Thai Ambassador Sakthip Krairiksh and his wife Benchapa are an extremely busy and very popular couple on Tokyo’s diplomatic, business and social scenes. Their recent celebration on the occasion of the birthday anniversary of their beloved King Bhumibol was, as expected, a colorful, festive and thoroughly enjoyable event.
Guests entered the Krairikshes’ beautiful and classie residence, walked past colorful arrangements of Thai orchids, congratulated the hosting couple and moved into the dining room or out to the spacious garden.
Everyone I know likes Thai food, and there was a bountiful buffet of it inside and tables of other Thai favorites in the garden. There was Thai music and a group of girls in glittering costumes performed traditional dances at the very special reception-perfect for the occasion.
Happy to report that, following the smashing success of the first Thai Food Festival in 2000, a second one will be held in Yoyogi Park the coming weekend. More on this later.
The annual Latin Ladies Annual festival was, as always, a crowded, colorful and festive event with food stalls, handicraft booths and Latin music and entertainment Princess Hitachi officially opened the festival and did “considerable shopping” herself.
I couldn’t stay long but had a taco from Mexico, a delicious piece of pastry from Nicaragua, a bean dish from Brazil and coffee from Colombia. The gala event also gave me the opportunity to meet and welcome new Venezuelan Ambassador Carlos Antonio Bivero Garcia and his wife Diana, and Angela Infante, wife of the new Chilean Ambassador.
The only thing missing that day was the big smile and hearty and usually contagious laugh of Barbara Uribe, wife of Mexican Ambassador Manuel Uribe. She was traveling at the time.
No one is happy about the news of Manuel and Barbara leaving, but that’s the life of a diplomat. After five and a half years in Japan, they’ll be moving to Toronto. More later on the Uribes.
Warner Brothers Special Screening
It was an interesting gathering of people from all walks of life (airlines, the diplomatic corps, big business, restaurateurs, the sports world) at Warner Brothers special screening of a beautiful film, “Pay It Forward,” hosted by WB Managing Director Bill Ireton and his wife Charo.
I enjoyed meeting noted golfer Sho Tobari as well as Ken and Miyuki Shiela. They’ve just opened L’Operetta Italian Restaurant. Charo knows the best restaurants and told me it was excellent.
Alitalia’s Bruno Bertani was there and told me he’ll be leaving Japan soon for a new assignment in Paris. Ciao, Bruno, and all the best.
There was a very special price that day, a round trip in Business Class to anywhere United Airlines flies. The winner, Diego Deloenzi, said he never won anything in his life, but now has a lot from which to choose.
Guido Vitali, head of Hub and Aviation Development, and top execs of Aeroporti di Roma (ADR) were in town to update people in the travel and tourism business here on the many additions and improvements to Fiumicino Airport.
Enrico Maggi outgoing director of the Italian State Tourist Board (Japan, Asia and Oceania) for ENlT, hosted an evening at the New Otani to meet the VIPs from Rome and attend an extremely well organized and interesting seminar. This was followed by a superb buffet of Italian food complemented by the best Italian wines.
My thanks to good friends, Slovak Ambassador Mikulas Sedlak and his wife Anna, for the opportunity to meet Chairman of the National Council of the Slovak Republic Jozef Migas at a reception they hosted in honor of the visiting dignitary.
I’ve been covering all kinds of events for many years and have sort of worked out a system of taking photos as soon as the party starts with as little bother as possible to the host and guests. It doesn’t always work, though.
When I requested to take the photo of Chairman Migas and the Sedlaks, the chairman asked me to wait until his wife, Alena, returned from the upstairs powder room. I waited a few minutes and, when a lady came down the stairs, I asked her to please join the photo.
She moved over to the group before I found out she was not his wife, but the interpreter. These things happen and don’t upset me anymore, but I’m sure I did make Ambassador Sedlak a bit nervous. Sorry about that. The chairman’s wife eventually came down and, as you can see, I got my picture.
I spoke later with Chairman Migas and told him about my experiences on my two visits to his country’s capital city, Bratislava. He was happy when I sincerely complimented him on the restoration of some of the older parts of the city which are still on-going. It’s nice they’re maintaining the Old World look in many of the neighborhoods in Bratislava.
Dr. Eugene Aksenoff was there with one of his International Clinic staff members, Eva Dia. She’s Slovakian and, believe me, people don’t come any nicer than this.
Louis Vuitton Party
I felt as if I were in Fez or Meknes when I attended the Louis Vuitton party hosted by LVKK Japan’s President Kyojiro Hata and his wife Coco over Roppongi way. The Hatas went all the way for the special evening supported by the Embassy of the King of Morocco in Japan.
As guests entered, they were asked to put on a colorful kaftan that had been shipped in from Marrakesh. The venue was beautifully decorated with Moroccan fabrics draped everywhere amid flowers, fountains and candles.
Chefs had been flown in from Casablanca to prepare couscous and other Moroccan foods, and a musical group from Rabat provided the entertainment. Air France supported what was a truly magical Moroccan night in Tokyo.
Min-On Concert Association, an affiliate of Soka Gakkai, really started out their schedule of cultural events on a grand scale this year. The event was a concert of Verdi’s “Requiem,” commemorating the 100th anniversary of Verdi’s passing by the Asian Philharmonic Orchestra. The concert took place at Tokyo International Forum under the baton of Myung-Whun Chung.
Asia Ireton on her recent appointment as managing director of the History Channel. I’ve worked with Asia for Movie/TV Marketing magazine and also putting out The Daily Bulletin for the Tokyo International Film Festival for many years.
She’s professional, international and really knows what she’s doing. She also has some great programs with which to work. I’m addicted to the History Channel which I get on Channel 370 on SKY PerfecTV!
Award-winning Continental Airlines on the opening of its new local ticket office near JR Ebisu Station. The light and bright first floor office is a short walk from the station in the F. Nissei Ebisu Building at 3-I 6-3 Higashi, Shibuya-ku. I’ll have a few photos of a friendly get-together there later.
Warner Brothers recently brought in 12-year-old actor Haley Joel Osement to promote the film, and that charming and truly smart kid was in complete control of the press conference. He answered every question intelligently and won the admiration of media reps there. If you’ve seen the clips of the press conference on CNN, you know why.
I had fully intended to attend the opening of the UNU Building on AoyamaDori at the U.N. House at 11 a.m. on Jan. 24. Really wanted to meet United Nations Secretary General KofiAnan, in Tokyo for the opening ceremony. Unfortunately, I had a very late night, like about 5 a.m., the night (morning) before and overslept.
The UNU Building was completed in 1992, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government provided the land, and Japan’s Ministry of Education the costs of constructing the building. The U.N. House staff is making every effort to make the UNU Building more open and accessible to the Japanese public.
Looking back, I worked with Warner Brothers on setting up a special screening of a Steven Seagal film at the UNU Building. The star was there that night and at the party after the screening, he went all out to meet and greet the nearly 400 people who attended.
Prince Takamado will have an exhibition of photos he’s taken during his extensive travels. It’s at Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi and will run for one week from Feb. 27. An interesting man and interesting places. It should be worthwhile.
Mark Thursday, Mar. 15, on your calendar. That’s the date of this year’s Refugees International-Japan annual (11th this year) Art of Dining Exhibition at the Westin Tokyo. More details on this outstanding event in a later edition of your Weekender.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender