Orphans’ Charity Party

The holidays, the Weekender’s 40th anniversary, the 30th anniversary of the New Lex club, and my 11th orphans’ charity party at the Hilton Tokyo are all reminders (not that I need any) of how time flies. For now, I would like to cover the orphans’ party and thank all the good people and great friends who took time out of their busy schedules to help me make it all happen. Thanks to them the holiday event was a fun-filled, happy time for the beautiful kids from six different orphanages. Helpers that day included many ambassadors’ wives and some of the most active ladies in our community. Top entertainer Steve Haynes, who helps every year, brought his mom Clara and dad Oliver, who were visiting here from San Francisco—what a great couple. All of my regular Santas (Konishiki, Akebono and Rene Bosman) were out of the city that day, but we lucked out with Michael Gover, who made a great Santa. Entrepreneur Phil Miller gave each child one of his antiviral Airscape masks, and Alef Saraie gave two health products he represents, fruit bars and sesame seed bars, to both the children and the helpers. There were all kinds of fun gifts for the children from Warner Brothers, Paramount, 20th Century Fox, Tohokushinsha, Sony Pictures, National Azabu Supermarket, and Tsukasa Shiga of Ceremony Corporation. A member of the family that owns Sanrio showed up with a bag of the company’s world-renowned Hello Kitty souvenirs for each of the kids. During the gift giving, each sponsor helped a child to help him or herself to the bountiful and excellent Hilton Tokyo buffet. Meanwhile, Matthew Ireton played the ukulele and got a lot of the guests to join him in singing Christmas carols in both English and Japanese. The Guardian Angels, as always, moved around passing out gifts and acting as interpreters.

A special thanks to one of the kindest and most charitable men I know, Hilton Tokyo GM Christian Baudat, as well as Momoko Gonohe and Mihoko Kobayashi of his PR department and the Hilton staff who once again went all out to make it a great day in every way. Thanks to them and the others there, the hotel’s Marble Lounge was full of love and the holiday spirit that day. I just wish everyone could have seen the kids’ faces as they left loaded down with gifts and (I’m sure) memories of the love and kindness of their sponsors for the day.

ILBS Holiday Bazaar

I was happy to hear that the International Ladies Benevolent Society’s annual gift bazaar was, as expected, a big success. I dropped by to see community-minded friends busy selling everything from homemade baked goods to jewelry, fashion, handicrafts, and more. Florina Neagu, wife of the Romanian ambassador, was chairperson this year, and Daniele Yoshikoshi was in charge of publicity. Proceeds, as always, went to several worthwhile charity organizations.

Cuban Night at Junko Koshino

World-renowned fashion designer Junko Koshino never slows down, and I really admire her energy and creativity. I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for many years. One of her many big projects are her fashion shows in Havana, Cuba. I’ve heard from those in the know that these spectacular productions are always much anticipated and enjoyed by the Cubans who attend. Prior to her last show in Havana, she invited many of her Latin friends, as well as Japanese showbiz personalities, to her boutique on Miyukidori for an evening of good food, an interesting exhibition of fashion and photos by her husband Hiroyuki Suzuki, and, of course, Cuban music. Junko’s events always have her own personal touch and are very special. I heard her Havana show at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Tokyo was a colorful and exciting happening.

UAE National Day Celebration

It was wall to wall people at UAE Ambassador Saeed and Mrs. Al- Nowais’s national day celebration. I would like to mention that thanks to a stricter policy at the door, there were fewer party crashers, but even so a few of the more determined ones somehow managed to get in. Otherwise it was an interesting mix of people who enjoyed the laid-back mood, the Arab hospitality, and the bountiful buffet. I enjoyed talking with Saeed and Zahra’s children, who are really growing up. I also appreciated the ambassador introducing me to the executives of the new UAE airline, Etihad, which now flies direct from Abu Dhabi to Tokyo and back. The country’s other airline, Emirates, will start its flights from Narita in late March. I’ve driven around all seven of the Emirates, and it’s a fascinating country to visit. I hope to get back there soon.