As always, travel means missing out on some very interesting and important happenings in ol’ Edo. Sorry about that, but in no way was I going to pass up an invitation to one of my favorite destinations – the Philippines. Especially since it included a fist-in-a-long-time visit to Cebu and a three-day stay at the truly fabulous Shangri-La resort on Mactan Island. More on all this later.
On Monday, Feb 28, Kuwaiti Ambassador Walid Ali Al-Khobaizi hosted a grand reception at the Imperial Hotel on the occasion of the National Day of the State of Kuwait. I have some wonderful memories of three visits to Kuwait, and Walid is a true friend, so I really do regret not being with him and his many friends for what I hear was a great evening.
Thor and Eva Larsen invited friends to “An Evening With Joan.” Joan Shepherd, that is. After more than 25 years of fame and accomplishments in Japan, Joan is making the big move back to the good ol’ USA. That lady will be missed. An evening at the Larsens’ gave guests the opportunity to see what a talented interior designer is Eva and that she and Thor are warm hosts.
I hope to get to know Bulgarian Ambassador Peter Andonov better in the future. Meanwhile, my thanks for the invitation to the reception he hosted in his home on Mar. 3 to celebrate the National Day of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Also sorry I missed the Culture Club concert. Controversial or not, Boy George has a great voice. His rendition of “The Crying Game” from the movie of the same name is one of my favorite contemporary songs. Years ago, Boy dropped by the Lex with his band. He’s tall, a bit overweight and, with his makeup and costumes, really stands out in the crowd.
As soon as he left the VIP section of the club to go to the restroom, a young Japanese girl grabbed him by the arm. He never slowed down but dragged her – still clutching his arm – across the dance floor to where I was standing, batted his (?) eyelashes a couple of times and said, “Please detach whatever has hooked itself onto my arm.” We literally had to pry his devoted fan off him. George, as you probably know, is not all that keen about girls.
Down Yurakucho way it was Texas night at the Foreign Correspondents Club. Many thanks to the Club V.P. Sandra Mori for the invitation but, once again, I was out of town. I know I would have enjoyed the chili (Corky’s recipe), the C&W music and seeing members and their friends dressed up cowboy and cowgirl style.
Once again, United Airlines V.P. Jim Brennan who I often mention as one of Tokyo’s most civic-minded businessmen, came through Door prices on Texas Night included two roundtrip tickets on United to Dallas. Japan Air Lines supported Texas Night as well, with two roundtrip tickets to any domestic destination.
O.K., let’s move on to some of the local receptions, exhibitions and fairs I did get to. Kudos to Geraldine Willcox, executive director, and the many members who put so much time into making Refugees International-Japan’s prime and prestigious charity event, “The Art of Dining,” a super success.
The exhibition was held at the Westin Tokyo and officially opened with a ribbon-cutting by the always-gracious, always-chic Princess Hitachi, Participants this year included Muazaz Kasrawi of Jordan, Benchapa Krairiksh of Thailand, Anna Bruckner of Denmark, Geraldine, Ingeborg Ina Omachi and Charo Ireton.
The diversity of the table settings reflected the creativity and personality of the participants. Needless to say, it was a very well done and worthwhile exhibition.
IKEBANA INTERNATIONAL FAIR
Kudos as well to the many hard-working and creative women who made the annual Ikebana International Fair at the Tokyo Prince Hotel another great success. I.I. as you probably know, is a worldwide organization dedicated to the promotion of mutual understanding and friendship through ikebana and other related arts of Japan. There are more than 180 chapters in 60 countries, with membership exceeding 10,000.
Ivana Havlosova, dynamic wife of the Czech Republic Ambassador, was the fair chairman. Princess Mikasa, following tradition, toured the ikebana exhibition and the international booths before taking part in the tape-cutting ceremony.
The hotel’s huge Magnolia Room was a beehive of activity as hordes of people, mostly ladies, moved around enjoying the marvelous ikebana arrangements, purchasing handicrafts, fashion and accessories from the embassy booths and homemade baked goods.
I appreciate the invitation for the afternoon tea party with Princess Mikasa but unfortunately had to go on to something else. The I.I. Fair also featured a program of entertainment and a raffle drawing.
EVENING IN GUAM
Executive Travel, Continental Airlines and the new Outrigger Guam Resort recently hosted an “Evening in Guam” reception at the Tokyo American Club. Just three hours from Tokyo, the island has a unique culture and a vast array of shopping at the completely renovated Micronesian Mall, with its more than 100 department stores, boutiques, shops and food outlets.
Guam USA has the biggest K-Mart in the world, hundred of fine restaurants of every kind and Asia’s largest aquarium. The hi-tech theaters show the latest films about the same time they are released in the U.S., and you can see them for the equivalent of about 700 yen. The San Castle, a Las Vegas-type show club, and discos, strip clubs and hostess bars offer something for everyone.
All of the above, of course, are after a day of enjoying the scenic drives, beach activities and a wide variety of water sports. On top of tall
At the reception, Executive Travel President John Delp introduced Continental Airlines’ Alexander K. Hardin who outlined the company’s reliability, statistics, awards and destinations. In addition to their popular Micronesia routes, they’re now promoting their flights to Houston, Mexico, Brazil, Peru and New York.
Outrigger Guam Resort Director of Marketing Tom Goresch talked about the many advantages of staying at his resort – the newest in Guam. The last time I was there, the Outrigger was just completing construction. From the looks of things, it was coming up with everything visitors (both business and pleasure) would want in a resort hotel. In addition to that, it’s located right in the center of things, within walking distance to the Duty-Free Mall, City Air Terminal, Hard Rock Cafe, Sand Castle and Planet Hollywood.
After all kinds of rumors of superstars (Cindy Crawford, Sly Stallone … ) coming for the opening, Guamanians stood about three hours in the sun to see the celebs when they arrived. Believe me, they were disappointed when Charlie Sheen and Don Johnson (who most did not know) were the only “stars” who showed up.
I’ve known Charlie for a long time and like him. He did, as usual, get progressively drunker at the party. Johnson has to rank at the top of the list of the few obnoxious show business people I’ve ever met.
Once they got the two “personalities” through the crowd, they put them in a private area of the restaurant, with big bodyguards and a Chinese girl from Planet Hollywood Hong Kong at the entrance. She let her temporary power go to her head and refused entrance to Jimmy Dee (who, at the time, was chairman of the Guam Visitors Board) and a Guamanian senator who was with him. That was not a happy time.
Back to Don Johnson, I got a laugh out of a story in an American gossip rag, The Star. Seems Johnson was under the knife for a face lift or tummy tuck at the famous (notorious) Dr. Hollywood’s Clinic. According to the report, while Johnson was under anasthesia, the doctor pulled down the sheet, exposing his most private parts, and laughingly told his staff, “Now you see why Melanie Griffith left him for Antonio Banderas.” Hardly ethical but kinda funny.
A big bunch of birthdays the last month or so. Sony Chairman Norio Ohga celebrated his on Jan. 29, Chichan Plessner hers on Jan. 30, Corky his on Feb. 24 and well known personal trainer Mark MacDonald his on Jan. 26.
I had hoped to be at Norio and Chichan’s birthday dinner party at the New York Grill in the Park Hyatt on Sunday, Feb. 27, but that’s the day I headed out to Manila. From all reports, Richard and Baby Handl’s son Marc, manager of the New York Grill, really went all out to make it a very special evening in every way. Congratulations to all.
Our congratulations to Czech Ambassador Josef Havlas and his wife Ivana on the birth of their first grandchild. Teresa was born in Prague on Feb. 17 to Stephan Havlas and his wife Jitka Havlasova. I met Jitka when she was in Tokyo, and she’s as attractive as her mother, Ivana. That’s got to be a beautiful baby.
F-1 driver Eddie Irvine stopped in Tokyo for one day and partied at the Lex before going on to Australia for the Grand Prix. As race car fans know, Eddie’s no longer driving for Ferrari, but has a new contract with Jaguar. We wish him all the best.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender