sing she did.
On Feb. 8 there were the awards presentations and a gala performance. Masako made a dynamic speech and hit pretty hard at both governmental agencies and big business for their lack of interest and support for international cultural exchanges . . . the audience loved it.! For a finale the Ohyas were joined on stage by all the dancers, the judges and just about anyone who had any-anything to do with the Ballet Concours.
Masako was showered with kisses and floral tributes. Tears ran down her checks asshe sang Auld Lang Syne, and the curtain went down on the The Second World Ballet Concours in Japan. The Soviet pair of Lludmila Smorgachova and Sergei Lukin won the gold prize with second place going to the Czechoslovakian pair, Jana Kurova and Lubomir Kafka.
After the curtain descended everyone moved to another building for a reception with Masako passing out traditional 100 “good luck” coins. The next day the group traveled to Osaka for a performance be-fore flying back to their homes. Kudos to Shinzo and Masako Ohya, the International Arts Foundation and the many others involved in this really momentous International Cultural exchange evening performance
DEBS Evening Party
The Debs held an evening party at their opulent home. This means an evening of interesting people. That evening was no exception. Familiar faces included Carl and Mary von Hirshberg, Philippine Airline’s Charlie and Katy Hagedorn, Lilo Maruyama, Hiyama Shammout, Amy Sung and her daughter Mary, Masoud Refghi, and Reg and Billie Jenkins.
During dinner I sat with Egyptian Ambassador Mohsen Khalek and his out-of-town visitor Minister Carnal Askar who’s chief of general public mobilization and statistics. Shujaat Khan, counsellor at the Pakistan Embassy, joined us and we heard some exciting tales of his big game hunting. Then Goro Nakasone from the Gaimusho came over and we talked about some of his experiences … it seems several years back when he was with the Japanese consulate in New York they had to protect the designer KENZO from a Japanese Citizen’s Group who weren’t happy about Kenzo’s boutique name “JAP.” Goro and his wife Perla may be posted abroad before too long. They will really be missed.
Saturday the 4th and over to the Indonesian Ambassador’s residence where Ambassador and Mrs. Witono were hosting a dinner party in honor of Princess Michaels von Habsburg. It was an informal, intimate affair and really gave me the chance to get to know the ambassador and his wife Prayuni better.
Noriko Ohno, President of Kokusai Ikebana Gakuin, was there and we enjoyed meeting Mr. and Mrs. Kuntjoro Pranoto, formerly posted in Sri Lanka and just arrived in Tokyo. Mr. Pranoto is Minister-Counselor at the Indonesian Embassy.
Glory of Isfahan Exhibition at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi
Tuesday the 31st, I headed down to Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi for the opening ceremony of the “Glory of Isfahan” exhibition there. Everything was beautifully organized. There were brief speeches by Iranian Ambassador Nasser Maid. Mitsukoshi Ltd. President Shigeru Okada, Michiro Kato . president of Chunichi (Tokyo) Shimbun and Dr. Houshang Nahavandi, chief of the Special Bureau of H.I.M. Shahbanu Farah of Iran. H.I.H. Princess Mikasa cut the ribbon, and we were then shown around the beautifully displayed exhibition of many Iranian cultural treasures of the Safavid and Qajar dynasties.
From here we went to another large room for a reception. Others sharing this interesting morning were Maureen Mans-field, wife of the U.S. Ambassador; Edith Dauge, wife of the French Ambassador; Algerian Ambassador Brahim Ghafa; Masoud Refghi, director of Iran Air here, members of the Iranian Embassy, and several Japanese VIPs.
When we left the reception each of us were presented with a book on Iran and the collection. The exhibition is on the 7th floor of Mitsukoshi’s Nihonbashi Store and runs through Feb. 12; really a “must-see.” There’s also a Persian folk craft bazaar and an exhibition of Persian carpets and embroidery. After the exhibition closes in Tokyo it will be shown at Mitsukoshi stores and affiliated stores throughout Japan.
That evening we had the privilege of attending a black-tie dinner as Mitsukoshi Ltd. President Shigeru Okada hosted at Mitsukoshi Silver House to celebrate the opening of the Iranian show. The party was graced by • the attendance of Their Imperial Highnesses Prince and Princess Mikasa.
Other special guests included Their Excellences Dr. H. and Madam Nahavandi, Princess Michaela von Habsburg, Iranian Ambassador and Mme. Nasser Majd, Mr. and Mrs. Hadi Debs, Masoud Refghi of Iran Air, Mrs. and Mrs. Masoud Shemirani of the Iranian Tourist Information Center.
During cocktails, I had a chance to talk with Dr. Nahavandi . . . he’s a very busy and interesting man. They had been in New York with H.I.M. Empress Farah Pahlavi, flew to Tokyo for the exhibit and were to leave the next morning to join Empress Farah in New Delhi for three days be-fore returning to Iran. Dr. Nahavandi was Iran’s minister of housing, has been chancellor of Teheran University and is now chief of the Special Bureau of H.I.M. The Shahbanu. He has a daughter attending the University of Colorado to study psychology and French. The dinner was superb and after-dinner entertainment included a classical Japanese dance by one of Japan’s best. Kako Yoshimura.
Mr. Okada made a short speech concerning Mitsukoshi’s many connections with Iran. In addition to the exhibit. Mitsukoshi also has opened a Japanese restaurant — “Nihonbashi” — in Teheran. Other projects include working with Toho on a film entitled “Flaming Autunm” being shot in Iran, to be released next spring. A memorable evening; I appreciate being included.
Welcome Reception for Iranian Nahavandi
Dashed over to the Iranian Embassy where Iranian Ambassador and Mrs. Nasser Majd were hosting another grand, people-packed party, planned in honor of their excellencies Dr. H. and Mrs. Nahavandi who had come to Japan for the opening of Mitsukoshi’s “Glory of Isfahan” exhibit. Unfortunately the Nahavandis had to leave for New Delhi that morning to join H.I.H. Empress Farah and weren’t able to attend the party in their honor. We missed them of course, but were also happy to see so many other friends at the Iranian Embassy.
H.I.H. Prince and Prince Mikasa were there, and we really enjoyed talking with them in this relaxed atmosphere. I was surprised to hear Prince Mikasa speaking fluent Persian. He, among other things, is a linguist. The huge crowd was a mixture of diplomats, business executives and Japanese and foreign society. It’s good to see United Arab Emirates Ambassador Ahmed Al-Mokarrab back in Tokyo. He’s been in Abu Dhabi for Japan Foreign Minister Sonoda’s visit there.
Mexican Ambassador Xavier Olea Muioz is a man-on-the-go too and told us he’s off to Mexico on official business for a few weeks. I just got a letter from my brother Chris who’s sunnin’ and funnin’ in Acapulco … wish I were there! Talked with Mr. and Mrs. Hideo Kagami (he’s with the Gaimusho) and was happy to hear of his promotion. He’s now director-general of public information. Kagami-san is very international and extremely capable; a man you know will succeed in anything he tries.
El Salvador Reception for Lic. Alvaro Ernest Martinez and Mrs. Martinez
At the New Otani, El Salvador Ambassador Gregorlo Contreras and his wife Doris were hosting a cocktail buffet in honor of H.E. Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, Lic Alvan Ernesto Martinez and Mrs. Martinez. The crowd had thinned out a bit by the time we got there, and this gave us a chance to talk with Minister Martinez.
He, his wife and a delegation had spent a week visiting China, were here in Japan for a few days and would then join their President Carlos Humberto Romero in New Orleans on an official visit before returning to El Salvador. Others we enjoyed talking with at the reception included Uruguayan Ambamador Alberto Rodriquez-Nin and his wife Susana, Paraguayan Ambassador Marcos Martinez Mendieta and his wife Francoise, and Argentine Ambassador Carlos Fraguio and his wife Martha.
Guatemalan Ambassador Caries Enrique Molina happily reported on a marriage in his family. It seems he was quite surprised when his daughter Olga Marina came to Japan early this year with her fiance Francisco Villagran. Francisco had just graduated from law school and his father is a candidate for Vice President of Guatemala. The two young people were married on Jan. 6 at Sophia Chapel. We wish them a long happy life together.
Kuwait National Day 1978
Kuwait Ambassador Ahmad Ghaith Abdullah, Mrs. Abdulla, their children and the people of Kuwait on the celebration of their National Day which falls on Saturday, Feb. 25, this year.
Opening of the new Norwegian Chancery
Friday, Feb. 10, and we join-ed Japanese government officials, diplomats and business leaders in Azabu for the official opening of the new Norwegian Chancery. The ceremony was held in the courtyard. There were brief speeches by Norway’s Ambassador Bjorn Blakstad and Japan’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Keisuke Arita, the flag was raised while both Norway’s and Japan’s national anthems were played and the ribbon was cut by H.I.H. Crown Prince Harald of Norway.
Crown Prince Harald and Princess Sonja had come to Japan on a 10-day unofficial visit especially for this occasion. The Prince was here once before, during the 1964 Olympics when he represented his country in yachting. This was Princess Sonja’s first visit. Each of the guests appreciated the opportunity to meet the young, handsome and congenial couple.
Both the Chancery and residence were designed by well-known architect Junzo Yoshimura. The Ambassador told me it took exactly nine months to build, which must be some kind of a record. The design utilizes a lot of natural woods and large windows really get the best of the sunlight. There’s also a small, but very attractive, Japanese garden. Pamela Miller, wife of the New Zealand Ambassador, seemed to speak for everyone when she said, “It’s so warm and livable.”
Others in the crowd that day included Dr. Eugene Aksenoff and his wife Keiko and Mr. and Mrs. Jorn Andersen of SAS.
I.S.S. Charity Tea at Spanish Embassy
Friday, Feb. 10, afternoon we dropped in at the residence of Spanish Ambassador and Mrs. Jose Aragones, getting there just in time to catch what my grandmother would call the “tailend” of the I.S.S. Charity Tea. It had been a busy day for those involved and since most of the more than 300 ladies had left, we got to sit down, relax and have our tea and cookies with three of the prime movers of that successful project Monica Aragones, Yoshiko Morita and Betty Mosca:
“Everything was sold.” Mrs. Morita happily commented; “the cakes, the Spanish souvenirs…everything.” Betty told us how everyone had really pitched in and helped. “All the ladies—and they included doctors, dentists and wives of some of Japan’s most important men—were out in the kitchen washing dishes, cleaning up and really working together,” she went on to say.
Mrs. Aragones had to get ready for a blacktie dinner at the Italian Embassy that evening so we left about 5. Kudos to all the ladies who worked so hard to make that worth-while project so successful.
Paraguayan Music Concert at Yubin Chokin Hall
On Tuesday the 14th we headed for Yubin Chokin Hall for a Paraguayan music con-cert. The artists from Paraguay were four young men who formed a group called Los Gomez and vocalist Johny Monte. Johny had won a gold medal at The World Pop Song Festival in Tokyo in ’77 and by the looks of the crowd, he and Los Gomez really have a lot of Japanese fans.
Our hosts that evening were Paraguayan Ambassador and Mrs. Marcos Martinez Mendieta. Others who came for the concert included Nicaraguan Ambassador and Mrs. Julio Gutierrez, El Salvadorean Ambassador and Mrs. Gregorio Contreras, Portuguese Ambassador and Mrs. Pedro Madeira de Andrade, Chilean Ambassador and Mrs. Jacobo Neumann, Honduran Ambassador and Mrs. Cesar Mossie and David and Pauline Herpy (he’s with the U.S. Embassy).
We could only stay for the first half of the program which was unfortunately pretty much monopoloized by the Japanese mistress of ceremonies. We really dug the Paraguayan music we did hear and wish we could have stayed on for the second part of the program which everyone told us later was by far the best half. We hope to have a chance to see the group again next time around.
Dinner for Egyptian Delegation hosted by Ambassador Khalek
From the concert we headed for the Aobadai residence of Egyptian Ambassador and Mrs. Mohsen Khalek where the ambassador was hosting a dinner party in honor of AS. Megahed, Egypt’s Minister of Transportation, Communications and Maritime Transportation, and his delegation.
It was a stag affair with some of Japan’s most important men in the field of communications. These included Masaaki Yamamoto, President of Oki Denki K.K.; Masashi Kawai of Kokusai Denshin Denwa K.K., and Katsumi Soyama, Executive Vice President and Director of Nippon Electric Co. (NEC).
Other guests included Tunisian Ambassador Habib Ben Yahia, Moroccan Ambassador Abdeslam Tadlaoui and Sudanese Ambassador El-Baghir Abdel Mutaal. Another out-of-town guest was very personable—and from what I heard very successful—young businessman Mohamed M. Nossier. He said, “Look me up when you’re in Cairo,” and I plan on doing just that.
I also enjoyed meeting and talking with Ahmed H. Nashed who was posted in Tokyo recently and is First Secretary at the Egyptian Embassy. Prior to Japan, he’s had assignments in Cyprus, Tanzania and Abu Dhabi. It was an interesting evening with interesting people.
Special Decorations for Satoshi Sumita from the Peruvian Government
February, the 15th, attended a special reception hosted by Peruvian Ambassador and Mrs. Cesar Espejo-Roinero. The occasion was the awarding of two special decorations from the Peruvian Government by the Ambassador to Satoshi Sumita, President of the Export-Import Bank of Japan, and S. Hogen, president of JICA.
For the special evening Mrs. Espejo-Romero (Wally) wore a chic black dress with silver accessories. Mrs. Sumita wore a purple floral print kimono with a gold obi while Mrs. Hogen wore a light purple kimono with a silver obi. Black seemed to be the favorite of the western ladies there that evening. Martha Fragnio, wife of the Argentine Ambassador, wore a midi-length dress with all black and gold accessories; Maria Pastusznyski wore a black dress and interestingly mixed gold and silver accessories while Perla Nakasone wore a long black skirt with a silver lame jacket.
After the decorations were awarded, Sumita-san struggled through a short thank you speech in Spanish. Everyone appreciated his efforts. Others in the crowd that evening included Polish Ambassador and Mrs. Stefan Per-kowicz. We hadn’t seen them since the International Ballet Concours and were happy to have a chance to congratulate them. Their dancers won one of the prizes in the competition. We also enjoyed talking with Carlos A. Yrigoyen, second secretary at the Peruvian Embassy. His girl friend, Sachie Nakamura who works for VARIG Airline, has to he one A the most attractive women I have seen. Perhaps it all has o do with yoga; she told us the attends yoga classes on a regular basis.
Opening Reception for Annual Festival from Finland
February, the 15th, we went to the Imperial Hotel and up to the Rainbow Room where Ichiro Inamaru was hosting a reception for the opening of the annual Festival from Finland. “The Festival of the Midnight Sun” has been one of the most successful hotel international festivals and after sampling the food, seeing the fashions and exhibits, and thoroughly enjoying the entertainment, it was easy to see why.
Chef Osmo Norha of the prestigious Polar Hotel chain had been flown in especially for the Festival and supervised the preparation of the bountiful buffet which includes Karelian stew, Noisettes of Reindeer (kept thinking of Bambi, but ate it anyway), and Finnish Borsch.
Finnish singer Monica Aspelund is a knockout who really knows how to belt out a number, whether it be Finnish or one of the top tunes on the international hit parade. It was an interesting, lively crowd that evening and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as we were.
In the crowd Mr. and Mrs. Shig Fujita, Sandi and Sei-chan Mori, Roy Honda and Holli Ferretti. We really enjoyed meeting Masaki Morita, a young Japanese designer and his wife Marjatta who is with the Finnish Embassy. I also enjoyed talking with Veijo Jokiranta who’s regional manager for Japan for FINNAIR.
It was a great evening of good food, top entertainment and nice people. Our sincerest thanks to Finnish Ambassador Osmo Lares and his wife Kaija for the invitation and to the Imperial and Ichiro Inamara for their hospitality. The “Festival of the Midnight Sun” runs through Mar. 22. Lunch is just Y3,500 and dinner 15,000, all inclusive.
Mid-day Reception at Chilean Embassy
On Friday the 17th we started out early at a mid-day reception at Chilean Ambassador and Mrs. Jacobo Neumann’s residence. The occasion was a decoration ceremony in which Ambassador Neumann decorated Motozo Hattori and Takeshi Kurose for their many contributions towards promoting cultural and economic relations between Japan and Chile. Hattori-san is the former president of Kawasaki Lines and president of the Nippon-Chilena (Japan-Chile) Society. Kurose-san is general manager of Kawasaki Lines and the Secretary-General of the Japan-Chile Society.
Guests that day included top Japanese government officials and businessmen. I especially enjoyed meeting and talking with Takeshi Naito, director-general for Central and South American Affairs for the Gaimusho. Jose Miguel de La Cruz, third secretary and consul at the Chilean Embassy, told us he’ll be leaving Japan in April for a new assignment in Bolivia. All his friends at Clark Hatch’s and around town will really miss him.
Ho-o-No-Ma Grand Banquet Hall opening ceremony at the Tokyo Prince Hotel
Well, after the Chilean reception, we headed for the Tokyo Prince Hotel and joined about 5,000 other people at a reception the Tokyo Prince Hotel held to celebrate the opening of their new Ho-o-No-Ma Grand Banquet Hall.
This just had to be one of the biggest, grandest get-togethers most of us had ever seen, and it really is going to be difficult to “outdo” this one. The huge room (it can accommodate 3,000 and they came in two waves that day), the lavish layout, the service and the organization of the whole promotion has to be seen to be believed. Cityblock-long tables groaned under international culinary delights that were as pleasing to the eye as they were to the palate . . . lobster, stuffed quail, escargot, roast beef, Peking duck, turkey, pheasant, a wide variety of Chinese dishes, sushi, sashimi, etc. etc. etc.
The guests included an interesting mix of people from politics, the diplomatic corps, the business world and arts and entertainment H.I.H. Prince and Princess Mikasa were there as were US. Ambassador Mike Mansfield, British Ambassador Sir Michael Wilford and French Ambassador and Mrs. Louis Dauge. A really fantastic reception and the Prince Hotel’s new (Tokyo’s largest) banquet facilities couldn’t possibly have been introduced in a grander manner.
JAWS Black and White Ball
Let’s start off this week by going back to Jan. 27 and over to the Tokyo Hilton’s Pearl Ballroom for the Japan Animal Welfare Society’s (JAWS) annual Black and White Ball. Somehow, I had it in my mind the ball was slated Feb. 27, so was quite surprised when Chiye Hachisuka, chairlady of the affair, called me on the 26th and asked if I wasn’t going. I quickly made a few calls and rearranged a few things, then called Chiye back and told her I’d be there. I’m so glad I did . . . . it really has to be one of the finest social events of the year here.
The Tokyo Hilton, working closely with the members of JAWS, as always had gone all out to make everything perfect, and that’s just what it was. The huge room was tastefully decorated, there was a really great (those adjectives again) buffet and the service was excellent. I still don’t know how it all ran so smoothly. It seems it would be an almost impossible task to feed 621 people such a wide variety of both cold and hot international dishes in such a short time. The Hilton’s F & B man Susumu Tanaka and his staff did it, and did it well. I didn’t hear one single complaint all evening.
It was a fashionable gathering and almost everyone went along with the theme of the ball and dressed in either black or white or a combination of the two. Our table was interesting and enjoyed meeting and getting to know Mario and Doris Lopez (he reps a Chilean Shipping Line), Roel and Laraine Hazewindus (he’s with Shell Oil), and John and Lynn Wigton who have just been in Tokyo a few months. John’s sales manager Far East for DuPont.
After dinner there was dancing and this gave us a chance to tablehop a bit. People we enjoyed talking with included British Ambassador Sir Michael and Lady Joan Wilford, Egyptian Ambassador Mohsen and Noha Khalek, Moroccan Ambassador Abdeslam and Zoubida Tadlaoui, Yasuo and Kumiko Hattori, Nobu and Toto Hattori, Hal and Shoko Stockstill, Eric and Anne Marie Smulders, Cork and Mary Alexander and Paul Hughes and Jessica Wirstrom.
Guido and Lore Gandino were there and she was very busy selling raffle tickets. Agnes Barker and Marita Pastuszynski looked lovely in all-white and Joan Itoh glittered in black sequins.
Showtime, three of Tokyo’s best . . . Jerry Ito, Dolly Baker and Joan Shepherd took turns belting out with their best. After the show we went out in the hall to congratulate them, and ran into many other friends who were taking a break from the excitement of the evening. These included Dick Otomo (Poloroid’s Prez) and his talented actress wife Yoshimura Marie, and Hiroshi and Mayari Ishibashi (Bridgestone). Karl and Noko Hansen joined us to congratulate Jerry, Dolly and Joan.
We were really happy to learn that Joan and her husband Sen Masao had been presented with an award earlier that evening for Japan’s best TV commercial of last year. Back into the ballroom and danced a bit to the Los Novios, group who really has the Latin beat down pat and a singer who could out-octave Yma Sumac. I heard someone shout my name, went over to the table and was really surprised to see pop singer “Pinky” (Yoko Kon). I haven’t seen her for about five years and the girl’s grown into a real knock-out. Later in the evening she sang a couple of numbers with Los Novios. About 2:30 a.m. the crowd was thinning out and had a chance to talk with two of the men who worked very hard on making the Black and White Ball such a success: Loy Weston, president of Heublein International, and John David Read, new JAWS vice chairman and general manager of Rolex Watch Centre. John’s been busy. He was presented with the O.B.E. by Queen Elizabeth Aug. 2 last year and recently returned from his first trip to Australia which he describes “as quite a country.”
In and Around Tokyo
Just a few days before I left, Yurii K. Totrov of the Soviet Embassy had called to invite me to a reception his embassy was having Feb. 23, the celebration of the Foundation , of the Soviet Army. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there, but my congratulations and thanks for the invitation.
That same evening US. Ambassador and. Mrs. Mike Mansfield had invited me to their residence where they were having a reception in honor of visiting Florida Governor Ruben Askew. There’s a great deal of trade between Florida and Japan, and when I talked with Mrs. Mansfield later she told me many top Japanese government officials and businessmen came to the reception to meet the governor.
The Mansfields have really been busy. The Ambassador’s been back to the U.S. on official business three times al-ready this year. On one of his trips to Washington, Robert Strauss threw a party for him. That evening our capital city had one of its worst blizzards ever (“It took Mike two hours to go 10 blocks,” Mrs. Mans-field told me). Nevertheless, 49 Senators got out and braved the weather to honor a man they greatly admire. Mrs. Mansfield’s been busy too . . . taking care of her own and some of the Ambassador’s duties while he’s gone. Right now she’s really looking forward to the visit of their daughter Anne and 4%-year-old granddaughter Caroline’s visit here.