Richard W. Mueller, director of Northfield Mount Hermon, one of the world’s most prestigious prep schools, was in town recently with his wife, Claire. Their visit was to orient Japanese who plan to study abroad about their excellent facilities and dynamic program. The school’s two campuses comprise 3,500 acres in Northfield, Massachusetts. Each year, students from about 40 U.S. states and as many other countries are enrolled.
Denzel Washington, who was in town, told me he was still putting back on some of the weight he had to take off for the film, “The Hurricane.” He looked great, though, and had flown from Berlin after winning a Best Actor award and was in a mellow mood. It was a weekday and about 4 a.m., and I was ready to go home. I said, “Denzel, you must be beat and have a plane to catch in the morning.” “No problem, Bill,” he said. “I’ve got my own jet. It’s an occupational hazard.” Sorry Denzel didn’t score at the Oscars, but he’s still young and, with all that talent, he’s sure to have many more chances.
The Lex has been super busy with all kinds of interesting people dropping by the club the last month or so. In addition to Leonardo Di Caprio who partied there three nights in a row, Denzel Washington dropped by with Junko, the daughter of Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu’s international restaurant chain.
Warner Brothers’ Bill Ireton and Weekender’s Sports Editor Wayne Graczyk were both right when they said, “Bet you’ll start this column out with ‘Starting this column on United Airlines Flight 876.”‘ As Corky said several months back when he traveled to the U.S., ‘I’m in my cabin in the sky-and what a cabin it is!” The plane is a Triple 7, and the First Class section is about as modern and high tech as anything can get. Business Class is very special as well, with lots of leg room, reclining seats, adjustable foot rests, flexible reading lights and adjustable and flexible headrests that all add up to maximum in-flight comfort. In Seattle now, and relaxing over a Starbuck’s cappuccino at one of what seems like thousands of Starbuck’s outlets here. Picked up my Hertz at SeaTac (Seattle-Tacoma) Airport, and it’s a brand new (just three miles) Hyundai Accent. The drive from the airport to downtown Seattle took about 20 minutes, and 1 can see why so many ex-pats who leave Tokyo settle in Seattle. Know I’m going to love this city, but more on that later.
On the occasion of the Presidency of the European Union, Portuguese Ambassador Dr. Manuel Gervasio de Almeida Leite hosted a press reception at his residence. I couldn’t stay long but did meet some very interesting journalists from all over the world. The European Union celebrates its 50th anniversary this year.
My sincerest thanks to Netherlands Ambassador F.P.R. Van Nouhays, his wife Renate and Yvonne C.M.F. Van Rooy, chairman of the organization for the commemoration of 400 years of Netherlands-Japanese relations for the invitation to a glittering reception at the Imperial Hotel on Apr. 24. The occasion, in the presence of the Prince of Orange, was of course to celebrate the very special event. Hopefully, the ambassador will get me photos from this.
I’d also like to extend my sincerest gratitude to Hungarian Ambassador Istvan Szerdahelyi for his invitation to a reception to meet the visiting President Arpad Gonez. This year, as many of you know, Hungary is celebrating its millennium. In the year 1000, the State of Hungary was born with the coronation of St. Istvan I. President Gonez’s state visit was very busy and successful. Hopefully, I’ll have photos on this special event as well.
It was a beautiful and busy day in every way at the home of Egyptian Ambassador Mahmoud Karem and his wife Yasmina, where the Society of Wives of Arab Ambassadors and Heads of Mission in Japan held its second annual Arab Bazaar.
Each represented country had set up a booth to sell its own food, fashion, jewelry and handicrafts, and most everything sold out very quickly. The Karems’ daughter Myra! and son-in-law Ihab Fahmy, visiting from Cairo, joined Myral’s sisters, Reem and Anina, in helping their mother. Alia Tangi, wife of the Moroccan Ambassador, also had one of her daughters, Radia, helping that day.
I enjoyed talking with Dutch entertainer Rene Bosman and his wife Takako. Rene volunteered his services at the Hilton Tokyo Christmas orphan party. He also entertained, from what I hear, very well at an end-of-Ramadan party for children hosted by Hesa Al-Kha!, wife of the Qatar Ambassador.
Moroccan Ambassador Mohamed Tangi hosted a power-packed reception for the visiting President of the Moroccan House of Councillors, Mohammed Jalal Essaid, and a high-level delegation. Special guests included former Prime Minister Tsutomu Hata, the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Tokuichiro Tamazawa and Diet member Kenji Kosaka.
I’ve always been a big fan of Kenji’s father Zentaro Kosaka who was one of Japan’s top foreign ministers. l first got to know the man at a party at the Moroccan Embassy for then-Crown Prince, now King Mohammed VI. I hope Morocco gets the 2006 Soccer World Cup, as I know they would make it very special.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender