The weather was perfect for the Argentine National Day reception hosted by Ambassador Alfredo V. Chiaradia and his wife Ercilia. The couple greeted their many guests outside the main entrance to their residence. Many guests mingled and had drinks in the reception areas, while others went directly into the residence and to the third floor for an excellent buffet of Argentine foods. On the veranda, a chef in gaucho clothing was barbecuing a variety of Argentine meats. Nice mood; nice party. Our congratulations.
The Hilton Tokyo recently held a Pesta Malaysia promo that featured the best in Malaysian food prepared by chefs from Hilton Peta ling Jaya, a program by a top folkloric group from Kuala Lumpur and craft shows by two artists. Malaysia, as you know if you watch CNN, is going all-out to promote tourism. I spent two weeks in that lovely and diversified country a few years ago, and my itinerary included Kuala Lumpur, driving to Penang, a ferry boat ride to Langkawi Island, a drive to the Cameroon Highlands, back to Kuala Lumpur, down to Malacca, Sarawak and Sabah in the south. Believe me, Malaysia has a lot to offer.
The Big Maruyama Party
Deja vu, and good luck, as the bad weather cleared up and the sun came out for the annual garden party thrown by Mitsuo and Lilo Maruyama. It happened the same way in January for their yacht party around Tokyo Bay. Someone Up There, and a lot of people down here, must like them.
The Maruyamas’ lovely California-style home, with its swimming pool, Japanese and western-style gardens and spacious grounds, is in Tochigi-ken. I rode out there with Jordanian Ambassador Farouk Kasrawi and his wife Muazaz and, since we had a lot to talk about, it seemed like we were there in no time.
The many guests were casual and colorful. Many of the ladies and a few of the men wore fashionable hats or caps. It was all very laid-back; my favorite kind of party. The buffet was superb, and Lilo’s desserts, especially the chocolate ones, were to die for. Unfortunately, she’s too busy to take me up on my idea of a snack shop called “Lilo’s Desserts.”
Another highlight of the day was seeing long-time friend M.B.G. Dogon-Yaro. The former Nigerian Ambassador to Japan, M.B.G. was visiting Japan as head of a large delegation of Nigeria’s business leaders. Happy to hear his mission was very successful.
I was also happy to meet Bangladesh Ambassador Jamil Majid, a very interesting and outgoing man. Other first meetings included those with Libyan Charge d’ Affaires Ali S. Hamberbetan and Libyan Counsellor Mustafa A.M. Zawaghy. I’ve met a lot of nice Libyans during my travels to Tunisia and, now that things are more relaxed, hope to drive from Tunisia into Libya, hopefully at the end of this year.
We were among the last to leave the Maruyamas’ place, and it was starting to get cloudy again. We caught some rain on the way back but, all in all, the weather, the mood, the people and the food added up to one helluva good day with Mitsuo and Lilo.
A few days ago, I had some free time, so I dropped by Tower Records’ super Shibuya store. In addition to having the best selection of CDs, videos and DVDs in town, the English-language book and magazine section on the seventh floor is probably the best around.
They also manage to keep prices considerably lower than other outlets and that, of course, helps. The huge and busy Tower Shibuya is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and there are interesting displays and bargains on every floor. I spent almost three hours in Tower and ended up with three CDs-Arabic, Irish and Zydeco, and guide books to Cuba and Argentina.
Konishiki is on the cover of its fifth anniversary magazine and is looking good. From time to time, when I’m standing in front of the Lex in Roppongi, a van stops and the one-time sumo ozeki, now entertainment superstar, jumps out, shouts,” Aloha, man!,” and gives me a big hug. And I do mean big. It’s always fun checking out his far-out hairstyles and hip-hop fashion. Happy to see he’s doing so well.
I haven’t gotten into the book on Cuba yet but did have lunch with Louis Vigden who, as Tokyo’s biggest importer of Cuban cigars, has visited the island several times. Politics aside (as it should be), Louis really likes Cuba. So much, in fact, he hopes to write a book on Cubans he’s met and with whom he’s done business and become friends.
Louis was just back from St. Mary’s 2000 reunion in Hawaii and, from what he told me, it was a real blast “in paradise.” See Baby Handl’s column last edition for coverage and photos.
Sorry I couldn’t get to the birthday party for good friend and good guy Steven Haynes on Sunday, July 9, at Bill’s Cafe and Bar in Akasaka. His dad Oliver and mom Clara had flown in from San Francisco to be with their son on that special day.
In a card I sent to Steve, I wrote “Happy Birthday to one of the nicest people I’ve ever had the privilege of knowing.” I really mean that.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender