lt’s been woman power at its best for many of our city’s recent social happenings. At the New Zealand Embassy, Ambassador Phillip Henry Gibson and his wife Chansuda hosted a reception in honor of visiting New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.
It was, as you might imagine, wall-to-wall VIPs that night, and I was very impressed with the prime minister’s efforts to take a few minutes and talk with so many people. Also happy to hear from the lady herself that her visit to Japan was “busy, interesting and well worthwhile.”
Still more-lots more-busy, community minded women working hard from early a.m. until late afternoon at the ANA Hotel. They were there to guarantee the success of the Asia Pacific Ladies Friendship Society’s annual festival. Each of the participating countries had booths selling ethnic handicrafts, fashion and accessories.
In addition, most had booths selling the best homemade foods from their countries. I tried the Thai green curry, Filipino adobo and Malaysian satay, all delicious. I also ended up with a couple of boxes of coconut macaroon cookies given to me by Annie Arguelles. How did she know they are one of my favorites?
The program featured dance and music from Asian and Pacific countries, and it was excellent. Princess Akashino, along with Rebeka Majid (wife of the Bangladesh Ambassador and this year’s chairperson), officially opened the colorful charity event. Our congratulations to all concerned.
I got there a bit late, and my thanks to photographer Rahman Parvez for lending me his photos of the princess and Rebeka. He’s a good guy. There was also a large group of powerful and interesting women at a special dinner party hosted by Ambassador M.N. Marzuki and his wife Nora at the Malaysian Embassy. The delegation of wives of Malaysian Parliament was headed by Datin Seri Dr. Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali (wife of the Malaysian Prime Minister) and president of Bakti, a welfare organization which helps people and communities in need.
The program for visitors was organized by Kurniko Hashimoto, wife of former Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto, and it included visits to orphanages and schools for the handicapped. Sorry, I could not stay that evening but am glad I stopped by, met the Malaysian delegation and had the opportunity to see friends including former Prime Minister Hashimoto.
As always, it was a predominantly full house of our city’s best-dressed women at a showing of Jun Ashida’s 2001-2002 Autumn and Winter Collection. The fashion event took place at the Crystal Palace in the Akasaka Prince Hotel, and the collection was, as always, classy, chic and very wearable.
Yoshiko Morita, widow of the late Sony founder Akio Morita, was there, and we did a bit of reminiscing. Also there was Irish Ambassador Declan O’Donovan, just back from a “really enjoyable trip” to Singapore and Vietnam. Bushra AI-Hothl, wife of the Yemeni Ambassador, was wearing a long black dress. She’s always in when she’s out.
Maria Katsareas, wife of the Greek Ambassador, and Maria Elisa Yanagihara both looked great in new shorter summer hair styles. Maria K. has been busy (and happy) with her son Alexi here for summer holidays, and Maria Elisa is busy with preparations for the wedding of her son Andy.
Soline Gordault-Montagne, wife of the French Ambassador, and Hanne Juul Jorgensen, wife of the E.U. Head of Delegation, chose chic slacks and ensembles for the occasion, and they looked great. Charo Ireton was head-to-toe in orange, one of my favorite colors.
I really like the new ramp set-up at Jun’s shaw; it gives everyone the opportunity to see the models and the clothes they are wearing.
It was a busy, interesting and highly motivated women’s event at the Swedish Embassy. The occasion was the fifth International Follow-up Seminar of the World Congress Against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. In addition to several highlevel participants from abroad, present were top-level Japanese politicians and Japan Committee for UNICEF Ambassador Agnes Chan. She used to be a pop singer here.
Government officials, diplomats, business leaders and friends and fans of Pakistan) enjoyed the lavish buffet of Pakistani favorites. In the center of the room a beautiful ice carving of Pakistan’s world-renown K2 mountain (second in height only to Mt. Everest), drew everyone’s attention.
As Rex Harrison sang in “My Fair Lady,” Damn, Damn, Damn. I am really sorry to have missed the reception hosted by Irish First Secretary Peter Mcivor and his wife Bernadette at their home to say farewell. After four years in Japan, Peter, Bernadette and three great kids, Marie, Maeve and Daire, have returned to Dublin. They’ve been good friends and will really be missed.
Also sorry to miss the buffet dinner hosted by Luxembourg Ambassador Pierre Gramegna and his wife Sylvie in honor of the International Ladies Benevolent Association (ILBS) Cherry Blossom Ball 200 I. The ball, according to all reports, was the best ever, and this was Sylvie’s way of thanking the sponsors for their support. She’s an exceptional lady in every way.
Hollywood has certainly come to Japan the last few weeks, and you’ve got blockbuster films such as Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.” (Artificial Intelligence) opening June 30, and Buena Vista’s “Pearl Harbor” opening on July 14.
To promote “A.I,” Warner Brothers brought in 12-year-old Haley Joel Osment, the star of the film, and held a glittering premiere at the Budokan. Prince and Princess Takamado were special guests at the charity screening.
Buena Vista International Japan hosted a “super premiere” of “Pearl Harbor” at Tokyo Dome on June 21, and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Michael Bay, star Ben Affleck and top Buena Vista international execs flew in for the gala.
Special guests that evening included high-ranking Japanese government officials, diplomats, business leaders and show business personalities. I’m looking forward to spending time with Jerry, Michael and Ben all of whom I know from their “Armageddon” promo here a few years ago.
Other exciting summer movie releases include “The Mummy Returns,” and the sequel was really packing them in at one of every three theaters when I was in Manila in early June. UIP brought the star, Brendon Fraser, here for a two-day promotion.
Twentieth Century Fox will release the much-anticipated new “Planet of the Apes” in late July. Hopefully, director Tim Burton and several of the all-star cast members will make it over our way to promote that one. As you can see, there is something for everyone, so check them out at your theater.
Speaking of theaters, was really surprised when Bill Ireton told me Japan has only 2,500 screens, compared with 37,000 in the U.S. That is one of the major reasons why movies usually open here later than in the States and other countries.
Still on the movie scene, a friend who serves as a bodyguard for Leonardo di Caprio when the actor comes to Japan, called and asked if I had time to get together with him and actor David Duchovny (“The X-Filies”). Unfortunately, it was their last night in town, and I had other commitments. David was here to promote his new film, “Evolution.”
I saw “Pearl Harbor” at a media screening and really enjoyed the threehour epic. I have to admit, as the only foreigner in an audience of nearly 100, I felt a little strange at times.
The world lost a great actor and an interesting and dynamic man when Anthony Quinn died recently. I had first met Anthony backstage at the musical version of “Zorba the Greek” in San Francisco. I told him he was great, and we ended up having dinner at Fisherman’s Wharf.
I got together with Anthony a year or so later at his Manhattan apartment where I checked out, but couldn’t afford to buy, his sculpture. He lived a long, exciting and productive life and died at 86.
Four months ago when I was driving on the highway from Manila to Pagsanjan Falls, I saw a huge billboard advertising a mortuary. It read, “A Time to Live, a Time to Die.” Last month when I made the same trip, the sign had been changed to say, “A Time to Live, a Time to Rest.” Whatever, it gives one something to think about.
Received a nice letter from a long-time friend, Hisanaga Shirnazu who, after 14 years of duties with Sony, has retired. Hisanaga is married to Takako, sister of HIM Emperor Akihito, and he plans to continue promoting friendly relations with foreign countries and to concentrate on matters of the conservation of the natural environment, one of his primary interests.
Got an e-mail via Corky from former Tokyoite JoAnn Ug and learned her son Garret (Gary) who lives here now, will celebrate his 40th birthday on July 9. I see Gary once in a while; he’s busy and looks great.
On June 15, fashion designer Junko Koshino’s mother, Ayako, celebrated her 88th birthday and, boy, does she look great. To honor the occasion, her three daughters, Junko, Michiko and Hiroko (all successful designers), held a glittering star-studded party at the Imperial Hotel. More on this later.
Sad to see the son of the late fashion designer Ichiro Kimijima lost the beautiful Kimijima Building behind McDonald’s on Omote-Sando. I traveled with lchiro and his fashion entourage when he did shows in Beijing and New Delhi, and I remember how proud he was of that building.
Another friend, Watanabe Productions Chairman and CEO Misa Watanabe, bought the building, and her daughter Miki recently opened a live house in the basement.
The Lexington Queen (Lex) just celebrated its 21st anniversary. Where does the time go? The funky little club’s still going strong with a mad mix of interesting people. In the last month or so, people partying there have included Offspring, REM, Billy Corgan and James Iha (formerly of the Smashing Pumpkins), Linkin Park, Head and G. Love and Special Sauce.
Just picked up a copy of Motley Crue’s book The Dirt at Shibuya Tower Records. Jim Bailey had e-mailed accounts of a couple of their happenings at the Lex and models (some good, some bad), and I’m interested in seeing what else they have to say about their Tokyo tours.
I’ve got a couple of stories of my own but will save those for my book.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender