Indian Ambassador Aftah Seth and his wife Nilima hosted a glittering gala dinner at Hilton Tokyo. The evening featured many of the events to celebrate India’s 50 years of diplomatic relations with Japan. Special guests included HIH Prince and Princess Hitachi who, along with everyone else, enjoyed the Indian food, cultural show, fashions and Indian inspired jewelry by Kazuo Ogawa. Popular and very active Diet member Kiyoko Kusakabe said, “Bill, I’d like to give you my new card.” The exceptional lady is now a professor at one of Japan’s most prestigious schools, Atomi University.
We had an evening of Egyptian warmth and hospitality at the Egyptian Ambassador’s residence when the ambassador hosted a reception to celebrate Egypt’s National Day. We all missed Yasmina, but she was in Paris with the Karems’ daughter Myral and her family. Egypt and the USA have enjoyed a long-standing and good relationship. I was happy when U.S. Ambassador Howard Baker was able to take time from his always-busy schedule to congratulate the Egyptian people through Mahmoud. I chatted with Tunisian Ambassador Salah Hannachi who’s a temporary bachelor. His wife Lynn, who’s also a professor, had returned to Tunis to teach a semester at the university there. Egypt Air’s Regional Manager for Japan and Korea Abdel Wahab, just back from Cairo, introduced me to his personable new Tokyo office manager Harndy Abdel Ghaffar. I’m sure he’ll do well here. It was a most pleasant evening at the Ka rems, perfect for the occasion.
First, there was the awards ceremony at the home of Nicaraguan Ambassador Harry Bodan Shields and his wife Raquel. The ambassador bestowed the Order of Jose de Marcoletta (Grand Cross) on Tanei Yamaguchi for the House of Representative member’s efforts in promoting Japanese-Nicaraguan relations.
Then on Oct. 21, Bolivian Ambassador Eudoro Galindo hosted a reception on the occasion of the opening of his photo exhibition and, at the same time, to bid sayonara to Japan. The exhibition-titled “Leaving Japan: the Withering of the Flower,” featured photos which showed Japanese natural beauty at its most lovely. After five years in Japan, Eudora will return to Bolivia to become heavily involved in some interesting and worthwhile projects.
On Oct. 22, Archbishop Ambrose B. de Paoli (Holy See) was host at a midday reception at the Apostolic Nunciature. The occasion was the 24th anniversary of the inauguration of the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope John Paul II. Our congratulations.
That same evening, Hungarian Ambassador Istvan Szerdahelyi and his wife Reiko hosted a musicale at their home featuring pianist Janos Sebestyen. Reiko, as many of you know, is a very accomplished pianist herself. On the following day, the popular couple hosted a midday reception on the occasion of the National Day of Hungary. Once again, congratulations!
It was “Scooby Doo” night all the way at the Lex when Warner Brothers hosted a party for the people visiting here from Hollywood to promote the fun film. Overseas guests included the producer Charles Roven, the director Raja Gosnell, actor Matthew Lillard and actress Linda Cardellini. Local celebs there included Dewi Sukarno, actors Mayo Kawasaki and Yuki Watanabe, TV personalities Kay Ana and Kyoko Spector, Croatian soccer player Igor Cvitanovic and several of Brazil’s top K-I (Pride) fighters. Matthew and Linda, who were really laid back, made a lot of new friends that evening. They also took their turn and became very good al banging on the Japanese taiko (drums). Linda, who you can see by the photos, is beautiful and not the nerd she’s made up to look like in the film. The Warner’s people really appreciated her telling them, “This is the most fun I’ve had for a long time.” You’ll be seeing more of her and Matthew in “Scooby Doo 2” and, I’m sure, many other films as well.
Starting out this column at Starbucks, not my usual hangout in Roppongi but the big open-air Starbucks at Manila’s beautiful new Green Belt Mall in Makati. What a great mall! Don’t really need an excuse to go to Manila, but I used buying Halloween decorations for the Lex party as an excuse for the trip. After an hour or so by the hotel pool, went next door to Robinson’s Mall and checked out the decorations at National Book Store and Robinson’s Department Store. Most of the decorations are made in China, and I got a lot of fun stuff for about US $60. Most of the malls, shops, and restaurants were decorated for Halloween, and there were some wild, original ideas around town. The Filipinos are really good at this kind of thing. All kinds of Halloween happenings all over town as well, and I wish I could have stayed for the open-air “Voodoo Party” at trendy Remedios Circle. That had to be fun.
Over in Tokyo at the Palace Hotel there was another sayonara for yet another good friend. After four years as Cathay Pacific’s regional director for Japan and Korea, Michael Whitehead retired from that job. There was a big turnout that evening. I couldn’t stay long, but said goodbye to Michael, welcomed his successor, Adrian Gane, and had a chance to meet some other interesting people as well. We wish Michael all the best in his new ventures. At the same time, we’d like to wish Adrian a long, happy and successful stay here. Cathay has a new home in Tokyo. They recently moved their headquarters in Yurakucho to Ginza Namiki-dori Building, 2-3-6 Ginza, Chuo-ku.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender