One of the most difficult parts of my job is saying sayonara, auf wiedersehen, adios, goodbye or whatever to the many people I meet, highly respect and really Like. This was certainly true when two of my dear friends, Ecudorean Ambassador Marcelo Avila and his lovely wife Maria Teresa, left Japan. There was a change of government, and the popular couple didn’t have all that much time to say adios before they had to leave. They had to decline the many lunches and dinners friends wanted to do in their honor. Their own sayonara was, as expected, wall-to-wall proof of how well-liked are Marcelo and Maria Teresa. I first met the Avilas when they were posted here as Ecuador’s top diplomats from 1989 to 1996. During their stay, they made it possible for me to visit their lovely country. The adventure included island-hopping in the unbelievable Galapagos (a favorite of Princess Hitachi) and four nights on a floating hotel on the Amazon. That’s traveling at its best. The powers-that-be realized how capable and connected the Avilas are, so they were reassigned to Japan with Marcelo as Ambassador from January 2001 until January 2003. They really will be missed and I, along with their many friends, wish them all the best back home.
Congratulations to young Aussie (Sydney) Peter Lucas on his appointment as Assistant Food and Beverage Manager at Hilton Tokyo. He’s a friendly, outgoing guy l’m sure will do very well.
Former Malaysian Ambassador to Japan H.M. Khatib was in town for a few days and asked me to extend regards from he and his wife Noni to their many friends here. Khatib’s been busy since he moved back to Kuala Lumpur. He’s chairman of the National Heart Institute and on the Board of Directors of Malaysia University. When Noni’s not helping him, she’s on one of Malaysia’s many golf courses.
Talked recently with Jan Vulevich, special assistant to U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker, and her head’s been up in the clouds. Jan’s new hobby is flying, and she loves it. Her flying lessons are pretty much studying and groundwork now, but she’s had five flying hours.
The many guests at the Republic of Kazakhstan lndependence Day celebration hosted by Ambassador Tieukhan Kabdrakhmanov and his wife Nagima at the New Otani Hotel enjoyed the special occasion very much. Guests were a great mix of Japanese government officials, diplomats and business leaders. The informative photo exhibit highlighted the culture, history and modern development in Kazakhstan.
Iceland’s Prime Minister David Oddsson and his wife Astridur Thorarensen were recently in Japan for a busy and successful official working visit. During their “all-too-short” stay, Icelandic Ambassador Sigfusson and his wife Ingimundur hosted a reception at their home in their honor. Guests included newly appointed Icelandic Honorary Consul Soichiro (Sol) Yoshida. He’s already Honorary Consul to Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Finland. In addition to being able to congratulate Sol, I was also able to congratulate his always-busy, very community-minded wife, Carole. She was chairperson of the ILBS 50th anniversary luncheon at the Okura Hotel. Princess Nori, daughter of Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko, was special guest with more than 100 of Tokyo’s most influential women there. From all reports the food, flowers, table settings and mood were perfect. Carole’s good at things Like that. The Prime Minister and his wife are a very outgoing and energetic couple who chatted with all the guests. During his visit, the P.M. got together with his colleague, Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi, who he had first met at the Johannesburg Summit in July last year.
Chairman Ollena Truskett, co-chairperson Susan Zirkel and the members of the Ball committee for making the “Share the Magic” St. Mary’s International Ball 2003 at Tokyo Hilton a very special event. Still on St Mary’s, kudos to Mark Striegl, a freshman who recently won the Far East High School Wrestling Championship in his weight class (108 lbs.) in Okinawa. Mark’s proud parents Frank and Sonia are both highly regarded teachers at St. Mary’s. Mark’s brother Frank, graduated from St Mary’s last year, was not only Kanto Plains wrestling champ and Outstanding Wrestler in Kanto.
Congratulations to Emile Yamano on the opening of his Santa Maria Novella Italian Menswear boutique in Ginza. I didn’t get to the opening party but ran into Emile’s wife, Sharon, at Segafredo, and she told me there was a good turnout that included Italian C. of C. President Romano Mazzucco and some of Japan’s most fashionable business leaders. Some 30 years ago when Emile was a top model here, and I was fashion editor for two Japanese men’s magazines, we opened a boutique called Le Bazaar on Aoyama-Dori. It was fun.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender