I’ve always been a big fan of Barbara Streisand. Her voice, though, not herpersonality so much. I often sing or hum a few of the lines of one of her biggest hits, People, and really feel the lyrics, “people who like people are the luckiest people in the world,” are so right on. I do realize how very lucky I am to have had the opportunity to have met so many great people from all over the world and from all walks of life. Yes my friends, like you, I really do like people.
As we all know many of our expat friends move around a lot and certainly keep busy. Here’s a few updates on the comings, goings and activities of some good people you might know.
French businessman Stephane Lafay, who I first got to know when he headed Bulgari’s business here, and who a few years ago moved over to another of the world’s most prestigious jewelry companies, Tiffany’s, recently relocated to Hong Kong. He now heads their operations in that part of Asia and I do wish him all the best over there. I’m happy to hear he’ll be visiting Tokyo often. Stephane, by the way, is really into fishing and I always enjoyed hearing about his fishing adventures from all around the world. To his successor here, Daniel Perel, all the best in Japan.
A good friend, the active and creative Fergus Stewart, who was GM of the popular ANA Intercontinental Hotel in Tokyo, has also left Japan. I don’t know his new title yet, but I do know he and his family are settling down in Vietnam and that he has a new executive position with ANA Intercontinental, where he has a major role running several of the hotel chain’s properties over there. I really appreciated Fergus’s friendship, as well as his support of the Weekender and send my thanks and best wishes at the same time. I’d also like to welcome his successor, Canadian, Peter Carmichael, to Tokyo.
Another friend, Maya Osawa, has left her job in public relations at the ANA Intercontinental and is now working for Bahraini ambassador Khalil Hassan. Both are special people who I’m sure will really get along.
I’m happy to report that Dale Toriumi, the outgoing, knowledgeable and always helpful Canadian-Japanese many of you know from the National
Azabu supermarket is back, working at the “Baby National Supermarket” next to Segafredo in Hiroo. The new National Azabu opens in late August but the baby market sells over a thousand of the good things a lot of us shop for; they have great staff too.
Over at the Grand Hyatt, I ran into world famous Hawaiian artist Christian Lassen. He’s famous for his images of sea life, especially dolphin paintings. Christian, with his long blond hair and laid-back islander look and manner, seems to be doing even better (he’s long done well) since his tie-up with Disney. During his stay in Tokyo, he did all his getting around the city in a chauffeur-driven black stretch limo.
Congratulations and domo arigato to HIP Entertainment president Massy Hayashi for packing out Tokyo Dome City Hall for three Lenny Kravitz shows. I’ve known and been a fan of Lenny for years and was happy to see him back in Japan after 14 years. The man looks good, stays cool and puts on one hell’uva show; check out his latest album, Black and White which has great sounds and gives me a really good feeling.
Lenny does an hour of vocalizing before and after each show and, believe me, it has really paid off. I also knew the trumpet player with Lenny as he used to be with the band No Doubt; he told me that the band, with one of my favorite ladies Gwen Stefani, is getting back together for concerts here this fall. I’m really looking forward to that.
As always, it was great having former-Tokyoites Ron and Maria Anderson back in Town. They flew in for the International Ladies Benevolent Society cherry blossom ball and I really enjoyed a couple of coffee breaks with Maria and a dinner with her, Ron and our mutual friend Norman Tolman (pictured on the left here with artist Marcestel Squarciafichi on the far left and Lambrusco Japan Wines director Erice Harison in the middle).
During their ten years in Tokyo, Maria served a year as president of ILBS and, from what I hear, was one of their most popular presidents ever. Knowing her, it’s easy to see why. After Tokyo, they visited a few other Asian cities for Ron’s business, before returning to their home in New York City.
The world lost a master at his craft when world famous hair stylist Vidal Sasoon passed away recently at his home in Los Angeles. Vidal, who was 84, was hairstylist to the stars for years, and was known for his ability as a storyteller and for being a truly nice man.
My friend in Tokyo, Fumio Kawashima, who studied under Sasoon and is known the world over, has seven top hair salons here and employs about 250 mostly young and extremely with-it men and women. Getting your hair styled at one of his Peek-a-Boo salons is like going to a party.
In his book, Vidal has many nice things to say about Fumio, who he said is undoubtedly one of his finest exports and is a brilliant hairdresser and teacher. Vidal also talked about the magnificent hair show Fumio did in Barcelona in 2007. Sasoon will certainly be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing him. I am just sorry he couldn’t come to Japan a few months ago for a big show Fumio and others were hosting in his honor.
That’s lots of people talk so far this column so its time to move on to our city’s busy party scene.
South African Chamber of Commerce party at Midtown Oakwood
Our South African friends are an interesting mix of dynamic people from all walks of life. Guests really enjoyed a laid back evening at Midtown Oakwood, where the food, the ambiance and the people made it a thoroughly enjoyable night. I met a lot of South Africans who all seem so busy with all the changes happening in their beautiful country.
I talked a lot with Chrissi, who teaches children dance and is involved in many worthwhile projects, and Rooibos Marketing’s Clinton Gass, who is always marketing new products from South Africa. Oakwood is a nice venue for just about any event and the staff are always so helpful.
Deutsche Bank Art Fair Tokyo 2012
There were 163 exhibitors at the International Forum this year, in a space twice as big as last year. Norman’s exhibit of abstracts by 99 year old Toko Shinoda (the Empress’ favorite artist) really attracted a lot of friends, including Hanae Mori and her gorgeous granddaughters, Izumi and Hikari, fashion guru, Francoise Morechand and super-chic Dewi Sukarno.
Still on art, I had dinner at dear friend Tsukasa Shiga’s apartment, where his girlfriend, Anna, cooked a delicious Russian meal. Shiga’s really into all kinds of art. His collection includes racing driver’s helmets from his F1 friends and several paintings by top selling young Japanese artists, including Yayoi Kusama, who seems to love polka dots, always wears red and who’s picture you see everywhere.
Brunei Darussalam National Day at the New Otani Hotel
There was a big turnout at Brunei ambassador Mohamad Alias Serbini’s National Day reception at the New Otani. Guests included top Japanese government officials, diplomats and their wives, business leaders and familiar faces from the arts and entertainment world.
All in all, it was a relaxed evening, with interesting people and good food, including some excellent Brunei specialities – many kinds of delicious satay, noodle and meat dishes.
I spent a few days in Brunei several years ago visiting a Gurkha military friend of mine who was living there and do hope I have the opportunity to go again to enjoy its beautiful scenery and tourist attractions.
US Embassy Major League Baseball season opening event
US ambassador John V. Roos and his dynamic wife Susan have to be one of our city’s busiest couples.
One of the highlights of their full schedule recently was a packed midday party they hosted at their home in honor of the opening games of the 2012 Major League Baseball season.
The program opened with a brief speech by the ambassador, who is very knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the sport.
This was followed by short speeches from a few of the sport’s VIPs and the presentation of a personalized baseball jersey to ambassador Roos from the Oakland Athletics.
I enjoyed learning more about one of the Roos’s, and others at the embassy’s, strong interest in and work with the Tomodachi initiative, which supports ongoing recovery efforts in the Tohoku region and is investing in the young people of Japan and the US.
Tomodachi has teamed up with the MLB and to date they have re-equipped youth teams, repaired damaged baseball fields and much more. Plans for the near future include sending nearly 450 students from the disaster-affected area to the US on summer exchange programs this year. For more info check out www.usjapantomodachi.org.
My thanks to baseball guru, Wayne Graczyk, and US cultural attache, Richard Mei, who made sure I met the Major League players as well as the Japanese baseball superstars who were there. It was also nice meeting the Roos’s daughter, Lauren, who was visiting Japan. She’s not only smart and beautiful, she’s a very thoughtful, caring young lady who has chosen nursing as her career.