I may be ahead on getting it all together but will be a bit late on covering some of the many pre-holiday happenings in town. Thanks for your understanding. As I am usually up all night Saturdays and Sundays in Roppongi, I don’t often get up and out early on those days. Kay Brennan, darn good at convincing, did just that with me, and I’m glad she did. I really enjoyed getting together with and snapping photos of the hard-working bunch of ladies in the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS).
It was at their annual Christmas Fair at the TAC, Tokyo American Club, and they kept busy selling toys, holiday decorations, home-baked goods and raffle tickets. The proceeds, as always with ILBS activities, went to several worthwhile and needy organizations.
I had coffee with one of the Tokyo’s most community-minded business leaders, Jim Brennan, and top prizes in the ILBS raffle were two round-trip tickets to San Fran and two to Hawaii in the Friendly Skies of United. I really like the sports jacket Jim was wearing, and we talked about fashion. He always dresses well, but I had no idea he was so interested in and knows so much about the international men’s wear scene.
Muazaz Kasrawi, wife of the Jordanian Ambassador, along with several of the ladies, bought gifts at the fair for the orphan’s party at the Hilton Tokyo. Muazaz has been super busy with ILBS activities and the visit of Jordan’s King and Queen.
The Karawi’ son Omar lives in the U.S. and flew to Tokyo for the royal visit and to spend some time with his parents. Muazaz will keep on the fast track, as she’s co-chairperson of this year’s ILBS Cherry Blossom Ball, along with Maria Guimarres Reis, wife of the Brazilian Ambassador. It’s a tough job, but no need to worry, Whatever they do, they do well.
The same can be said of Barbar Uribe, wife of the Mexican Ambassador who was chairlady at the Christmas Fair. She, along with her co-chair Clara Kashiwagi and a lot of hard-working ILBS members, made the Christmas Fair a big success.
It was certainly a grand night for singing when Austrian Ambassador Martin Vukovich, his wife Ursula and Walter Nettig, President of the Vienna Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Karl Seitlinger, Director of the Vienna Tourist Board, hosted a glittering event titled “Viennese Gala Evening” at the Imperial Hotel.
Austrian Airlines had flown in members of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra and two of the top opera singers, John Dickie and Marcela Cerno. The marvelous program featured Takarazuka star Maki Ichiro. She played the title role in the Japanese version of “Elisabeth,” an Austrian musical based on the life of Empress Elisabeth.
Seems like I missed as many events as I was able to get during mid-December, and I really am sorry about that. I also appreciate your invitations and kinda feel guilty when I can’t make it.
Dec. 8 was one of those days, I started early preparing for the International Christmas Tree orphans’ party at the Hilton Tokyo. U.S. Ambassador Tome Foley, as you know played Santa Claus, and he was great, as were the more than 30 Santa’s helpers that included ambassadors’ wives and socialites.
Philippines Ambassador Romeo Aquelle’s wife Annie was out of town, so he took time out of his busy schedule to drop by and help, as did a half-dozen Guardian Angels. With the show (a band, Steve Haynes leading the kids in a dance, a vocalist and a clown), the Hilton’s special buffet and lots and lots of gifts, the party ran well past the originally scheduled ending time.
Sincere intentions of going to the new Fred Harris-designed residence of Israeli Ambassador Moshe Ben Yaacov and his wife Aviva for the lighting of the Hanukkah candles. Prince Mikasa joined the Ben Yaacovs for this very important and meaningful evening. The matter of protocol, the way I was dressED (very down) and time made it impossible to get there.
I also had to miss Tom and Choko Arai’s toshiwasure-no-kai (year-end party) at Aoyama Bell commons. I also did not make the reception hosted by Italian Ambassador Gabriele Meneatti, and Maria Paola Profumo, High Commissioner for Tourism for the Liguria region, at the Ambassador’s residence on Dec. 8. The occasion was the launch of the campaign, “The Year 2000 in Liguria.” Our Italian friends do keep busy.
I was able to drop by the Tokyo American Club and, along with their many friends, bade sayonara to Steve and Joanna Bretschneider. I also got over to the Lex where Paul and Nobuko Saito had set up a bonenkai party for 150 people in the travel and tourism business. More on both these events later.
Once again, Belgian Ambassador Gustaaf Dierchx went all-out to make his celebration of Belgian King’s Day something different and special. I got there before the crowd, so I was able to check out the residence art and sample a couple of Godiva chocolates.
There was a variety of photos of Prince Philippe and Mathide d’Udekem d’Acoz who were to be married on Dec. 4. Large monitors had been set up in the residence and on the terrace, with filsm of Belgian theater, opera and dance screened throughout the evening.
Dozens of colorful Japanese plastic masks (the kind you buy at a matsuri) floated in the residence swimming pool. It was artistic and effective, and the more than 900 guests enjoyed the bountiful buffets of superb food set up everywhere. Two chefs were kept busy making Belgian waffles, and talk about delicious!
The big Belgian Festival in Japan in 1999 was a huge success. Bruxelles/Brussels is one of the several cities sharing the coveted title, “European City of Culture,” and it will host many special events in 2000. It was indeed a special evening with Ambassador Dierckx and his friends. Our congratulations.
It was a busy sesons four our Swedish friends. Their Christmas Bazaar was held at the embassy on Dec. 11, and the program included the traditional Santa Lucia performance with candles an carols and there was a delicious smorgasbord. Proceeds from the Swedish Women’s Association event went to several worthwhile causes.
The same evening there was the opening of “Game over 2,” by Swedish artists Bigert and Bergstrom. The program included a performance and short film, “Last supper,” by the noted artists.
On Dec. 13, Japan Committee for UNICEF President Satoshi Sumit, and Director of the Japan UNICEF office Manzoor Ahme hosted a reception at Alaska Restaurant in the Japanese Press Center Building. The occasion was to commemorate 50 year of Japan-UNICEF cooperation and the launch of the State of the World’s Children 2000 report. Our congratulations.
That same night, Davidoff International Senior Vice President Raymond Scheurer, master Davidoff cigar roller Fabien Deaecker hosted a reception to open an exhibition by legendary ceramist Kosei Tsuji and his son Koji. It is titled “From Flame to Flame,” and the reception was held at the Davidoff Boutique in the Hotel New Otani.
The Royal Nepales Ambassador Kedar Bhakta Mathema and his wife Kohinoor kept very busy in December. On the 2nd, they hosted a reception to indroduce the members of the Nepal Tourism Board, in Japan for JATA. I hope to get to Nepal’s Treetop Lodge later this year, as I hear it’s a real adventure.
On Dec. 24, the Mathemas hosted another reception, his one to celebrate the 55th birthday of their King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev.
Congratulations to Alitalia’s Romano Mazzucco, recently decorated by the Italian government. The award was presented by Italian Ambassador Gabriele Menegatti at the embassy residence. Romano, the epitome of good things Italian, was given the decoration for his efforts in building good business relations between Italy and Japan.
His beautiful wife Sandra (she’s Australian) flew in from Rome with their 13-year-old daughter Naila to spend a few days in Tokyo. Then the three flew to Australia to join their son Marco for a family Christmas.
The Lex has been full of young people who went to school in Japan, are now enrolled in universities in the U.S. and were back for the holidays. It’s been interesting to hear about their lives in America and I’m happy to report everyone to whom I spoke likes it there is doing well stateside.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender