Out ’til 6 a.m. on a Friday, so I didn’t get up until about noon the next day. The Japanese-Turkish Women’s Club Friendship Fair 2001 was scheduled from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and I felt getting over there about 12:30 would give me plenty of time.
Happy they had a busy morning and the Turkish handicrafts, carpets jewelry and food were pretty much sold out by the time I got there. Entrance tickets and raffle prices that day included two round-trip Business Class tickets to Turkey on Lufthansa, two of the same on Turkish Airlines and economy class for two on Thai Airways International to Bangkok.
The proceeds from a fair go to education and welfare projects in Japan and Turkey. Our congratulations to Filiz Baskut, wife of the Turkish Ambassador and president of the club, and the many others who worked so hard to make the fair a big success.
Had to miss newly arrived Czech Ambassador Karel Zebrakovsky’s introduction luncheon, but did get to the Czech Embassy a few days later for another mid-day recaption. The occasion was the visit of the delegation of the Parliament of the Czech Republic.
I enjoyed chatting with popular and very active Diet member Kiyoko Kusakabe. She’s a real fighter against child abuse and prostitution. Also nice meeting Slovenian Charge d’ Affaires Bernard Srajner. I am sorry I had to miss his National Day reception at the Imperial Hotel on June 25.
We wish Ambassador Zebrakovsky, a pleasant, outgoing man with an excellent diplomatic background, all the best here in Japan.
Ronald “Ron” Anderson and his lovely wife Maria are certainly one of Tokyo’s busiest and most popular couples on our city’s always hyped-up social scene. He, as most of you know, is chairman and CEO of AIG. She is involved in all kinds of worthwhile community activities.
It was wall-to-wall people–all kinds of people-at a buffet dinner the Andersons hosted recently in their home. Fortunately, the weather was nice, so many of the guests were able to move into the garden. Interesting people, lively conversation and a delicious buffet all in the warm ambience of Ron and Maria’s home made it a special occasion in every way.
Israeli Ambassador Yitzhak Lior and his wife Amalia went all-out to celebrate the 53rd Independence Day of their country. The huge crowd at the reception was indicative of the many friends they’ve made during their six months in Japan.
Sumo wrestler Kotonowaka and his son Masakatsu attracted a lot of attention, and I happily took photos of them with many of the guests.
Really had a pleasant surprise when I ran into Giorgio Sermoneta and his family. I first met Giorgio through one of his (and my) best friends, Alitalia’s Romano Mazzucco. Giorgio’s a leader in fashion, and I always visit his shop at Piazza Espana (Spanish Steppes) whenever I’m in Rome. The Sermonetas were in Japan to plan the opening of several of their shops in prestigious outlets here.
After greeting guests, Ambassador Lior made a very short and meaningful speech. Our prayers are with him and our Arab friends for a peaceful, satisfactory to all, and lasting solution to the many problems in their part of the world.
It was a first for me that evening as each guest was given a Vividot sticker with the instructions to log onto the Internet in 48 hours, enter the access code on the ticket and see all the photos from the party. A nice touch, but sorry to say I haven’t even got e-mail yet. Photos will appear in my next column.
Had a great mid-day break when Austrian Airlines hosted a luncheon at the ANA Hotel to introduce their new Grand Class Service for Japan.
Was pretty tied up with promos for “A.I.” and “Pearl Harbor” and this meant missing some important and interesting happenings. These include Italia Expo 2001, a wine, food, housewares and tourism promotion at Hilton Tokyo June 27-29.
Still on Italy, I was, through Warner Brothers’ Bill Ireton, able to invite several people from the Italian Embassy to a special screening of the Cannes Award-winning Italian film, “La Stanza Del Figlio” (My Son’s Room). W.B. will release the film here later this year.
Over at the Czech Embassy, Ambassador and Mrs. Karel Zebrakovsky hosted a musical evening, the 2nd Gala Concert of the Opera Stars.
More music at the New Zealand Embassy when Ambassador Phillip Gibson and his wife Chansuda hosted a piano recital in their home.
On July 3, two good friends, Ecuadorean Ambassador Marcelo Avila and his wife Maria Teresa, hosted a sit-down dinner for two more good friends, outgoing Philippines Ambassador Romeo Arguelles and his wife Azucena (Annie}. The previous Sunday, at the Franciscan Chapel Center, Romeo presented a substantial amount of money from several worthwhile events to the chapel’s Help the Street Children of Manila program.
On July 13 (tonight), Brunei Ambassador Dato Paduka Malai Haji Ahmad Murad and his wife Datin Haja Rafeah will host a reception at the New Otani, and the occasion is the 55th birthday celebration of the Sultan of Brunei.
I also got a sneak preview of W.B.’s “Rock Star” starring Mark Wahlberg. This was especially interesting and timely, as I was right in the middle of reading The Dirt, a book by long-time buddies, rockers Motley Crue. More on that later.
Still on films, partied at the Lex with all here for “Pearl Harbor” (Ben Affleck was great) and had a long conversation with “A.I.” 13-year-old actor Haley Joel Osment. What an amazing kid! More on all this next column.
New visa regulations to Pakistan allow tourists from most countries to receive a landing permit, valid for 30 days upon arrival. They are also processing requests for longer stays, up to three months, “in a polite, courteous and prompt way.”
I spent 10 days in Pakistan in 1999, am working on a story about that exciting travel experience and hope to visit the colorful and interesting country again.
While we’re on colorful, interesting and exciting countries, I’d like to recommend a getaway I can guarantee will be one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
Last September, I flew to Papua New Guinea for the spectacular three-day Goroka Show in the Eastern Highlands. Tribes came from a over the mountains of PNG and the costumes, music and dancing have to be experienced to be believed. The equally exciting Mount Hagen Show is scheduled for Aug. J 8-19 and the Goroka Show Sept. 14-16 this year.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender