November was National Indian Heritage week in the good old USA, and really I wish I could have gone back to Arizona where I lived for three years to take part in many of the special events to celebrate the occasion.
My major at Arizona State University was anthropology, and I spent considerable time living with several different Southwestern tribes, the Navajos, Hopis, Pima, Papagos, Apaches, etc. Believe me, I spend a lot of time reminiscing about all my marvelous experiences during my time in Arizona, New Mexico, California and Utah.
My great grandmother was a full-blooded Cherokee Indian and passed away in her 90s after falling out of a tree she was trimming. During my university days, I was adopted into two tribes, the Hopi and the Yaqui, who came up from Mexico and had a village outside of Phoenix. Looking back, I marvel and am so thankful for the awesome times I had at the annual Pow Wow in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Gallup New Mexico Ceremonials and the Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City. My adoption into the Hopi tribe gained me entrance to all of their many ceremonies and festivals, including the awesome snake and kachina dances in their villages on three mesas in northern Arizona. I also remember endless nights in the desert dancing in the Navajo social dances.
Here in Japan, the master bedroom in my apartment is like an Indian museum, with paintings, pottery, Hopi baskets and wooden kachina dolls, Navajo dreamcatchers, beadwork, bon chokers, shields and spears, and a nice collection of silver and turquoise — mostly Navajo — jewelry. Sometimes I wonder how I ever got all this stuff to Japan. I spent much of my leisure time in November checking out photos of my Arizona years, recalling memories that the room decor brought back to me and listening to music on CDs like the Black Lodge Singers, Thunder Magic, Navajo Chants, Squaw Dance Music and The Best of Pow Wow music. Once again, what great memories.
I have kept my relationship with many of my Native American friends and still try and get back to as many of their annual ceremonials as possible. Just a few years ago I went to Gallup, New Mexico for their August Inter-tribal Ceremonials. Thanks to Isetan Department Store I was at one time able to bring a group of young Indian dancers from St. John’s Indian School, a mission school I worked with outside of Phoenix, to Japan to do several days of performances at the store’s rooftop summer festival. That was not only gratifying, it was really fun. Well, enough blasts from the past, let’s move onto our city’s always busy social scene.
Culinary paradise at the Park Hyatt
It was first class all the way at the event “A Taste of Park Hyatt” which was held in the world famous New York Grill on the 52nd floor of Tokyo’s prestigious Park Hyatt in Shinjuku. That evening 30 chefs from Park Hyatts the world over had gathered to prepare a feast of true culinary art that had to be seen and tasted to be believed. It was a super cool, wonderful evening that gave me the opportunity to see a lot of longtime friends and make some new ones as well. It was really nice seeing senior VP of operations David Udell. He used work for Hyatt in Japan, has been a long time friend and always goes out of his way to make me feel important. Following Japanese tradition, each guest was given a gift when they left. What I thought was a cake turned out to be 24 chic coupons, each good for a two-night stay at a Park Hyatt in about every major city in the world. There were also coupons for dinner for two at each of the hotels’ best restaurants. That my friends, and I’ll use the words again, is real class.
Ceremony hosts party for F-1 drivers at the New Lex
Ceremony president Tsukasa Shiga is a real fan of Formula 1 racing and, for the fourth year in a row, he hosted a party after the race for the drivers and their friends, which, of course, included many Japanese and international fashion models at the New Lex. A half a dozen of the racers and many of their fans got to the club about midnight and partied on until the early AM. This was the first time one of the world’s greatest athletes, driver Lewis Hamilton, attended the Tokyo celebration and, happy to hear, he was really down to earth, mixed with the crowd and had a good time. Other sporty figures at the party included Yomiuri Giants pitcher Seth Greisinger and Seibu Lions shortstop Hiroyuki Nakajima. Shiga was able to get to the next race in Abu Dhabi and stayed at the new Armani Hotel in Dubai, which he said is really chic.
Bulova Watch hosts launch and thanks reception
Bulova VP Eric Hoffman flew in to join Bulova’s Japan GM Hiroyuki Baba in hosting a launch and thanks party for their valued partners here. They chose Ark Hills as their venue, and the evening’s program included a juggling performance by talented bartender Shoko Tomita, a live-painting session by Shuko Tsuchiya and music by DJ Taku. Bulova has a rich history of 135 years and a tradition as being a leader in design, and their latest creations really look good. It was a lively, laid-back evening, thanks to Elizabeth Hildebrand who was working for Ogilvy at that time. Recently got an e-mail from her regarding her changing jobs. We wish her all the best.
Colorful Colombia festivals at Hibiya Park
Colombia, unlike most countries who have their annual culinary and cultural festivals at Yoyogi Koen, held theirs in Hibiya. It was a dynamic event with an energy-packed crowd enjoying the Colombian food and drinks, the butt-shaking music, and fun, fantastic dancing. Our Latin friends really know how to move and really get into it. I’ve been listening to the CDs a couple of the Colombian bands gave me almost every day since.
David Foster and Friends Hitman Concert
Happy to see that friends in showbiz promotion are doing well. Kyodo’s Al Arashida really gave the two days of full-house audiences at the A hall in Tokyo International Forum a great night of marvelous music by noted composer/musician/singer David Foster and a group of his talented friends. They included Nat King Cole’s daughter Natalie, the Grammy Award-winning songwriter; “The Canadian Tenors” group; Peter Cetera; and 18-year-old Filipino singer Charice Pempengco, who has appeared on Oprah, guest starred on Fox TV’s Glee and had a number one hit with “Pyramid” on Billboard’s Dance Charts.
Thanks to Kyodo’s generosity and hospitality we got to meet and mix with all the performers at an after party in the forum. I especially enjoyed talking with Natalie. I was a good friend of her father’s right-hand man Sparky, and learned he was also an important man in helping raise Natalie. Sparky was a great guy with endless tales of his travels with King Cole. Robby Wada, who has a wonderful homemade cake factory/shop near the Sanno Hotel and is also a promoter was there, told me he’s auditioned 150 Japanese male singers and plans on making a group here like the Italian Pop phenomenon Il Divo. Sounds like a smart idea.
Bill and Charo Ireton were there with three of their five kids, Matthew, Roberta and Edward. Roberta and Matthew liked the show so much that they went the next night as well, and as I mentioned in my last column, he got to sing in front of 5,000 people. It couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy. I’m sure you’ll be hearing a lot about him in the near future.
Tyler Foundation charity party at Oakwood Midtown
Oakwood Midtown is proof positive of why Oakwood is the most trusted name in serviced apartments worldwide. I’m always happy to see friends use the luxurious lounge and food and beverage facilities for worthwhile events. On Sept. 29, the Tyler Foundation had a successful evening and raised a considerable amount to help less fortunate children in Hawaii. Former sumo champ, Konishiki, now all around entertainer, was guest of honor and sang a couple of his own compositions. He’s a good musician and a good man. Congratulations to all.