with Bill Hersey
Even with the super hot weather and so many people out of town for much of August, old Edo stays busy. There have been a lot of stars here with Paramount, Sony and Warner Brothers to promote the major distributors’ summer releases and, Creativeman brought in a long list of the world’s top musicians and bands for the huge Summer Sonic festival. I heard that the Fuji Rock festival attracted a record crowd this year, and there have been a dozen or so smaller music festivals (reggae, Hawaiian, Brazilian, Cuban, etc.) as well. In addition to all that, there are several traditional events that include almost a week off for obon, during which time our Japanese friends pay their respects to friends and relatives who have passed away. On the more colorful side, Japan has some of the most spectacular fireworks shows in the world. If all goes as planned, I’ll view the Sumida River fireworks from my friend Tsukasa Shiga’s four bedroom Italian yacht at a prime spot under the Rainbow Bridge. That, my friends, is an awesome experience. Tokyo always has so much to offer, and I do hope you and yours enjoy some of the many things there are to do here during late August and early September.
After almost ten years of driving my nearly 14-year-old red Beamer convertible all over Tokyo, I followed my friends’ advice and changed cars. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my BMW, but as with most cars after too many years, things started to happen and maintenance costs just got to be too much. I needed a change, and I really appreciated several friends going out of their way to try and find something that I thought fit my image and that I could afford. One of our city’s most reliable used car dealers, Mick Lay, showed up at my house in a silver BMW convertible one morning. It was nice, but somehow just wasn’t what I wanted. I’m glad I waited, as Mick kept looking and showed up a week later in a beautiful, shiny, silver Toyota Soarer. The car is in mint condition and has an all red leather interior, a metal roof that goes down, and all kinds of fun gadgets (parking sensors, a navigation system, CD and MD players, etc.). The 4.3 liter engine is quiet and powerful. I know that Toyota, like many other car companies, has had problems, but I do feel they were really ahead of the times when they designed and manufactured the Soarer. I love my car and thank Mick for his time and effort on my part. He even got me my old license plate number, 77 77, and I know that wasn’t easy.
The Last Airbender Party
A star studded crowd showed up at the New Lex to meet actor Jackson Rathbone and director M. Night Shyamalan, who were in Japan with Paramount to promote the film The Last Airbender. Both of the special guests were really down to earth, outgoing and fun. Guests there that night included pop star Jin Akanishi, who has left Johny Jimusho’s group Kat-Tun and is pursuing a solo career. His recent concert in LA drew in 2000 fans, and in September he’ll be doing concerts in about eight cities across the US. I’m happy to see him doing so well. He’s a talented, hardworking, nice guy who deserves his success. Jin’s younger brother Leo, who’s a film and stage actor, is also a great guy. My thanks to Paramount’s inomoto-san, who helped us put the fun and interesting evening together.
Sayonara to the Argentine Ambassador
After six years in Japan, another popular couple, Argentine Ambassador Daniel Polski and his wife Norma, have returned home to beautiful Buenos Aires. Prior to their departure they hosted their country’s national day celebration, as well as an exciting sayonara party that featured live Argentinean music and dance. This included sexy, sultry tango and dynamic gaucho dances. The Polskis kept very busy while they were in Japan. The ambassador had all his official duties, and Norma, who was involved in all kinds of charity activities, served as president of ILBS for one term. I really hope to visit these good friends in Argentina in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, I wish them all the best back home.
Senegalese National Day Celebration
For their last big party in Japan, Senegalese Ambassador Gabriel Sar and his wife Christine went all out to make their national day and sayonara party a very special event. In addition to being Senegal’s 50th anniversary, it was also the 50th anniversary of the country’s diplomatic relations with Japan. The popular couple spent nine years in Japan, and recently returned home,where Gabriel will go into private business. Many of the Sars’ friends wore beautiful national costumes that day and really made it a colorful event. The New Otani food and beverage department had worked with the Senegalese embassy chefs,and the bountiful buffet included many African specialties. The Sars are very special friends who always went out of their way to make sure I was invited to many entertaining African events. Like all who knew them, I will really miss this special couple.
South Africa Japan Celebration
As at any South African happening, there were a lot of energetic song and dance performances at the beautiful Meiji Kaikan when South African Ambassador Gert Grobler and his staff hosted a lively and totally enjoyable celebration on the occasion of South Africa’s 100th anniversary of diplomatic relations withJapan. One of the highlights of the program was Gert’s very inspirational speech about his country, the World Cup, and the many changes going on in South Africa today. The buffet was excellent, and an exhibition of South African products set up at the entrance to the venue was very interesting. Members of the South African chamber of commerce all joined in making the party the big success that it was. It was also great seeing top musician Sadao Watanabe there. He’s visited South Africa often, and the country, its people and music have influenced the work of Japan’s legendary saxophone player.
It was really nice running into Regina Doi, Sister Mila and Sandra Mori at the Hilton Tokyo after their recent lunch there. It was a sayonara for Sister Silva, who will be returning to the Philippines after 40 years in Japan. She was with the St. Ignatius Church here for 25 of the 40 years, and will always be remembered for her kindness, help and service. All the best to her back home.
When I was at the Irish ambassador’s residence recently, his wife Margaret, who’s really a special lady and a special friend, told me that another special lady, Sister Jennie O’Sullivan, will be returning to Ireland after 75 years in Japan. I’m happy to report that she is still very genki, and keeps busy doing good things for others.