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~The New York Times




86 - Dinner with Ambassador and Mrs. Kanji Yamanouchi

On June 25th we had a fantastic event hosted by the Consul General of Japan, Ambassador Kanji Yamanouchi, at his residence.

One note of interest, there is a very important diplomatic tradition in Japan - the Consul General of Japan to New York, and New York alone I believe, is referred and addressed as to as Ambassador. I believe it is because the diplomatic post to New York is considered an Ambassadorship - and if you think about it rightly so.

The evening started with a Rakugo performance attended by 70 guests of Ambassador Yamanouchi. It was a great audience and very kind - the kind that laugh a lot. People were very enthusiastic when I announced our opening date for Broadway. A few in the audience were in attendance at my first show off-Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse where we ran for three weeks last November, so they know that our Broadway debut has been a long time coming!

Ambassador Yamanouchi made a great speech to kick things off (as usual). He gave me a wonderful comment, calling me both a powerful weapon and bridge for Japanese culture in the world. I have been called a bridge before but never a weapon - I kind of like it...

"Sunshine is a weapon...!" I like it!

After the show we had an amazing reception with Slovenian wine donated by my dear friend Emil Gaspari. He made a brief comment to the audience between the show and the party saying, "Unlike Sunshine, I only sell liquid language." Emil is so amazing with words - half of what he comes up with should be in a book. Liquid language.

After the reception Ambassador and Mrs. Yamanouchi hosted a dinner for my co-producers and me - the official chefs prepared an absolutely amazing Japanese meal and the conversation was more than lively.

One thing puzzled me.

Ambassador Yamanouchi occasionally consulted his iPhone.

These days this is completely normal, and Ambassador Yamanouchi is not your normal Ambassador anyway. He is an accomplished guitarist and rock musician. He fronted a Beatles cover band most recently at the annual Japan Day in Central Park a few weeks ago. His fashion is also extremely cool when he is on private time - I have a picture of his shoes and my shoes while we were toasting our birthdays which are two days apart as it happens.

Can you guess which shoes are the Ambassador's and which are mine?

So it is not that surprising that a fully modern and hip Ambassador might be glancing at his smart phone. And then it hit me.

He asked everyone in order what music they liked. It took me a while to realize that after he found out one guests musical taste, that music was playing for the next twenty minutes. He was controlling the music from the table.

Ultimate hospitality - the Ambassador was also the DJ!

On a final note the evening was also a celebration for Tomofumi Horiki, the Cultural Attache whose three-year work at the Consulate in New York finished with that dinner! Horiki-san has been very kind and supportive for the last two years so thank you my friend!

And one crazy element - I left the Ambassador's residence at 10pm to head straight to JFK to fly to Korea and then to Osaka for the G-20 Summit. What a schedule.

Made me feel very professional for a couple of days.

Now I just feel jet lag... lol

Thank you so much Ambassador and Mrs. Yamanouchi for your generous hospitality and for the opportunity to introduce our Broadway project to your dear and important guests.

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Nov 15, 2023


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