No snow as yet in Tokyo, but municipal governments, shopping malls, department stores, restaurants, boutiques, hotels, etc. have really created a winter wonderland for the holiday season. If you drive around our city, you have an idea of how everyone has really gone all out to brighten up things. No room to mention all the places I’d like to, but here’s a few that are really worth checking out.
A few years back people living in the Omotesando area complained about the traffic problems caused by decorating the huge trees lining the wide street with Christmas lights, and that resulted in no more lights for a couple of years. Fortunately, times changed, and this year not only the trees along Omotesando but the shrubbery as well are all aglow with bright white lights. Two of our city’s major malls, Tokyo Midtown and Roppongi Hills, both have fantastic decorations, and all kinds of special events to celebrate this special time of the year. Highlights at Midtown include the Starlight Garden, Prism Avenue in front of Starbucks, and the Bamboo Illumination. Be sure and check out the Santa Tree in Galleria 1F (by Harry Winstons). The kids will love the tree that’s decorated with about 1,600 santas and candles — it is really awesome.
Roppongi Hills went blue for the holidays.The illuminated trees on the main streets around the Mall and the Grand Hyatt are really cool. I also love the European style Christmas Markets at the O-Yane Plaza by the entrance to the Mori Art Museum. The different shops and food outlets there really bring back great memories of roaming the Christmas Markets in Vienna and Berlin. The Roppongi Hills Markets are open from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. through Saturtday, Dec. 25.
You’ll also like the colorful decorations set up around the wonderful statues of Akita dogs in front of Tokyo Tower. Tokyo Dome is all a glitter as well, and, although I haven’t had time to get down to Ginza, I’m sure the luxurious shops there have gone all out for the holidays. Heard good things about the Warehouse in Yokohama as well, where there’s an impressive display of lights backed up by the holiday music we all love.
I don’t like to talk about negative things in my last column of the year, but there are people out there who will, if they can, rip off your bag, jacket or whatever. I had a first, and I hope last, time losing my credit card. It was a gold Visa I don’t use much, and hadn’t checked for a few weeks. Have to admit, I’m a bit careless about things like this. I called the card company and found out some cheap scumbag had used the card several times. It had to be a foreign guy, as my name and photo were both on the card. Why I said cheap is he had charged ¥9,000 at a shotbar (I don’t drink), bought something at Don Quixote and something else at a convenience store. As soon as I get the itemized list of things purchased, a couple of police friends are going with me to wherever he charged something and check their cameras. That, my friends, will be interesting, and I will let you know what happens later.Be careful and don’t be careless over the holidays, and other times as well.
The Carriedo’s celebrate Spain’s National Day … and say ‘Adios’
In addition to celebrating their National Day, Spanish Amb. Miquel Carriedo and his dynamic, fashionable and fun wife Dja Dja used their people-packed mid-day reception to say “Adios” to many of their many friends they made during their almost five years here. Mother Nature was kind that day, and the beautiful weather was perfect for the garden party. Once guests congratulated and said “So long” to the hosting couple, they walked between two lines of energetic young flamenco dancers onto the spacious patio for a bountiful buffet that featured a variety of paella dishes, cheeses, salads, meats and other Spanish specialities. I forgot the name, but love those long pastries that you dip in hot chocolate.
I enjoyed seeing and chatting with two of Japan’s legendary flamenco dancers, Yoko Komatsubara and Shoji Kojima. I’ve had the privilege of seeing them perform many times, and believe me, they’re good. Miquel and Dja Dja were a very popular couple and we’ll really miss them. Adios mi amigos.Thanks for many things and all the best back home.
Mexico celebrates its Bicentenario
Talk about festive, more then 600 guests showed up at the home of Mexican Ambassador Miquel and Senora Martha Ruiz Cabanas for a truly colorful, happy and exciting evening. It was raining that night, so everyone had to crowd into the residence. Whatever, everyone really seemed to be happy to be there to join the Ruiz Cabanas in their celebration of Mexico’s Bicentenario of becoming an independent and sovereign nation, as well as 100 years of the Mexican people’s fight for equality and democracy. The program included a very meaningful speech by the Ambassador, the playing of both the Mexican and Japanese National anthem, a kampai, marvelous Mexican (my favorite) food and Mariachi music by an excellent group of musicians. Juan Miquel, the Ruiz Cabanas cool little son was dressed liked a Mariachi.
During the three years I lived in Arizona and another three in San Diego, the majority of my friends were Mexican. I had the opportunity to drive from one end of beautiful Mexico to the other several times, and really came to love the country, history, art, music, Mexican people’s philosophy of life, and, most of all, the people. Really do miss all this. Martha, by the way, is a medical doctor, has a PhD and is very involved in cancer research here in Japan. She and Miquel are really special.
We all know Mexico has problems, but what country today doesn’t. The Mexican people are strong and, with the help of friends, will come out where they belong as one of the biggest tourist destinations in this old world of ours. Frankly its not as bad as the media makes it look. I have many friends who have had wonderful holidays there recently and more planning to go soon. Plan carefully and stay away from the trouble spots. We have to do that just about anywhere we go nowadays.
I’d like to close this part of the column with a big and truly sincere VIVA MEXICO! Congratulations on your 200th.
Oman National Day and cultural exhibition
On Nov. 18, Omanian Amb. Khalid Al-Muslahi, his dynamic wife Abeer, their staff and their children hosted a beautiful, exotic, well-attended reception at the Imperial Hotel. The occasion was to celebrate the 40th National Day of the Sultanate of Oman. Everyone I know really like Khalid and Abeer and, as expected, the huge Peacock Room at the Imperial was full of well-known, interesting people.The program included Khalid’s very informative speech about his country and several kampai. Exhibitions of huge photos of Oman, people, history, natural beauty, culture and contemporary life were well displayed throughout the venue. Oman is one of the few countries that I haven’t visited in that part of the world. Lilo Maruyama, who’s been there several times, describes it as wonderful.
Daisy Does Tokyo
I had a great time showing world famous boxer Oscar de la Hoya’s young cool niece Daisy around Tokyo for her four day promotion in Japan. Daisy has her own reality show in Los Angeles and will soon be releasing her first single. She’s a really hot looking lady who’s got her punk rock image all together. Images can be deceiving, and when she’s not on stage, she’s as nice a person as you could meet. Daisy was here with rock singer Davin, who’s vocalist with the band Never Heard of It. They performed several nights at the New Lex, and believe me, the place really rocked. They were also special guests at a FOX TV party in Ebisu. Really looking forward to Daisy’s return to our city in a few months.
I’d like to close this last column of the year with a big and sincere thank you to all for your friendship and so many other things. I hope that you and yours have a wonderful holidays season and that 2011 is a really good year in every way.
Peace and love, Bill