Times are still getting tougher… Times, as we all know, are tough, and probably will get tougher before they get better. Even so, all I can say about old Edo is wow, what a happening city. For the last few months, there’s been a steady stream of interesting people from all over the world visiting here and the social and entertainment calendars are filled back-to-back with all kinds of dynamic events. Highlights for me included setting up a birthday party for Paris Hilton at the New Lex and another party a week later at the club for UK singer Sarah Brightman, holder of 160 gold and platinum records, and her cast and crew of 40. Guests at Paris’s blast included gold medal swimmer Kosuke Kitajima, Australian director Baz Luhrmann, who was in Japan to promote his film Australia for 20th Century Fox, Japanese pop stars The Tubes and Jin Akanishi of Kat-Tun as well as mixed martial arts champ Kid Yamamoto, actor Junichi Ishida, and the producers of the second I Survived a Japanese Game Show reality show that was a big hit in the US; I got to know these guys at the Hilton.
Out and about around the fair city I had a beautiful day on my friend Tsukasa Shiga’s four-bedroom, eighty-foot Italian yacht. I had set up an interview with Konishiki that Shiga was doing for his women’s club magazine. Others there that day included the yacht’s Australian crew, a cameraman, and two secretaries. After the interview, we cruised for about four hours and had a great Italian buffet on board the fantastic ship. It’s nice to be able to put on the ritz once in awhile. I am happy to report that Konishiki, who went from 690 pounds down to 414, really looks and feels great. My only regret that day was that his gorgeous wife Chie couldn’t join us. She was home taking care of their two golden retrievers. It was ritzy as well when entertainment tycoon and leader Tom Yoda let me set up a special private screening of the Oscar-winning film Slumdog Millionaire for Indian Ambassador Hemant Krishan Singh, his super wife Mrinalini, and several of their top staff. The luxurious venue was the screening room of Tom’s company on the 32nd floor of Tokyo Midtown. Many thanks Tom. It was great. I also want to thank the Singhs, who made it possible for Weekender Editor Ulara Nakagawa and myself to have lunch with and interview Vikas Swarup, who wrote the novel Slumdog Millionaire. The book was originally published with the title Q & A and is now a major motion picture. Vikas was in Japan as a guest of Random house/Kodansha, which has published his work in Japanese.
It was a nice evening at the Hotel Okura when the Croatian ambassador and National Tourist Office of Croatia co-hosted a reception to celebrate the first anniversary of the tourist office in Japan. It was unfortunate but Ambassador Drago Stambuk, who was back home on official business, couldn’t return for the reception. He was certainly missed. The Croatian food was excellent, the live music entertaining, and the guests who were, for the most part, travel agents, interesting. Croatia has recently become a favorite destination for Japanese tourists. I once spent ten days there working on PR for a Japanese film being shot on location. Talk about beautiful scenery.
Hilton Tokyo has long been the leader here in hotels sponsoring great international food festivals. The Chile gourmet and cultural promotion jointly sponsored by the embassy of the Republic of Chile and PROCHILE was special in every way. The huge variety of culinary delights created by one of Chile’s top chefs, Matias Paiomo, the tremendous selection of Chile’s top wines, and the colorful Chilean entertainment all added up to a memorable experience…one that further convinced me I’ll have to visit that beautiful country one of these days soon. Music, Dancing, and a New Salon I just heard the song Everything is Beautiful at the Ballet from the musical A Chorus Line. That was certainly true at NHK Hall when Min-on Concert Association sponsored the Hamburg Ballet’s performance of Die Kleine Meerjung Frau (The Little Mermaid). I’ve known the ballet’s director John Neumeier for many years and have had the privilege of seeing many of his works. He’s a true genius in what he does and The Little Mermaid, with its story, costumes, sets, and brilliant dancers was, in every way, entertainment at its best. Kudos as well to the German technicians who made the lighting and staging very special—they really know what they’re doing. After the show I joined the Min-on people and friends from the German Embassy and went backstage to congratulate John. This also gave me the opportunity to see several dancers I know and meet many more for the first time. Talk about talent and beauty from the 17 countries whose dancers belong to the Hamburg Ballet.
A few months ago we helped one of Japan’s top hair stylists, Fumio Kawashima, celebrate his 60th birthday at The Blue Note. A few days ago we joined Fumio, many of his staff, and wall-to-wall Peek-A-Boo hair salon customers and friends at the opening of his new shop on Aoyama Dori. As always with Fumio, the new shop is light and bright with a trendy, friendly, professional staff that goes all out to satisfy their many customers. The new salon across the street from Anderson’s bakery above Starbucks is tastefully equipped with all the latest hi-tech equipment. The chairs for styling and shampooing couldn’t be more comfortable and they do just about everything. There are tables and chairs where you can read, write, or just relax while you are waiting for the dye (or whatever) to work, TV monitors, a fashion library, coffee, tea, and a wide variety of international fashion magazines. I still love his home-like salon behind Benneton on Omotesando, but feel I can safely guarantee satisfaction at any of Fumio’s many salons. For information on making appointments, tel. 03-5466-6311.
Ikebana International Fair
As always, it was wall-to-wall people at the Ikebana Entertainment Fair, which is a very popular annual charity event held at the Tokyo Prince Hotel. I arrived in time for special guest HIH Princess Takamado’s tour of the beautiful exhibition of flower arrangements and the international booths. After this, the Princess joined several of Ikebana International’s officers for the ribbon cutting and opening ceremony. This featured speeches by Tokyo Founding Chapter President Fumiko Misawa and the fair chairperson Dr. Salwa Almahroos. The princess enjoyed the special entertainment that day and helped with the drawing of the airline ticket winner. I was happy to hear the beautiful day with interesting people was all for a good cause (actually several) and that it was a big success—kudos to all concerned. Sayonoras for good friends are never easy, but it was a beautiful party at the Palace Hotel to say goodbye to one of Tokyo’s most popular couples, Moroccan Ambassador Abdelkader Lecheheb and his wife Lamia. After almost six years here they’ve moved to Moscow for Abdelkader’s new posting as his country’s ambassador to Russia. They will really be missed here and we wish them all the best there.