It’s ball time again. The Irish Emerald Ball will take place on Mar. 9 at the Westin Tokyo. That’s always a lively event, and do I hear a waltz? Happy to report the Austrian community here is bringing the Opern Ball back to Tokyo, and that is sure to be a glittering evening as well. There will be a bit of Strauss, a gourmet dinner and glamor galore at the Mar. 3 event at the Meridian Grand Pacific.
On Friday, Apr. 20, the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS) will hold its annual Cherry Blossom Ball at the Okura Hotel. Sylvie Gramegna, wife of the Luxembourg Ambassador, is chairperson this year. Sylvie, one of Tokyo’s most imaginative and creative ladies, is working hard to make this year’s ball the best yet. The many innovations include a casino and cigar lounge. Tokyo is busy.
Datin Nora Marzuki, wife of the Malaysian Ambassador, did a highly com mendable job as chairperson of lkebana International Fair 2000. The national flower of Malaysia is the hibiscus, and the fair’s theme by Nora, “Flowers, a Beautiful Gift of Nature, Say it All in Every Way and Everything,” was very appropriate.
Princess Mikasa performed the tapecutting ceremony to officially open the special event. The ikebana exhibition was magnificent, there was an international bazaar and bake sale, entertainment and a raffle.
I appreciate the organizing committee’s invitation to the afternoon tea party with Princess Mikasa, but had to leave a bit early. Kudos to Nora and the many ladies who put so much time and effort in making the Fair 2000 a success. Profits from the international stalls were donated to the Save the Children Japan campaign.
lkebana lnternational’s eighth world convention will be held at Pacifico Yokohama from Friday, Mar. 9, through Monday, Mar. 12. For information, call Hanako Sato at tel. 3293-8 I 88 or fax 3294-2272.
The annual Swedish Bazaar was as crowded, as colorful and as fun as ever. Traditional Swedish foods include smorgasbord and hot dogs (are they Swedish?). There was glogg with ginger cookies, beer and snaps and a bake sale of really great goodies.
The highlight of the event was the Lucia performances with the Queen of Light and her attendants singing traditional holiday songs. Proceeds went to the Swedish Women’s Educational Association’s special and very worthwhile projects.
Sweden is leading the Scandinavian boom in Japan and has all kinds of promotional and cultural events scheduled this year. The big one is Swedish Style in Tokyo 2, Oct. 12-28. Japanese government officials, diplomats and their wives, familiar faces from the arts and entertainment worlds and the cream of Japanese and foreign society filled the Akasaka Prince Hotel’s Crystal Palace for the showing of noted designer Jun Ashida’s 2001 Spring and Summer Collection.
It was a very special day for Jun as French Ambassador Maurice Gourdault Montagne, on behalf of the French government, presented Jun with the French National Order of Merit. Our sincerest congratulations, and kudos as well on the collection which was, as always, super chic and very wearable.
There was another relaxed and enjoyable evening with Djibouti Ambassador Rachad Farah and his wife Tazuko Hala and their friends at a dinner they hosted in honor of Rachad’s friend, Pierre Ferchaud.
Pierre is president of what many consider the best hotel in Paris (the world?), Hotel Le Bristol, and guests got the chance to sit and talk with the famous hotelier. It’s been a while since I’ve been in Paris but Pierre convinced me I should visit soon.
The year 2000 represented precisely 1,000 years since the crowning of the first Hungarian king. As an important part of the international celebration for this auspicious event, there was a year-long Hungarian Festival in Japan. The many activities included special presentations of Hungarian literature, theater and fine arts. It was all a big and popular success.
Hungarian Ambassador Istvan Szerdahelyi and his wife Reiko hosted a reception at their home on the occasion of the visit of Zoltan Pokorni, Minister for Education of the Republic of Hungary. That coincided with the closing of the festival. Special guests at the reception included Prince and Princess Takamado, and they’re always pleasant and interesting.
On the occasion of the Japan Tour of the Wiener Staatsoper Oper (Vienna State Opera), Austrian Ambassador Hans Dietmar Schweisgut and his wife Kaoru co-hosted a reception at their home with the representative of the Wien office in Tokyo, Rainer Zoubek, and his wife Annette.
Believe me, it was another grand night for grand singing. The special occasion gave guests the opportunity to meet the director, singers and dancers of the world-renown opera. The program began with a smashing performance by several of the opera’s stars, and this was followed by a bountiful buffet of the best in Austrian foods.
I enjoyed talking with David Cale Johnson, a man from Corky’s home state of Texas who lives in Vienna and is a member of the opera. Ambassador Schweisgut’s personal secretary Jutta Alloway (everyone needs someone as personable and professional) introduced me to one of the opera company’s ballet dancers, Christian Musil, and I got together with him for cappuccino and sacher torte in Vienna just before Christmas.
Jutta, by the way, has a great daughter, Tracy, who drops by the Lex from time to time. I was happy I had the opportunity to get her and few of her friends guest passes to the Wallflowers concert. Heard they went backstage and met (and fell in love with) Bob Dylan’s son, Jacob. The girls have promised me pics for the column – and for the wall at the Lex.
It was wall-to-wall scholars at the home of Irish Ambassador Declan O’Donovan when he hosted a reception to mark the Oscar Wilde Centenary. Guests were treated to a humorous Wilde reading, live Irish music, a splendid buffet and, of course, Declan’s always warm hospitality.
My thanks to Slovak Ambassador Mikulas Sedlak and his wife Anna for the invitation to the performance of the Slovak folklore ensemble Zeleziar. As an anthropology major especially interested in Ethnology, I really like things like this. Unfortunately, I was out of Japan at that time.
I remember Barbara Uribe (wife of the outgoing Mexican Ambassador) telling me, “The more I’m around Tom Foley, the more I respect him.” I feel the same way.
I can say the same about Princess Takamado and, as Linda lnoki wrote in her interview for the July 1 Financial Times, “Beneath the calm exterior of the attractive and perfectly poised woman, there is a lively, inquiring spirit.”
She spent 12 years in Europe and graduated with an honors degree from Cambridge. Her majors included anthropology, archaeology and Chinese. Back in Tokyo, she worked for Delta Airlines and studied two years as a lawyer. Then she met the then-Prince Mikasa, now Prince Takamado, and after a brief courtship, they married in 1984.
In addition to raising their three daughters, the Prince and Princess are involved in endless worthwhile projects, travel extensively and are extremely wellliked by all those who have met them and the general public as well.
Both love nature, and they put considerable effort into environmental causes. Her second book, Lulie the Iceberg, was inspired by the Arctic wilderness and has been translated into several languages.
I’ve had the privilege of knowing the Imperial couple since before they were married and really got a look at the Princess’ thoughtful, kind and caring side when she took time out of her super-busy schedule to help at my annual Christmas party for orphans at the Hilton Tokyo. She really got into it and, believe me, the kids loved her.
One young boy who stayed by her side throughout the party asked if she could visit his school. She promised she would, stuck to her feeling, “You never lie to a child,” and spent a day with him, his sister and the other children at the school recently.
She’s an exceptional woman and a very special human being, but you already know that. If you know her parents, Shigejiro and Fumiko Tottori, you also know where she got her intelligence, warm personality, character and international outlook.
Congratulations to Keiji Oda, just celebrated its fifth anniversary, and I’m happy to report community leaders are becoming more knowledgeable about the Angels and are coming to realize the importance of the volunteer organization.
Cheesecake lovers, and that surely includes me, will be in all their glory at the Hilton Tokyo’s cheesecake buffet that began yesterday (Mar. I) and runs through Mar. 31. In addition to your choice of more than 30 delightful desserts (eat all you want), the ¥2,000 buffet will feature eight kinds of specially created cheesecakes.
I plan to try the pistachio, the apricot cream and the pumpkin and walnut. For info on the special promotion, call 3344- 5111, ext. 219.
Some of these community-conscious groups and individuals helped make it possible for the Guardian Angels to move into new headquarters offices at 9-17-930 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo. Tel. 5459- 2005; fax 5459-2006.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender