Christina Aguilera was here to promote her album for BMG. The controversial video “Dirty” has been banned in Thailand. I know her huge security guy, Vernon, from when he was here with Marilyn Manson. Considering the crowd and its enthusiasm about Christina, he really kept things under control.
It was nice to see Leonardo de Caprio again. The superstar was here to promote “Gangs of New York” for Nippon Herald and Shochiku. Leo flew in on a private jet with director Martin Scorcese, a couple of his buddies and his personal security man, Dan Palmer. Happy to say he spent four of his five nights here at the Lex with his two writer and artist buddies. Crowd control wasn’t easy, as those young Japanese girl groupies are strong. My thanks to Dan, a long-time friend and one of the busiest celebrity security guys in the U.S., and topnotch security man here, Nestor Takamiyagi, for helping keep it all under control. It was wall-to-wall people every night Leo was there, and I had to advise the security for Prince, here on a concert tour, not to bring him to the club. He has been there several times and is not what you would call easy. Success, by the way, has not spoiled Leonardo; he’s one of the nicest superstars I know.
It was a real privilege to be included in a very intimate sayonara lunch hosted by Djibouti Ambassador Rachad Farah at the truly excellent Queen Alice restaurant (the favorite of Maria Anderson). The occasion was to say sayonara to outgoing Cuban Ambassador Ernesto Melendez Bachs and Polish Ambassador Jerzy Pomianowski. It was, as you can see by the photos, a very interesting gathering, and I’m glad I made it, as I did have to miss Ambassador Pomianowski’s National Day celebration-sayonara at the Polish Embassy on Nov. 1. I also had to miss another lunch hosted by Ambassador Farah on Nov. I to say good-bye to Turkish Ambassador Yaman Baskut. After almost five years in Japan, Yaman and his wife Filiz have returned to Istanbul.
Congratulations to Tokyo American Club’s Special Events Manager Leslie Sagara Yoshimura on the birth of her daughter Alyssa Hope on Nov. I. Now, that’s got to be a beautiful baby.
Congratulations to Warner Entertainment Japan lnc. Chairman Bill Ireton who celebrates his birthday on Dec. 6. In addition to having a super mom, Kiko, a gorgeous and loving wife, Charo, and five really great kids (Matthew, Roberta, William, Thomas and Edward), he’s just been promoted. He is also riding high on the phenomenal success of “Harry Potter 2,” and it all could not happen to a nicer guy. I’d also like to congratulate Matthew and the others in the cast and crew of St. Mary’s and Seisen International Schools’ production of Carlo Goldoni’s “The Liar.”
Congratulations to Maria Teresa Avila (a beautiful grandmother) who celebrated her birthday on Oct. 15. Maria’s the wife of Ecuadorean Ambassador Marcelo Avila.
I don’t usually get up and out very early on Saturdays, but sure am glad I did on Oct. 5. The occasion was the gala performance of Netherlands Dance Theater groups I, II and Ill. The exciting and unusual theatrical experience was followed by a reception to meet the dancers who come from all over the world to be a member of the legendary dance company. Jiri Kylian, the choreographer, told me they consider the Saitama Arts Theater their home in Japan, and this was the first time NDT I, II and Ill performed together here. The show was more than two hours of creative, contemporary dance at its very best. Even during intermission, guests were treated to a very avantegarde (and muddy) performance by two dancers in a small, glass-enclosed stage outside the main venue. The reception was fun. In addition to meeting many of the dancers, I had the opportunity to talk with Saitama’s genki governor, Yoshihiko Tsuchiya. It was a perfect day in every way, all hosted by Dutch Ambassador Egbert Jacobs and his wife Francoise.
It was “Malaysia, Truly Asia” all the way for 14 days at Hilton Tokyo and the colorful, exciting festival of the same name. At the opening ceremony, Malaysian Ambassador Dato Mohd. Noor Marzuki officially opened the festival with a truly Asian touch, by striking a gong. This was followed by a fashion show which featured a group of Malaysia’s top models-gorgeous. Popular Japanese singer Kaho Shimada sang the version of “Malaysia, Truly Asia,” the one you hear with the dynamic “Visit Malaysia” commercials you see on TV.
Our Latin American friends held their annual Holiday Food and Crafts Fiesta at the Tokyo Prince Hotel on Nov. 13, and what a colorful and fun event it was.
Ikebana International’s annual fair was held at the Tokyo Prince Hotel on Dec. 4. With its beautiful ikebana creations, the embassy gift shops and the bake sale, it was a great success. Francoise Julien Jacobs, wife of the Dutch Ambassador, was chairperson this year.
Two of Tokyo’s finest restaurants on their anniversaries; Roy’s Aoyama Bar and Grill on its seventh and Nobu’s Japan on its fourth. Soho’s runs the restaurants here and had all kinds of special events for the occasion.
Lots, and I do mean lots, of people at the reception at the Hotel New Otani hosted by Saudi Charge d’Affaires Mohammad Ameen Wali on the occasion of his country’s National Day. Last year, Saudi Arabia celebrated the 20th anniversary of the reign of the custodian of the two holy mosques, King Fahd Ibn Abdulaziz. His leadership has brought about phenomenal change and advancement in industry, agriculture, health and education. Boy, I can tell you I have some great memories of my trip to Saudi Arabia a few years ago. I was a guest of Crown Prince Abdullah Bin Abdul Aziz who heads the National Guard, and I was really treated royally. The main purpose of my visit was to see what has to be one of the most spectacular festivals in the world, the Jenadriyah Culture Festival, an annual event near Riyadh. The festival gave me the opportunity to learn and better understand Saudi Arabian history and culture.
Two of Austria’s most wellknown representatives, Embassy Minister Wolfgang Angerholzer and his fashionable wife Suzanne, hosted a buffet dinner at their home Oct. 28. Also on the 28th, Pakistani Ambassador Touqir Hussain, his wife Rafia, the Tokyo National Museum, and NHK hosted an opening ceremony at the museum in Ueno Park for the highly acclaimed ‘The Art of Gandhara” exhibition.
The International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS) Christmas Bazaar is always popular and busy. The happening, a great place for buying holiday gifts, takes place at Sacred Heart this year from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 7. See you Our Swedish friends will also hold their Christmas Bazaar on Saturday, the 7th. The highlight of the event is the traditional Lucia performances, and ginger cookies, smorgasbord, candies and shopping for Swedish handicrafts with a lot of nice people. It will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Embassy of Sweden.
My annual orphans party at the Hilton Tokyo, with the support of the hotel, will be held from 3 to 5:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 9. Italian Chamber of Commerce President Romano Mazzucco has agreed to be Santa Claus. Princess Takamado and retired sumo champ-now top entertainment personality Konishiki, along with 40-some ambassadors’ wives and other caring, giving ladies, and a few men as well, always help too. With the sudden and tragic loss of her husband, Prince Takamado, the princess will, of course, not be there this year. Like so many who have had the privilege of knowing Prince Takamado, I have really felt down and helpless.
As in places the world over, “Harry Potter” fever has hit Japan. Warner Brothers Japan held a sneak preview of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” at the closing of the Tokyo International Film Festival. A few days later, there was a star-studded premiere at Budokan. That weekend, a week before the film opened, Isetan sold more than $500,000 worth of Harry Potter merchandise, and 13-year-old actor Daniel Radcliffe will visit Japan for a few days in mid-December. Take your kids to the film during the holiday season. It actually opened Saturday, Nov. 23, and is a real entertainment experience. Just got the big news in the cinema world here. In just a few days, the new “Harry Potter” film made nearly $20 million at 840 theaters throughout Japan. This was the biggest opening ever, beating out “Harry Potter I,” which had been the biggest ever, by 30 percent.
The Lex keeps busy. Music celebrities there the last month or so have included the Canadian band Sum 41, the French pop group Pleymo, Primal Scream and Def Leppard. Keanu Reeves dropped by with his band Dogstar, and pop star diva Christina Aguilera showed up with her entourage on the busiest Saturday night. It was not easy.
The sports scene has been heavy at the Lex as well. Soccer superstar Hidetoshi Nakata partied there one Sunday night with 10 F-One drivers including Eddie Irvine and Jean Villenueve. Another popular soccer player, Creation Igor Cvitanovic, has had about six sayonara parties at the Lex. He keeps postponing his trip while his attorney tries to get the money owed him by the team for which he played. That can’t be fun or easy. There were also a lot of tennis players from all over the world (here for AIG) and U.S. baseball players, here for the Major League All-Star Series 2002, dropping by nightly. My thanks to Konishiki for sending some of the players to the Lex.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender