Sinisoos’ Reception for Estonia’s National Day
On Feb. 24, Estonian Ambassador Mark Sinisoo and his wife Ingrid hosted a glittering reception at the Imperial Hotel on the occasion of the 82nd Anniversary of Independence of the Republic of Estonia.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening of interesting people, lively conversation and good food. It was nice meeting Mark and Ingrid’s daughter Maria and her fiance Nikolas Bergenheirn. (He’s from Finland.)
I also enjoyed talking with longtime Tokyo resident Anja Henttonen. This dynamic lady worked for Finnair, and we enjoyed talking about mutual friends including Bo Long who ran Finnair in Tokyo for several years. Ran into Mark and Ingrid walking (they’re great walkers) in Roppongi a few days ago. What a nice, devoted couple!
Asian Ladies Friendship Society
It was a real privilege being invited to the Asian Ladies Friendship Society’s first event of the millennium … introductions, a luncheon and entertainment program at the Kajima K1 Building.
The ALFS was founded in November of 1968 by Mutsuko Miki, widow of the late Prime Minister Takeo Miki. The goal of the organization is to promote international understanding and friendship between women of Japan and other Asian countries through cultural and fund-raising activities.
All proceeds go to worthwhile charities or to provide emergency funds to Asian victims of national disasters. There are 21 member countries with 200 Japanese and 100 non-Japanese members. Princess Hitachi was a special guest at the luncheon.
The program included greetings by ALFS Executive Director Mimi Kuriyama, introductions of the ambassadors’ wives, new members, chairperson Benchapa Krairiksh and vice-chairperson Rafia Hussain of this year’s Asian Festival.
The second part of the program opened with a greeting by the President, Mutsuko, followed by a brief speech by Benchapa. Cultural entertainment which included a make-up demonstration and dance performance was provided by noted Kabuki actor Shibajaku Nakamura.
The March ALFS meeting was a Nepalese afternoon hosted by Kohinoor Mathema, wife of the Nepalese Ambassador. The program featured the music, dance and food of Nepal.
The society’s biggest fundraiser, the Asian Festival, will be held a month early this year, and the colorful, exciting event takes place on Thursday, Apr. 27, from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the ANA Hotel Tokyo. It features the sale of Asian handicrafts, accessories, jewelry, foods and homemade baked goods.
BLUE NOTE EVENT
It was a very special evening in every way over at the Blue Note when U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley, his wife Heather and Goldman Sachs (Japan) Ltd. hosted an Evening of American Jazz. The featured artists were the legendary jazz pianist McCoy Tyner, Avery Sharpe, Aaron Scott and special guest Chico Freeman.
After an hour or so of jazz at its best, guests enjoyed an excellent buffet. The Blue Note’s relatively new venue has combined hi-tech decor with comfort. Every seat offers a view of the stage with the latest in sound and lighting technology. Don’t know why, but co-host Goldman Sachs said no photos and I, of course, went along with their request. I suppose they have their reasons. Kudos to the Foleys and Goldman Sachs (Japan) on a marvelous evening of the very best in American jazz.
Lord of the Dance
Irish Ambassador Declan O’Donovan hosted a pre-theater (“Lord of the Dance”) reception at his home during the sold-out run of the super-successful Irish song-and-dance show. As always, it was a diverse and interesting group of people at Declan’s home. He had to leave a bit early to meet Prince and Princess Takamado who, along with their three daughters, were special guests at that evening’s performance.
The last few months have really been busy and, as usual, I had to pass on several interesting and worthwhile events. Really struck out at the Miss Universe Japan 2000 Contest, missed the welcome party at Pizza Express the night before the contest which was held at the New Otani on Mar. 22, and I missed the party (also at the New Otani) held after the contest.
In addition to having good friends among the sponsors (Amway’s Artistry, Alitalia, Wolford, Dr. Andy’s Clinic and Coca-Cola), I was able to see last year’s winner, Salomi Ogawa, a super nice lady. People there felt the “organization of the glamorous and prestigious evening was 1,000 times better than last year.” Amway’s Terry Wilson told me this year’s winner, 23-year-old Mayu Endo, is an exceptional young lady. An accomplished violinist and pianist, she studied in Denmark, Wesley College (Hillary was there) and MIT. She’s just received admission to Harvard University’s Graduate School of Architecture. Amway Japan President Jim Payne had the honor of crowning Mayu, and Terry’s promised me pies of the special event.
Happy to see Widad Kurdi back in town. Saw her and her husband, Saudi Ambassador Mohamed Kurdi, at the Imperial Hotel’s recent Spring Party. The Kurdis have moved into their beautiful new home in the Saudi complex in Roppongi. I haven’t been able to get to any of the dinners they’ve hosted there but hope to soon. There are always interesting people, superb food and legendary Arab hospitality.
Swiss Cultural Attache Christina Biirgi hosted a very special evening at her home with a house concert followed by a buffet dinner.
AWAAJ-the Association of African Wives in Japan-held a special function to commemorate African Women’s Day at the residence of Zambian Ambassador Lyson Potipher Tembo. His wife Minerva is president of the association.
Highlights of the event included an exotic African buffet, an Ethiopean coffee ceremony, an African costume show and an exhibition of fabrics and handicrafts. Yasmina Karem, wife of the Egyptian Ambassador, told me there was an excellent talk on the role of women in Africa today.
Art Tower Mito is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a “new transmission base” for art and culture. Events to help celebrate the occasion included a fashion show by Hanae Mori and a show titled “Thai Silk Through the Millennium-From Thailand.” The latter collection featured the works of three up-and-coming designers and was supported by the support foundation of Queen Sirikit of Thailand.
It always lifts my spirits and renews my faith in human nature when I see people who go out of their way to help those less fortunate. From what I heard, the evening for the Street Children Association hosted by French Ambassador Maurice Gourdault-Monatagne and his wife.
So line with the help of a group of community-minded men and women was a big success. The entire donation went to help finance programs for street children in the Philippines and Thailand. I saw Soline at the Jun Ashida show, and she told me they raised ¥3 million. As our Australian friends would say, good on ya for a very worthwhile project.
Congratulations to Barry Spence and his wife Judith Curtis on the birth of their daughter Sophia Margaret Aiko Spence, at 7:21 p.rn. on Mar. 28. Barry, a teacher at Sacred Heart, has not only helped me in some of my charity projects, but also has several projects of his own.
Happy to hear from former Tokyoite Kathy Kriger. I last saw her in Prague about three years ago. Kathy who worked with the American Embassy there took me out to dinner at Prague’s most popular Irish pub. Those Irish do get around.
Like so many others I know, Kathy loves Morocco and the Moroccan people. In fact, she’s so smitten by it and them, she bought a retirement home right in the center of exotic Marrakech’s Souk. Several of Kathy’s friends, also former Tokyoites, have already visited her Marrakech retreat. She has nothing but praise for Morocco and is giving full support to the country’s bid for the 2006 World Cup Soccer matches.
Kathy’s son, Kyle, started at the University of Chicago this year. She’s not ready for retirement yet but sure chose a beautiful place to settle when she does.
You can bet your boots (or clogs) that Paddy Foley’s manager Craig Schneider is going to miss his co-worker and buddy, Canadian Kevin Haveron. After five years in Japan, Kevin and his wife Anne (she’s American) just made the move to one of America’s most popular cities, Seattle. Kevin will be missed by all of us who got to know him, and we wish him and Anne all the best in the good ol’ USA.
I’m so happy for Annie Arguelles, wife of the Philippines Ambassador. She accompanied the Philippines First Lady, Dr. Luisa P. Ejercito Estrada, to the Vatican recently. The two exceptional ladies had an audience with Pope John Paul II, and that has to be one of the experiences of a lifetime.
Hilton Tokyo has been busier than usual with a series of colorful and exciting international cultural festivals. A few months ago there was a very successful Egyptian Festival with an Egyptian buffet and performances by a Cairo-based folkloric group.
A few weeks ago, I dropped by the hotel’s Marble Lounge for an hour of exciting and mellow music by a top steel drum band from the Caribbean. The next big cultural event at the hotel will be a flamenco show on May 1 and 2 in the Kiku Ballroom. United Airlines and Lufthansa are cooperating with the Hilton to bring in noted flamenco dancer Maria Carrasco and four other dancers from Spain.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender