It’s Sunday, the sun’s shining and I want to knock this off as fast as possible and get over to the Hilton pool a few hours. Tonight’s the Tokyo Music Festival and I’m really looking forward to that. Masafumi Watanabe, executive producer of the festival, has brought in some top international talent and it’s bound to be good, although some of the contestants aren’t too happy about cutting their numbers down to exactly the three minutes allowed for each entry. Watanabe is one of those who wields a tremendous amount of power, and my Japanese friends say a nod of his head can mean millions (both in yen and dollars). Watanabe seems to be an important name.
Shin and Misa, who head the Watanabe Production Group, threw a party at their California-style pad the other evening that included some of the world’s top showbiz names as guests. More on this in future issues. Let’s have a look what happened in June.
Tunisia National Day, Celebrating 22nd Anniversary
I flew back to Tokyo from Manila on the 1st, and things went smoothly. That evening I joined many friends at the New Otani Hotel, where Tunisian Ambassador and Mme. Habib Ben Yahia were hosts at a reception to celebrate the 22nd anniversary of the national liberation and independence of the Republic of Tunisia. For the occasion Mrs. Ben Yahia wore a long peach chiffon Tunisian dress trimmed in beads. U.S. Ambassador Mike Mansfield was there (he’s usually one of the first to arrive . . . the other is Soviet Ambassador Dmitrii Polyanskii).
Talked with Ambassador Mansfield, and I was so glad to hear that Mrs. Mansfield is feeling much better now. Mme. Dauge was there representing her husband, French Ambassador Louis Dauge, who was in Paris on official business.
Much of the talk at the party was about everyone’s plans for the summer. Merrick Fowler of American Airlines was leaving soon on a three-week business trip, and Jane Rees was about to take off for Nepal. Egyptian Counselor Ahmed Fond Morsy was happily anticipating a trip back home to pick up his family. He’s been a “bachelor” here for over a year now and is really looking forward to having his wife and children in Japan with him.
The Mexican ambassador, Xavier Olea, has been very busy and told us there’ll be a big Mexican exhibition in Mitsukoshi later this year. Qatar Ambassador Hamad Mansour Al-Hajiri introduced me to his new first secretary, Ibrahim Mohammed Abdul Rahman Ral-Abdulla, who just arrived from Qatar. By the way, Ambassador and Mrs. Al-Hajiri have named their new daughter Maha. It was an enjoyable, relaxing evening . . . our congratulations to Tunisia on its national day.
Italy’s National Day
My schedule was really fouled up on Friday, the 2nd. By the time I got to the office and got my invitation to the midday reception in honor of Queen Elizabeth’s birthday at the British Embassy it was just too late to go. I was really sorry to miss this; it’s always a nice affair.
I did have the chance to congratulate British Ambassador Sir Michael Wilford that evening at the Italian Embassy where Ambassador and Mme. Vincenzo Tornetta were host at a huge reception to celebrate Italy’s National Day. Guests were an interesting mixture of diplomats, government officials, business leaders and art and entertainment personalities. Tables of Italian specialties that included pastas, pizza, salads, and cheeses had been set up in the dining room and on the veranda facing the beautiful embassy gardens. Kudos to the chef . . .
Talk at the party, as at the Tunisian reception, centered on summer travel. Greek Ambassador and Mrs. Jean C. Cambiotis are planning to visit Washington, D.C., and New York (the theater) in July and will spend a month in Greece before returning to Tokyo. Fanny Brie, the wife of German Democratic Republic Ambassador Horst Brie, was really looking forward to her summer holidays back home and has left by now. Mr. and Mrs. Wolfgang Ernst, of the EEC, also plan on spending a month in Europe. Mrs. Ernst will help her daughter prepare for her wedding in the fall.
Japanese guests at the reception included Mr. and Mrs. Hidesaburo Shoda, Prince and Princess Tadateru Konoe, the Reijiro Hattoris, and Ichiro Inamaru of the Imperial Hotel. The reception was scheduled to end at seven, but with the nice weather, the beautiful garden, the interesting people and Italian hospitality, many stayed on much later.
Bill and Mary Jane Sherman Evening Party
On Saturday, the 3rd, I caught the final performance of Le Grand Ballet de L’Opera at Fukumon Hall. They danced “Giselle” and it was excellent. After several curtain calls Masako Ohya joined on stage all the dancers, technicians and everyone involved with the tour. From the ball we headed for Bill and Mary Jane Sherman’s for another kind of dancing at their “Saturday Night Fever” party. Their plush pad was decorated with John Travolta posters, and the sounds of the BeeGees set the mood. Some of the guests were boogieing, others relaxing on the floor, while still others were out in the garden.
Ambassador Mike Mansfield and wife Maureen were there, but they had a heavy schedule that day, so left rather early. Other diplomats included New Zealand Ambassador R. M. Miller and his wife, Pam, and Canadian Ambassador Bruce Rankin and wife Mona. Bruce was going through some wild contortions on the dance floor, so I asked him if it was some new kind of Canadian dance . . . perhaps from the caribou country? “No,” he explained, “I’m just imitating the poses of the statues out in the garden.” You know, he really was.
Everybody took a break from the dance floor athletics long enough to pile their plates from the bountiful buffet, but it didn’t take them long to get back into it again. Later in the evening, a panel of three judges (nobody knew who they were) announced the best dancers, and Seymour Janow and Sheilagh Lebovich were presented rubber disco dolls.
It was really a fun, let-your-hair-down evening. Some of the others who were there to enjoy were Don and Barbara Knode, Jack and Jean Button, Albert and Bobbie Seligmann, Clifton and Nancy Forster, Amity Janow, the Bernie Krishers, and Clinton and Maja Lutkins. Paul and Barbara Penrose were there too, and she looked fine in a bright-red one-piece pants suit she “had knocked out that day.”
Kokusai Ikebana Charity Luncheon
Wednesday, the 7th, joined a group of friends at the Pacific Hotel, where Noriko Ohno was holding her monthly Kokusai Ikebana Charity luncheon. The theme was “Persepolis.” and Badri Majd, wife of the Iranian Ambassador, had worked with Mrs. Ohno in setting up a special program that day. There were two special films on Iran, and after lunch guests had their choice of a wide array of Iranian sweets.
Noha Abdullah, wife of the Kuwaiti ambassador, told us she’ll be leaving for the summer soon. She’ll pick her mother up in Beirut, they’ll visit Paris and then meet the ambassador and the children in London and all go on to Kuwait. The Jordanian ambassador’s wife, Hiyam Shammout, said she’d be leaving for London soon herself. Others there that day included Salwa Al-Mokarrab, wife of the United Arab Emirates ambassador, Najet Ben Yahia, wife of the Tunisian ambassador, Reiko Lysner of Orlane K. K. and Hiroko Matoba of Matoba Pearls. Mrs. Ben Yahia had brought a very special guest, Mounira Zaanouni, the wife of the Tunisian minister of planning. She was in Japan with her husband, who was here on an official visit.
I had a tight schedule that day, so couldn’t stay to watch Mrs. Ohno’s floral interpretations of Persepolis. I’m sure they were beautiful. Before I left, she told me she’ll be going to East Germany in late August on a cultural exchange program.
Gary Kurtz in Tokyo
Tuesday, the 8th was super screwed up. That morning I got a call to please come to a sayonara for Costa Rican Ambassador and Mrs. German Gago at the Sunshine Building in Ikebukuro. I would have liked to see the Sunshine Building and really wanted to say sayonara to the Gagos but at that late notice, there was just no way I could re-arrange my schedule. The party was held on the 58th floor of the Sunshine Building in the Latin American Salon. The Gagos, after three years in Japan have returned to Costa Rica where the ambassador has been assigned to a new post. We wish him our best.
That evening we were invited to Yukiko Hanai’s fashion show at the Imperial Theater, and a reception afterwards. Yukiko was showing her pret-a-porter collection for autumn/winter ’78. We had missed her show in Yokohama a few weeks earlier and really planned to make this one. At the same time Gary Kurtz, producer of “Star Wars,” was arriving in Japan, and we had promised to meet him. The way it turned out we did meet Gary, had dinner with him at Inakaya, and talked about the making of the phenomenal box office hit.
Philippines 80th anniversary
Our Filipino friends here in Tokyo celebrated the 80th anniversary of their independence by hosting a reception in the Grand Palace Hotel. I started out a little early and was stopped for a red light near the hotel when the earthquake hit. The way the car was rocking, thought I was caught in a very strong wind, but realized what it was when I saw everyone looking up at the tall buildings. Later at the party Panamanian Ambassador J. Napolean Franco told us he was on the 58th floor of the Sunshine Building . . . that was quite an experience.
This was the first time we had attended any function at the Diamond Room and were really surprised at its elegance and the high quality of the catering. Philippine Ambassador Carlos J. Valdes, his lovely daughter, Georgina, and the embassy’s minister, Ophelia Gonzales, were in the receiving line. Mrs. Valdes is currently traveling in the U.S. and Europe.
U.S. Ambassador Mike Mansfield and Soviet Ambassador Dmitrii Polyanskii were among the first to arrive. They got together with Cuban Ambassador Jose Guerra Menchero and Ambassador Nobuyuki Nakashima, who’s director of protocol for the Gaimusho, for some light talk. The crowd grew and included most of the diplomatic corps, many Japanese government officials and a potpourri of friends of the Philippines.
I enjoyed meeting Capt. Levy F. Zamora, who’s with the U.N. Command and has served in and shares my love of Zamboanga City in the southern Philippines. Also ran into some other friends from there, including “The Nail Clippers,” four little guys and their sister who are making big news on the TV commercial and show-biz scene here. Later that evening they entertained for the guests. Others in the crowd included Yurii Totrov of the Soviet Embassy, Ahmad Sarkawi, who heads the Malayasian Tourist Office here, and Archbishop Mario Pio Gaspari. It was a splendid party and our sincerest congratulations to the Filipino people on their National Day.
Portugal’s National Day Reception
On Thursday, the 15th, Portuguese Ambassador Pedro Madeira De Andrade was host at a well-attended noon reception to celebrate his country’s National Day. The garden had been covered with a canopy, and there was an excellent buffet that included many hot and cold Portuguese specialties (squid, anchovies, shrimp and cheeses).
It was a stag affair for the ambassadors, counselors, Japanese government officials and businessmen. The Portuguese ambassador and his counselor, Antonio Syder Santiago, greeted guests in the reception room of the residence before they moved out into the garden. The weather was perfect, and everyone appreciated getting outside for an hour or so. Saudi Arabian Ambassador Zein A. Dabbagh was there; he also serves as his country’s ambassador to Korea and has had to spend a great deal of time there lately.
New faces that day included Andras Forgacs, who’s counselor and charge d’affaires for Hungary. Mr. Forgacs had only been here 12 days and is still in the getting-acquainted stage. His family will join him here later. Doug Kenrick told us Miranda is still traveling around Africa. He and Vivienne are spending much of their summer here in Japan. They get to the Hilton pool an hour or so almost every day during the week and spend weekends at their beach house.
It seems everyone is in the holiday mood, and much of the talk at the reception centered on people’s plans for the summer. Most will be leaving by mid-July. Incidentally, if you get to Europe this summer or fall, try to spend at least a few days in Portugal. It’s a lovely country and you’ll be glad you did.
Opening Party for Ristorante Italiano Antonio
That evening Antonio Cancemi and his two sons, Endo and Pietro, held an opening party for the latest addition to their restaurant group, Ristorante Italiano Antonio, in the Hillside Terrace shopping center near Daikanyama Station. Antonio’s in Roppongi has long been a favorite in Tokyo with the foreign community and another in Jiyugaoka is very popular with the young Japanese.
The guests of honor that evening were Italian Ambassador Vincenzo Tornetta and his wife, Leda. Also on hand were their son, Marco, and their house guest, Mrs. Dina Dimattei, visiting here from Brazil. Others in the crowd included Alitalia’s Carlo and Enza Morelli, Isidora. Gullotta, and Enzo Convenevole.
The ristorante is divided into two rooms . . . one is an espresso bar for pizza, pasta and espresso; the other, the dining room, where they have a complete menu of traditional Italian foods. There’s also a large wine cabinet with a fine selection of Italian vintages. Antonio’s newest address is Sarugaku-cho 29-9, Shibuya-ku, in the Hillside Terrace shopping center. The telephone number is 464-6041.
Farewell at the Pakistan Embassy
On the 19th went over to the Pakistan Embassy for another sayonara party. It was given by Pakistani Ambassador Jamsheed Khan and his wife, Diana, to say goodbye to that very popular couple, Shujaat and Atiya Khan, and their two children, Omar and Yasmeen. Mr. Khan has been counselor here since September of 1975. They’re leaving for Dubai, where he’ll be counsel general. We’ll miss them, but are happy for his promotion. It was a crowded party, and some of the Khans’ many friends who were there included Iwao Abe of the Metropolitan Police, Yoshio Higashiuchi, president of the Japan Times, Dr. and Che Chan Plessner (the Khans’ bridge partners), Ken and Joanne Baumann, and Homat Home prez Jiro Matsumoto. The diplomatic corps was well represented by many ambassadors and counselors.
The Markers are happy to have both their daughters home from Vancouver this summer. Niloufer is a journalist and Feroza works as an occupational therapist. At the party we had the opportunity to talk with another personable counselor, Stanojlo GIisic of the Yugoslavian Embassy, and learned that he and his wife, Vera, will be leaving Japan later this summer. They’ve been here more than five years, but he has a new assignment back home. Tokyo’s turnover is tremendous.
It’s Russian Night at American Club
One of the most successful evenings in recent memory at the American Club was enjoyed by a full-house crowd of more than 350 members and their guests in honor of the TAC’s next-door neighbors, the Soviet Embassy. USSR Ambassador and Mrs. Dmitrii Polyanskii were joined by 10 members of their staff and their wives at the club, and were entertained by the crew of the Soviet liner Baikal who played, sang and danced Russian folk songs for more than an hour. The chef at the Soviet Embassy spent a day with the TAC kitchen staff to help prepare a buffet of Russian delicacies. From left at the head table are Jack Shea, Mrs. Oleg Rozanov, U.S. Ambassador Mike Mansfield, Mrs. Polyanskii, TAC President Dick Bush, Mrs. Shea, Mr. Rozanov, Ambassador Polyanskii, Mrs. Mansfield and Mrs. Bush.
In & Around Tokyo
•The Tokyo American Club on its Russian Night on June 9. Everyone I’ve talked to who was there said it was really something very, very special.
•Christina Botorff on her modern dance recital titled “Komaba Anthology 6.” I wasn’t able to make it, but people who did and know much more about dancing than I do said it was excellent.
•Sam Bigombe on his birthday on June 21. This was Sam’s first birthday as ambassador (Uganda) in his, and his wife, Betty’s, and his son, Lubango’s, new home.
•Dru Roberts celebrated her birthday with a boat-load of friends last Saturday night as her boss PR guru Bill Savestrom assembled a group of merrymakers and rented a boat to cruise down the Sumida River in high good spirits.
• Jack Coates and Lee Carpenter of C&C Producduction. They’re here to do a TV documentary on the ACT tour. Jack told me Tokyo also has a great rock production of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” titled “Dreams” by the Dallas Theater Center to look forward to. With the Japan American Trust Fund ($30 million) set up for cultural exchange, it looks as though we may have more cultural events coming this way. Talk about a small world . . . Jack and I both had the same anthropology professor at Arizona State University.
In showing the “Star Wars” group (Mark Hamill, Nancy Hutsen, Gary Kurtz) around town, I got to a few places I haven’t been for quite some time. We ate at both Mon Cher Ton Ton and the Hama Steak House, and the food and service at both were superb. I noticed that Mon Cher Ton Ton has a special weekend dinner for about 5,000 yen and have heard from others that it’s excellent. We also spent considerable time at Castel’s and Fu Fu . . . both top discos and both in the Roppongi Square Building near Roppongi Crossing.
Castel’s continues to cater to the Paris chic-type crowd, but the night we were there Tak Gamo was holding a birthday party for a fashion model and the foreign mannequins there were wonderfully wild on the dance floor. Fu Fu has more the New York-Los Angeles “let it all hang out” mood, and that place really moves. Disco-restaurant-club tycoon owner Reiko Ikeguchi opened another new disco, Samba, in the same building on June 23, and we’ll have a rundown and photos of the opening party coming up soon. There’s also a very funny drag show at a new club, The St. Germain, on the 4th floor of the big brick building right behind Canterbury House, near Roppongi Crossing.