As I’ve often said, my dear grandmother was right on when she said the older we get, the faster time goes. We’re already in the middle of January 2011 and I’m still trying to figure out where 2010 went. This was my second year to spend my holidays here in Japan, and I enjoyed seeing a lot of friends who live here or were visiting, and trying to get my apartment and myself a bit more organized, as well as getting out and seeing Tokyo, which was beautifully decorated for the holidays. It all really gave me the opportunity to enjoy the traditions of both a Christian Christmas and Japanese New Year.
Fun, unusual things I saw around our city over the holidays included a young man with a child strapped on his back walking around Harajuku leading a cute little donkey. It was almost like he was on his way to Bethlehem. One night about 30 fully costumed Santa Clauses stood by the big clock at Roppongi Hills and greeted passersby, and three people-packed Christmas parties at the New Lex were full of countless young Japanese (mostly girls) dressed like Santa. Another night in Omotesando, an almost 30-member motorcycle gang, all in Santa Claus suits, were wishing everyone a Merry Christmas. Tokyo is really a city of happenings.
Speaking of which, here’s an update on what I and a few friends are doing about the scumbag who charged over ¥150,000 on my stolen Visa Gold card. Checked out the clothing store Urban Renewal on Meiji dori where he charged ¥50,000. They don’t have cameras, but the staff were really nice and gave me some helpful info. Most of the other charges were darts and girlie clubs and bars in Chofu. They was also a hostess club in Shinjuku’s Kabuki-cho. We will meet with the management and staff, check videos taken the day of the purchases and feel that we will find the crook (It’s forgery and fraud!). Wish me luck!
Most of the other charges were darts and girlie clubs and bars in Chofu. We will meet with the management and staff, check videos taken the day of the purchases, and feel that we will find the crooks!
Hilton Tokyo’s 13th Annual International Christmas Tree Charity Party
One of the highlights of my holidays was my and Hilton Tokyo’s 13th annual International Christmas Tree charity party for about 70 Japanese orphans. As always, many friends, including ambassadors, ambassadors’ wives, business and community leaders, sports, showbiz and fashion personalities and the Guardian Angels took time out of their busy holiday schedules to join us and make it a truly memorable day for all the truly beautiful kids there. Top entertainer Steven Haynes, aka Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer, brought his dynamic mom, Clara, who was visiting from San Francisco. She’s so special. I also appreciated Lilo and Mitsuo Maruyama bringing two former Tokyoites they had just hosted a luncheon for, Maha Debs and Tarsi Georgas. They were really pillars of the foreign community here for many years.
The party opened with a short welcome speech by Hilton Tokyo general manager Naoki Oto. This was followed by each participant joining Santa Claus Konishiki and his cover girl wife Chie in presenting their child for the day with the gift they had brought for them, as well as two big bags of all kinds of things that kids love from various sponsors. This was followed by the children and their sponsors going to the bountiful buffet of kid’s favorites (hamburgers, french fries, gyoza, ice cream, cake, cookies, etc.) and piling their plates high (at least once).
During all this, vocalist Matthew Ireton got many of the kids to join him in singing traditional Christmas music and Dutch clown Rene Bosman kept busy making balloon animals. Later Steve, Gisele (Mrs. Santa Claus) and all of Santa’s helpers joined the kids in some really festive dancing. I just wish you could have been there to see the smiles on the children’s faces. That really made it all worthwhile.
In closing this part of the column, I’d like to extend my sincerest thanks to the sponsors that sent so many great gifts. These included National Azabu Supermarket, Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures, Warner Brothers, Paramount, Sony Pictures, Lufthansa, United Airlines, Hertz Asia Japan, Tohokushinsha, 20th Century Fox, Gene Pelc Mercedes Benz, Steiff Japan Ladro, Hello Kitty, and entrepreneur Alef Saraie. We received so many gifts that I had plenty to put in those huge boxes I send to less fortunate families and a few institutions in the Philippines. I’d also like to thank Banjiro Uemura, the Maruyamas, Grace Saito, Steven, Haynes, Regina Doi, Jane Yonamine and Jane Scolinos for helping with the postage on getting all the huge boxes to Manila. Also have a big thanks and a big kudos to the Hilton Tokyo’s general manager, Naoki Oto, public relations director Momoko Gonohe and the hotel’s hardworking, always helpful, always supportive staff for the time and effort they put in at this busy time of the year to make the party the big success that it was.
One of many sayonara parties for Regina Doi
It’s never easy saying sayonara to longtime friends, and I really found it difficult with that super-human, exceptional human being and truly good friend, Regina Doi. The lady who has been in, and really made her mark on, Japan for 47 years, recently sold her internationally acclaimed Aoba School (both campuses), contacted our friends at Asian Tigers and with their professional and personal help, and has moved into a big beautiful house in New York. Hope you did check out the four pages on Regina in our Dec. 3 issue; if so, you saw what an exciting, celebrity-packed, always-there-to-help-others life she’s had, and I’m sure will continue to have. In addition to being a talented opera singer during and after her university days, her mother, who owned several restaurants, taught her to be a master chef.
One of her major accomplishments was the founding of Aoba International School. Through the school she gained fame as an innovator and real leader in education. Through this work she became a guiding light, not only for her many students but many of their parents as well, and many others who had the good fortune and privilege of meeting and getting to know her. Our world needs more Reginas.
I was able to get to several of the many parties in Regina’s honor. Believe me there was nothing but admiration and love for her from a huge variety of her friends from all walks of life. The photos in this column were taken at a buffet dinner party at Va Tout restaurant in Roppongi set up by three of Regina’s ardent admirers and best friends, Marc Gleason (Tabasco), Joe Les Tage and V.B. Rupani. It was a laid-back, relaxing evening with a lot of Regina’s interesting friends, once again, from all walk of life.
During her last two weeks here, I spent considerable time with the lady. She’s amazing and has all kinds of plans for her life — not retirement — in the USA. These include: helping deserving young men and women from the Philippines get home-care training back home and eventually go to the States; opening a restaurant; possibly writing a book; etc. etc. Whatever, wherever I’m sure she’ll be successful. I, like all who know and love her, will really miss her help, advice, support, humor, philosophy of life and the endless tales of her adventures during the time she’s done so much. So long my dear. Keep up the good work and all the best.