I stayed in Manila about ten days. Somehow I managed to get caught between “two pressure zones” and there was more rain than I really needed. The big break came on a four-day cruise on the M/S Dona Montserrat. Just a few hours out of Manila we hit the sunshine and had great weather until we sailed back into Manila Bay four days later. Our stops included the island resorts of Sicogon and Romblon.
There were a lot of parties in Manila while I was there. An especially enjoyable one was sponsored by Air France in the ballroom at the Manila Hilton. The party was to say farewell to outgoing Air France manager Jean Paul Krafft and “mabuhay” to incoming manager Jean Pierre Bourgneuf. The entrance to the ball- room had been decorated to look like the entry on an Air France Concorde, and the ball-room had been set up like a Paris side street, with a dozen or so small shops each serving a different French specialty.
I also enjoyed a party Sarkie’s Tours held to celebrate the opening of its modern offices in the Midtown Plaza Building. Special guests included Mrs. Jose Aspiras, wife of the secretary of tourism. Everyone laughed when the manager of the office told the priest who was officiating not to forget to bless the cashier’s desk and the safe.
On my PAL flight to Manila I met a very interesting young man, Abdulla K. Al Mana, whose father is the minister of health for Qatar. We spent a lot of time bumming around Manila together, and now I plan more than ever to visit his country later this year.
Speaking of Qatar, Ambassador Al-Hajiri here in Tokyo and his wife have a new baby girl. She was born on Saturday, June 10. They hadn’t named her yet when I talked to them, but I’m happy to report mother and daughter are doing fine . . . our congratulations.
As always, when you’re out of Tokyo, you miss many things. This time was no exception. However, Michaela von Habsburg did cover many of the happenings for me and I really appreciate her taking time out of her own busy schedule for that.
Guilliano Gemma in Japan
On Monday, the 1st, we attended a sayonara party at the New Otani for Italian film star Guilliano Gemma. He had just finished three “hard working weeks” of doing commercials for the Trojan menswear line for Daimaru Dept. Stores. I met Guilliano at a party in Rome several years ago and always admire the way he keeps his cool and charm even when he’s exhausted and swamped by fans. I guess it’s all a part of the show business game, but it can’t be easy. After the party we had coffee with him and his manager Matteo Spinola. They left for Rome the next day to negotiate Guilliano’s playing the leading role in a new Mafioso picture.
Le Grand Ballet de L’Opera
May 4 was right in the middle of Golden Week, but Masako Ohya worked right on. That evening she held a press conference and reception for the 100 members of Le Grand Ballet de L’Opera she had brought here. The Concorde room at the Keio Plaza was packed. Most of the diplomatic corps (including some you really don’t see all that often) plus an interesting selection of VIP’s from all walks of life were there. The way people turn out for anything Ohya-san does certainly shows how much they like and respect her. She really is a phenomenon.
The Brazilian Ambassador, Ronaldo, Costa, and his wife, Margarida, were there. He told us they had been doing a great deal of traveling in Japan and really enjoying it. Lady Joan Wilford was wearing a smashing brooch by English designer Andrew Grima. It was an owl’s face made from a natural piece of stone and trimmed with gold and precious stones. She told us that when Queen Elizabeth visited here she gave Grima jewelry to members of the Imperial household.
I was especially happy that evening for the chance to renew my friendship with two of France’s top dancers, Charles Jude and Florence Clerc. I met them here two and a half years ago at the International Ballet Concours. During the reception we saw a film on the recent Ballet Concours. Every time Masako saw herself on the screen (which was quite often) she excitedly exclaimed, “That’s me.” No one wanted to leave, but the troupe, who had just flown in the night before, were tired, so the reception ended about 10 p.m.
Bella Hentsch’s Fashion Gathering
Friday, the 5th, was a holiday (Boy’s Day), but Michaela and I picked up dancer Charles Jude and went over to Bella Hentsch’s apartment, where her friend Amelia Fink was having a private showing and sale of a summer dress collection she had brought in. A fashionable crowd had gathered there and business seemed good. The “lookers, tryers and buyers” included Baby Handl and her sister, Neda Delgado, Sandra Tosi, Anne McCrory, and Yvonne Eluecque and her glamorous daughter, Pascale. Sorry to hear Pascale will be leaving Japan soon. She’s going to Paris for university study. I imagine that’ll break a lot of hearts here in Tokyo.
Going clear back to May 6th, let’s talk about the gala night for the first presentation of Le Grand Ballet de L’Opera at NHK Hall. The mood there that evening was much like that of a Hollywood premiere. As we entered, we were greeted by French Ambassador and Mme. Louis Dauge and Shinzo and Masako Ohya. We moved into the lobby and joined a small group that included seasoned actor Fujiki Takashi, young aspiring actor Taiga Mori of Mifune Productions, Mrs. Saiga, of the Saiga Ballet School, and Roku Hasegawa, the editor of Danceworld.
In a few minutes the special guests of honor, Princess Mikasa, her daughter, Princess Masako, and Princess Chichibu arrived. They were greeted by the Dauges and Ohyas, and then the entire entourage started moving through the lobby to the auditorium. Princess Chichibu spotted Michaela von Habsburg and me, came over and shook hands, and told us how much she had enjoyed talking with us at the ALFS Festival. Talk about graciousness. . . . Then Princess Mikasa and Princess Masako came over and shook hands. We were the center of attention. It was a little embarrassing, but I have to admit we really felt honored by this special courtesy.
The ballet that evening was “Romeo and Juliet.” The sets were mostly black velvet curtains, the costumes colorful and the dancing perfection. During intermission we were invited to join the special guests, who in addition to the princesses included Mr. and Mrs. Junzo Ohnoki (he’s president of the Nihon Keizai Shimbun), French Ambassador and Mrs. Dauge and Thierry and Diane de Beauce, of the French Embassy, in a special room for tea. Shinzo Ohya, who’s 84 and full of energy, introduced us to a friend of his from Osaka, saying, “He’s from a rich family and a patron of my wife’s projects. We need more like him.” The princesses sat with folded hands and smiled through it all. The dancers had curtain call after curtain call that evening (and every performance thereafter), and then there was the usual back-stage get-together for photos and congratulations. Bravo, Masako . . . you did it again.
Reception at the Belgian Residence
Monday, the 8th, and got all dressed up for a black-tie dinner at the Belgian Embassy, but planned a few stops beforehand. We headed for Ginza and the Minami Gallery, where there was a reception for the opening of well-known printmaker Hisao Domoto’s exhibition. Traffic was so bad we had to give up and go on to our second stop . . . Tilly Bassano’s. We did talk with Domoto-san and his wife later in the week and learned they’ll be taking an exhibition to Paris this fall.
We arrived a little late (our apologies) at the Belgian residence, where the guest of honor, pianist Francois Glorieux, was playing for the 34 guests. We waited in the entrance hall until he finished and were then escorted into the large sitting room. Mimi Dehennin came over, greeted us and ordered us a drink. She looked elegant in a long black chiffon dress trimmed in black satin. We were expecting strictly classical music, but Mr. Glorieux plays everything from Beethoven to the Beatles—and plays it well. He’s a composer, too, and after asking the guests to give him five notes, played a beautiful composition utilizing the five notes as the main theme.
After several encores by this gifted man, everyone moved into the dining room. I was really lucky as my place at the table was beside Francois Glorieux, across from his manager. In a matter of minutes we found that we have mutual friends from all over the world. Francois has a marvelous sense of humor and kept us laughing with anecdotes of his many travel and entertainment experiences.
Belgian Ambassador Herman Dehennin made a short speech, thanking Francois and the guests for coming. Mrs. Glorieux, who was an attorney before her marriage, stood and thanked the Ambassador and Mrs. Dehennin for their assistance and hospitality during their visit and tour in Japan.
The dining room glittered under crystal chandeliers. The long table was beautifully decorated with crystal candelabra and bright flowers. There was course after course of food that would satisfy even the most discriminating gourmet. After dinner we mixed with the other guests, who included Peruvian Ambassador and Mrs. Cesar Espejo Romero, German Ambassador and Mrs. Gunter Diehl, Baron and Baroness F.M.L. Van Geen of the Dutch Embassy, Princess Michaela von Habsburg and Nakao Hatano.
Most of the guests left about 11, but we stayed on. I’m glad we did, since Francois was in the mood to play, so he sat down at the piano and played several selections in the different styles of jazz greats. It was a perfect evening in every way. Incidentally, Francois Glorieux’ records are available here in Japan and the two volumes in which he plays Beatles music are great listening.
Le Grand Ballet reception at the French Embassy
Tuesday, the 9th, there was a midday reception at the French Embassy to meet the members of Le Grand Ballet de L’Opera. A huge crowd turned out for this casual, relaxed affair, and it really gave the guests a chance to meet and talk with the talented young dancers. Prominent among the crowd were Dick Otomo, Polaroid’s prez with his actress okusan, Yoshimura Mari, Ichiro Inamaru of the Imperial, the Chick Igayas, the Shigeo Hories and Gabita Gadelius. Mrs. Shoda, the mother of Crown Princess Michiko, was there, elegant and gracious as always. We talked with Leda Tornetta, the wife of the Italian ambassador, and she gave us some bad news and some good news.
The bad was that her personable son, Livio, will be returning to Italy for schooling soon. The good was that her other boy, Marco, will be coming to Japan to study for a few months. Moved over to Francoise Morechand, who tastefully stands out in any crowd. I have to admire Francoise’s courage to wear things new and different . . . that’s what makes a fashion leader.
Naturally, the Ohyas were there, and after Masako had her photo taken with many of the guests—and, I think, all of the dancers—she asked her secretary to bring her a chair, got a plate of food, and reigned over the entire affair not missing a thing.
We followed the French that day and, after leaving the embassy, went down to the Imperial Theater for the “Salon de l’Alimentation Francaise a Tokyo.” The exhibition was organized by Sopexa and featured imported wines, foods and cheeses from France. It was a trade affair, and the many people there included retailers, hoteliers and restaurant owners. Such delicious cheeses, and of course we had to try the wines, which pretty much put me out of commission for the rest of the afternoon.
Woke up early enough that evening to make it over to the grand Czechoslovakian Embassy, where Ambassador Karel Houska and his wife, Stanislava, were hosting a reception to celebrate their country’s National Day. They greeted more than 1,000 guests at the top of the wide stairway leading down into the main reception room. For the occasion Mrs. Houska wore a long turquoise and blue chiffon dress with pearl accessories.
Celebrating Czech National Day
The embassy has been in use since late last year. Since the chandeliers and furniture just arrived recently from Czechoslovakia, there hasn’t been an official opening. Consequently, this was the first time many of the guests had a chance to see the beautiful building. It was designed by Czech architects Ivan Skala and Miroslav Louda and is a tasteful blend of white marble, polished wood and stainless steel.
The crowd included most of the diplomatic corps, top Japanese government officials and people from the international business world. Keisuke Arita was there, as was Ambassador Nakashima who’s Director General of Protocol for the Gaimusho.
During the course of the evening I had the opportunity to meet recently arrived Tanzanian Ambassador Ahmed D. Hassan (I had worked with his wife at the Afro Arab Ladies Culture Day program), the new Ethiopian Ambassador Afework Atlabachew and Mrs. Atlabachew, and the new Cuban Ambassador and Mrs. Guerra M. Enchero. Another very interesting, outgoing man I talked to for the first time was Henry Honda (they’re all in the newspaper biz) who’s managing director of the Nihon Kogyo Shimbun. He lived in the Big Apple for several years and has a very international outlook.
The reception was catered by the Czechoslovakian restaurant Castle Praha and the “Grand Manager” Ing. Valek Josef had prepared a marvelous buffet of Czechoslovakian specialties. Everyone had to try everything.
Guests were coming and going all evening, so Ambassador and Mme. Houska never did get the chance to come down and enjoy their own party. It was a super celebration of their National Day . . . our congratulations.
Welcome Reception at Dutch Embassy
Started out early Wednesday, the 10th, at a reception that recently arrived Dutch Ambassador Johan Kaufmann was holding at the embassy residence to celebrate the birthday of HM Queen Juliana. It was a stag affair for diplomats and Japanese dignitaries. The Ambassador and Mrs. Kaufmann had held receptions for the Tokyo and Yokohama Dutch communities in late April. Prior to their assignment here Ambassador Kaufmann served at the U.N. in New York.
It had rained earlier and the garden was beautiful. One of the embassy staff told us that there’s a ghost living in the garden. Doug and Vivienne Kenrick were there, and I remember that they had a “ghost and her dog” in the big house they used to live in. On the livelier side, Soviet Ambassador Dmitrii Polyanskii proudly presented his new card to me . . . one side was in Japanese and the other in Russian, and I can’t read either. I also enjoyed talking with Mexican Agricultural Counselor Dr. Adrian Wences Carrasco. I heard from the Mexican ambassador he has quite a singing voice and hope to hear him one of these days.
Sampling Arabian hospitality at U.A.E. Embassy
That evening we went to the home of our dear friends, United Arab Emirates Ambassador Ahmed Salim Al-Mokarrab and his wife, Salwa, for a dinner party. Arab hospitality is legendary, as an evening with the Al-Mokarrabs proves why. We had asked if we could bring our friends, Charles Jude and Florence Clerc, two principal dancers from the Opera Ballet.
Salwa had said, “Please do, we’ll be happy to have them.” They had gathered a nice group at their home that evening, including Portuguese Ambassador and Mrs. Pedro Madeira De Andrade, Iranian Ambassador and Mrs. Nasser Majd, Turkish Ambassador and Mrs. Celil Eyiceoglu, Bangladesh Ambassador and Mrs. Mustafa Kamal, Walter and Natalie Ermakoff, the Yoshio Higashiuchis, TMA’s man in Japan, Nick von Saba, and his wife, Adele, and Noha Abdullah. Her husband, the Kuwaiti ambassador, was still in Kuwait on official business.
I enjoyed meeting Ali A. Al-Jafri, who’s manager of the Tokyo office for the Abu Dhabi Gas Liquefaction Co. Ltd. He and his wife have been in Japan just a short time. Salwa had supervised preparation of the buffet, and it was fit for a sheik, sultan or whatever. There was a marvelous selection of Arabian dishes, continental fare and desserts. Throughout the evening the Al-Mokarrabs’ small son, Waleed, was in and out of the living room and seemed to be enjoying the party as much as the guests.
Iraqi Airways Reception
Tuesday, the 22nd, we dashed over to the New Otani where Iraqi Airways was host for a huge reception marking the inauguration of its weekly Baghdad- to-Tokyo service. Special guests included Abdul Karim Nida, president of the State Organization of Iraqi Civil Aviation, and Japanese Transport Minister Kenji Fukunaga.
H.I.H. Prince and Princess Mikasa also took time out of their very busy schedule to grace the affair. They were accompanied by their daughter, Princess Masako. Tables in the huge room were marked for the diplomatic corps, government officials, companies, press and airlines. We got there too late for the buffet of Arabian food, but there were large plates of dates and pistachios on each table.
The program started with a fashion show tracing the history of Iraq through very classic costumes to contemporary styles. The mannequins all had been flown in from Baghdad for the presentation. In talking with the one male model, Basim Jawad, after the show we learned that he had lived in Munich for ten years, and one of his best friends is a very close friend of Michaela von Habsburg . . . small world. Lore Gandino came over and joined us, and the three of them enjoyed speaking German together.
The second part of the program was a fast-paced, exciting show of Iraqi folk dances by the National Troupe for Folkloric and Popular Arts in the Republic of Iraq. It was a well-rounded program that gave many of the 1,000-plus guests their first real look at the culture of the Arab world. Our congratulations to Iraqi Ambassador and Mrs. K. L. Ali on the success of the evening. (Iraqi Air leaves Tokyo for Baghdad every Sunday with one stop in Bangkok.)
Special Reception at the Egyptian Embassy
We arrived at the Egyptian Embassy very late but still had a chance to meet many of the Egyptian ophthalmologists who were here for the international convention. Also on hand was a doctor from the Sudan and several well-known Japanese physicians. All in all, a very international and interesting group. They had finished dinner hours before, but Mrs. Khalek had her staff prepare special plates for us. We enjoyed the hour spent with the Khaleks and their guests. The doctors were leaving for Manila on a early flight the next morning, so the party broke up about 11:30.
Reception at the Argentine Embassy
On May 25 at noon Argentine Ambassador Carlos Jaime Fraguio was host for a stag reception at his chancery to celebrate Argentina’s National Day. It was a beautiful afternoon, and most of the activity was in the garden. The ambassador is a navy man, and the gathering was very colorful, with many of the embassy’s military attaches in full-dress uniform.
There were also many representatives of the Japan Self-Defense Forces. The Fraguios’ son, Martin, is visiting here with a friend. During their stay in Japan they’re keeping up the family tradition—doing a great deal of sailing. Martin goes to school in Argentina.
In and Around Tokyo
Ermakoff’s Dinner Party
On May 24, at a noontime ceremony in his residence, Chilean Ambassador Jacobo Neumann decorated Hisao Makita, president of Nippon Kokan, for Mr. Makita’s efforts in promoting stronger ties between Japan and Chile.
There was another sayonara on the 27th. This one was hosted by Guinean Ambassador and Mrs. Mamady Lamine Conde in their home for Nigerian Ambassador and Mrs. Peter Udoh. The place was packed, but the weather was nice so the Condes were able to use their patio and garden. After a buffet specially prepared by Mrs. Conde, many stayed on for dancing. Quite an evening from what I hear.
Both Carrie Fisher and Mark Hammil are due in during June on a “Starwars” promotion.
On May 29, Jordanian Ambassador and Mrs. Amer Shammout celebrated their National Day by giving a reception at the Imperial Hotel. More than 500 guests joined the popular diplomatic couple for the 32nd anniversary of their country’s independence. The entrance hall was lined with floral tributes to Jordan, and a huge ice carving of the country’s national emblem surrounded by flowers dominated the reception room. Guests included members of the diplomatic corps, government officials and top-level businessmen.
On Wednesday, the 31st, South African Counsel General Carl von Hirschberg and his wife, Mary, held a reception in their beautiful home on the occasion of their Republic Day. This was another crowded party with more than 400 guests. An orchestra played in the garden, and the whole affair was the height of elegance. Among the many guests were Mr. and Mrs. Brian Watkins (South African Airways), Charles and Katy Hagedorn, the Reijiro Hattoris, Mr. and Mrs. Hidesaburo Shoda and the Hideo Kagamis (Gaimusho).
That same evening Brazilian Ambassador and Senhora Ronaldo Costa were hosts for a large reception in the Ho-Oh-No-Ma Room of the New Otani in honor of visiting Brazilian Minister of Planning Senhor and Senhora J. P. Reis Velloso. Many of the same guests attended both the Brazilian and South African parties.