Going to the Philippines, Halloween happenings here and a heavy travel and party schedule the rest of the year added up to my having to turn down a really great invitation. Taj Enterprises, after super successful showings here of jewelry designer Kazuo Ogawa’s Egyptian and South African Platinum collections-the “Queen of Egypt” and “Heart of Africa” — were shown in New York City Oct. 23 and 24.
From there, the Egyptian Collection moved to Washington, D.C., for a special evening Oct. 27, hosted by former Egyptian Ambassador to Japan, now Ambassador to the U.S., Nabil Fahmy and his wife Nermine. New York guests included consuls general, U.N. ambassadors and an A list of New York society.
My sincerest appreciation to Taj Enterprises President Atul Parekh, Egyptian Ambassador Mahmoud Karem and his wife Yasmina for the truly special invitation, and I’m really sorry I couldn’t go. Who says boys (men) don’t cry?
Over to the Westin Hotel where Singapore Ambassador Chew Tai Soo and his wife Penne hosted a glittering reception on the occasion of their country’s National Day. It was wallto-wall Japanese government officials, diplomats and business leaders there to congratulate the popular couple on this special occasion. There were flowers everywhere, and the bountiful buffet featured a variety of the wonderful ethnic foods one finds in Singapore.
To celebrate their Constitution Day, Slovakian Ambassador Mikulas Sedlak and his wife Anna hosted a mid-day reception at their embassy. The Sedlaks are a popular, outgoing couple, and there was a good turnout that day. Congenial hospitality, interesting people and a wonderful buffet of Slovak food, all in a laid-back mood, added up to a very enjoyable celebration, perfect for the occasion.
I was sorry to hear Qatar Ambassador Ahmed A. Al-Kha! and his lovely wife Hessa had to leave before their National Day celebration, but duty called. Charge d’ Affaires Saud A. Al-Sowaidi hosted the evening of legendary Arab hospitality and did a fine job.
It was SRO at The Space in the Hanae Mori Building when Hanae showed her 2000 Fall-Winter Haute Couture Collection. People there included Richard Mei and his daughter Ayame. Richard has left his job as First Secretary (Press) with the U.S. Embassy and is now with Merrill-Lynch. Ayame studies taiko (Japanese drums) and had a Hanae Mori doll she had bought in Singapore, and the designer graciously autographed the doll box for her. The controversial (she likes to be) Dewi Sukarno was also there and, I tell you, she looks good. The collection was original, dynamic and chic, proof positive of why Mori ranks high among the world’s best fashion designers.
My thanks to Kyodo Tokyo for the great seat at the International Forum for “Soul,” the new production by unbelievably talented Spanish dancer Joaquin Cortes. The fire, passion and energy of Joaquim, his dancers, singers, guitarists and drummers, was this type of performance at its very best.
What makes it even nicer is Joaquin’s relationship with his group, both on-stage and off. It’s like one big happy family. He is a master of his style of flamenco and contemporary dance. Kudos as well to the dozen or so female dancers; their movement, coordination and timing were perfect.
Armani who, as I mentioned, did the clothes for the Ricky Martin show, did the costumes for Joaquim and his group as well, and it’s easy to see why that man is a leader in his field. From Tokyo, Joaquin flew back to his home in Madrid and will soon tour Mexico.
As Rex Harrison sang in “My Fair Lady,” “Damn, damn, damn.” I really am sorry I had to miss some very important and interesting events around town. These include an open house at Mary and Norman Tolman’s new apartment-gallery in Omote Sando. Corky made it and says it’s a beautiful place.
I left for Manila Oct. 14, so could have made it to the reception hosted by Spanish Ambassador and Senora Juan Bilena on the occasion of their National Day. Unfortunately, I did not get the invitation until I got back to Tokyo, a week after the celebration. I really am sorry about that.
Wow! Just discovered I missed the sayonara party for Croatian Ambassador Oavorin Mlakar and his wife Marina, for the reason mentioned above. I really would have liked to say sayonara to this nice couple. I do wish them all the best back home.
Happy to read that long-time friend and noted Filipino designer Petoy Moreno was just presented with yet another special award, The Art of Life. He’s an exceptional man.
It was also nice to read that another friend, Imelda “Meldy” Cojuanco, gave several scholarships to needy students at her big birthday bash.
Newly appointed Qatar Ambassador Reyad Ali AlAnsari was in town but hadn’t as yet presented his credentials. His wife Muna was there, and she shares the warm and friendly personality of her predecessor Hessa who, by the way, is the brother of former Qatar Ambassador to Japan (1981-1989) Mohamed Al-Ansari.
I visited him in Riyadh a few years ago when he was Ambassador to Saudi Arabia. The world gets smaller. The photo of the new ambassador and his wife was taken later at the Saudi Arabian National Day celebration.
I know a couple of foreigners who were singing the jailhouse blues recently. Sorry about that but, believe me, they brought it on themselves. The first, a young French guy who was even more obnoxious when he was drunk than sober, pulled a surprise attack and hit Hitoshi Nakamura in the eye. Nakamura-san is the big, but gentle, security guy at the Lex. I saw it all on video, and Hitoshi did not deserve this. The Azabu police felt the same way, and the Frenchman spent almost two weeks in jail. As soon as he got out, he hopped on a plane and headed home to avoid paying any damages. But he’s on computer now and will have to pay if he comes back.
The second incident involved a little a big (tall and a little overweight) Australian who was also very drunk. It was 5 a.m., and he was near Sereyna in Roppongi when he punched a small Japanese guy in the face. I know the Japanese guy; he’s a really nice young man, and witnesses said he did nothing whatsoever to bring this on. As they were putting the Australian in the police car, he got cocky and told his friend, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back in 10 minutes.” That’s a joke–the police paperwork on something like this takes two to three hours or more. He spent the night in jail and got out by using the lame excuse, “I’ve got a Japanese wife.” She was loyal and did go to help him but he, by the way, couldn’t have been thinking of her when he was staggering around Roppongi at 5 on a Sunday morning.
Frankly, the police are getting a bit tired of this kind of behavior and are justifiably out to punish the offenders. Those times when you can get in a fight with or hit someone in Roppongi are pretty much over. You don’t want to spend even one night in jail here, so chill out when you’re out.
A friend told me about an unusual (1 think) happening he witnessed in an Osaka subway. A Japanese (he thinks) man grabbed a woman’s purse and took off. She screamed, “Dorobo!,” and several men started to chase him.
He jumped across the tracks, but there was no place to go, so he threw down the purse, pulled out a knife and jumped back on the main platform again. He made some stabbing motions with the knife, the crowd moved back, and he got away. I’m glad the lady got back her purse but sorry the thief was not caught.
There is more and more purse-snatching going on now, so don’t carry a lot of cash, carry a copy (not the original) of your passport and be careful.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender