It’s hard to believe that this is the last Weekender issue in 2009, Christmas will be here in a matter of days, and we’re about to enter 2010, the year of the tiger. The city government, hotels, malls, restaurants and most businesses started their Christmas/New Year’s decorating before Thanksgiving, and have really come up with some original, colorful seasonal ideas. Check them out. It’s also a time to look back, thank someone up there for your blessings, make a few positive New Year’s resolutions, and have high hopes that things will get better for everyone on this old earth of ours. On a more personal note, I want to extend my sincerest thanks for your readership, loyalty, and most of all, friendship. I’d also like to wish you and your loved ones a wonderful holiday season and all the best in 2010.
Kudos to TIFF Organizers and Staff
Once again, my sincerest congratulations to Tom Yoda and all the hard working people that made the 2009 Tokyo International Film Festival the big success that it was. I didn’t have the time to see many of the great films I had hoped to see, but I really enjoyed both the opening and closing parties, which gave me the opportunity to meet stars, producers, directors and others working in the film industry from all over the world. I also enjoyed all the extras, like the fun, trendy, packed club night that PR/marketing guru Martin Webb of Marc Jacobs Japan hosted at the TIFF movie cafe in Roppongi Hills. In talking with Yoda-san I learned that he and many of his associates are already hard at work on next year’s TIFF. Those people just never slow down.
Min On Concert
It was more good international entertainment at
Min On Concert Association’s Mini All Stars from Haiti performances in 14 cities in Japan. This was Min On’s first in a new series of concerts, entitled The Caribbean Musical Cruise. The ten extraordinary Haitian musicians and singers had the audience at Nakano Sun Plaza standing up and moving to the music for most of the show
Argentine Wine Tasting
It was a glamorous night of tango, interesting people, and the best of Argentine wines when Argentine Ambassador Daniel Dziewezo Polskr, along with his country’s top wine companies, hosted the special event. My longtime Montenego friend Djuro Joksimovic was there and I really appreciated him introducing me to top soccer coach Zdravko Zemunovic.
German Reunification Day Celebration
The weather wasn’t all that great, but that didn’t stop the many friends of German Ambassador Hans Joachim Daerr and his wife Alexa who filled the embassy and its spacious gardens to congratulate the popular couple on Reunification Day, and at the same time say sayonara. After a little over three years in Japan, they would be returning home to Berlin. What made it even more special was that same day, Alexa, who’s French, and one of her best friends, Christine Faure, wife of the French ambassador, were both celebrating their birthdays. Special guests included visiting minister president of Baden Wurttenberg and Mrs. Gunther Oettinger, who added some of their homeland’s culture to the evening through several guests in carnival style costumes, music and special foods from their part of Germany. It all added color and fun to the already special celebration. Speaking of food, the quantity, quality and variety of German food at the reception had to be seen and tasted to be believed. It really was a very special evening in every way, perfect for the occasion. I might add that, like everyone who has the privilege of knowing them, I will really miss Hans and Alexa.
South African Musical Umoja
I love broadway shows and I’ve seen just about all the great ones in the Big Apple, London’s West End, and here in Tokyo. These include South Africa’s Ipi Tombo and Kwa Zulu. Still, I can honestly say the South African musical Umoja, which I saw here recently, was one of the best ever. The story followed the country’s history, and was dynamic and colorful from the opening tribal numbers with drums, shields and spears to the moving gospel songs to the women in trendy disco fashion doing their own thing to a song titled Shake Your Money Maker. Thanks to South African Ambassador Gert Grobler, I got to know the cast at a party for them he hosted at his embassy. I got to know them even better when I invited them all to the New Lex, where they sang, DJed, danced, and yes, shook their money makers. They know how to party and were there all night. I really found it gratifying when many of them who came over to me and the club manager Masudasan actually had tears in their eyes when they thanked us for the great time. They are such good people, and I really hope they’ll be back in 2010.
Talk about coincidences. I was sitting on my waterbed knocking out this column and that wonderful new TV commercial on South Africa that shows all kinds of people dancing like they’re playing soccer came on. It’s fun, and really great promotion for the 20l0 soccer World Cup that will be held there next year.
F1 Drivers Party in Tokyo
This was the third year in a row that Ceremony Corp. president Tsukasa Shiga sponsored several nights of parties for visiting F1 drivers at the New Lex. Shiga has long been a fan of the racing sport, since his days at St. Mary’s. He knows and is friends with all the drivers, and was recently at the race in Abu Dhabi. Thanks to Tsukasa I’ve had the privilege of getting to know many of the world’s top car racers, and I’m happy to say, fame and money aside, they are all in all a nice bunch of guys. They, I might add, really do know how to party and enjoy life. F1 world champion Jensen Button was in town recently. I heard he was doing a series of commercials for a health water company. It was nice having him and his fiancee, fashion model Jessica, drop by the club; they’re a good looking couple.
People & Happenings
I’ve known the Backstreet Boys for a long time, and I really admire the guys and their ability to keep coming out with good music and selling out concerts all over the world. They were here not long ago to promote their new CD This Is Us. Check out their new vampire-themed video—it’s good. I partied with the guys over in Roppongi for three nights, and we got Nick Carter in the sound booth to DJ and even sing a bit. Creative Man productions is bringing the boys back in February for a series of concerts in Japan. I hope you can catch one of their shows. The timing was right, as former Backstreet Boy Kevin Richardson, who was with the group for thirteen years, was also in town performing as the shifty lawyer in the Broadway musical Chicago. He’s now into songwriting and performing in musicals. I enjoyed sharing the talented man’s birthday with him and the cast of Chicago at the Lex. It was also great seeing Carol Wood again. The great singer (of Blues in the Night and Chicago) is a showbiz legend
The Hilton Tokyo has just been awarded a star in the 2010 Michelin Guide for its excellent French restaurant, Pergolese. At the same time, congrats to the hotel’s GM Christian Baudat’s daughter Erina, who just celebrated her 13th birthday. Also congrats to PR expert Elizabeth Hildebrand, who recently celebrated her 30th birthday with friends at a party at Fiat Cafe on Aoyama-dori.
If you have time, drop by the Tolman Collection Gallery and pick up a rare print by the late and great Finnish artist Clif Karhu. Tolman also has Karhu’s legendary calendars, which make great gifts. I’m sure you’ll want one for yourself as well. For more information check www.tolmantokyo.com. National Azabu Supermarket is donating 100 percent of hand woven Deshi Bag sales to support scholarships at Asian University for Women (AUW) in Bangladesh. AUW’s mission is to educate young women of high ability and potential in under served communities in South and South east asia and the Middle East. AUW seeks to empower its students and cultivate generations of women leaders.