Special Supplements

Tokyo Art Foundation's Christmas events

Notable guest appearances light up festivities

The Tokyo Art Foundation (TAF) hosted a four-day Christmas event co-sponsored by Misuzu Corp. and Tachibana Publishing Inc. at The Westin Tokyo in Meguro Ward from Dec. 17 to 20.

The short walk from outside Ebisu Station to the venue was aglow with holiday illuminations and at the actual venue, the second basement floor of the luxurious hotel was filled with guests who had gathered to enjoy the Christmas celebration and various entertainment. The show roster included samba, magic, Chinese acrobatics, Hello Kitty and music performances, as well as talk shows with notable guests.

The hall also exhibited timepieces from about 70 watchmakers, jewelry and perfumes of various brands for a unique Christmas shopping opportunity.

One of the co-sponsors, Misuzu, runs Handa Watch World — a watch retailer that has five stores across Japan; the fifth one opened in November in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture.

Haruhisa Handa, the chairman of TAF and president of Misuzu and Tachibana Publishing, showcased his artistic talents in opera, noh, drama, painting and calligraphy. He also sang live and his paintings were displayed in the hall.

Hiroshi Fujioka, a famous Japanese actor and martial artist who starred in TV commercials for Handa Watch World, appeared in the talk show with Handa on Dec. 19.

On the same day, Katherine Jenkins, a Welsh mezzo-soprano singer and songwriter, attended the event and spoke with reporters.

“I’m thrilled to be back here in Japan,” said Jenkins who has visited Japan at least 10 times. “I love the people, culture and heritage you have here, history. I enjoy very much the cuisine. I also especially love the love of music. I think people here really appreciate classical music, orchestra and good performance.”

Jenkins first met Handa after he invited her and other famous singers to perform at one of his concerts in Tokyo a few years ago.

“I don’t think you really appreciate his big heart and personality until you meet him (Handa). I think he is wonderful and obviously incredibly talented. He is passionate about everything he does,” she said.

Jenkins is also invested in the art of giving. “I have always been involved in charity. When you have success in your life, it’s your responsibility to give back,” she said.

These charities include work that supports cancer patients and Tusk, which works to protect endangered animals. Tusk is also one of the charity organizations supported by the International Sports Promotion Society that Handa chairs.

Regarding if there is any possibility of working with Handa in philanthropy, she said, “That’s a great idea. I believe when you do charity, you should choose things that are very close to your heart. I think it requires Dr. Handa and I sit down and have a conversation.”

On Dec. 20, American actor, director and producer Nicolas Cage spoke with reporters shortly after 6 p.m. prior to a talk show with Handa.

Asked how he would like to change the world, as a person active on the world stage, he said, “I have hope, but I don’t think I can change the world. I think it takes many people collectively over time to make a difference.”

He went on to say that the greatest hope is of course for a peaceful world. “What I believe is that world peace begins at home,” he said. He explained that efforts to keep peace at home eventually go through the world, making it a happier place.

He also mentioned the role of education in attaining world peace. “It is important for young people to learn and enjoy each other’s cultures. I think the world would be a very boring place if everyone ate the same things, spoke the same language and listened to exactly the same music,” said Cage.

He said that the world will be a better place if children grow up enjoying what they can learn from various countries in the world. “To not be afraid of doing so, but to celebrate it — it is where education can help,” he said.

After the press interview, Cage and Handa’s talk show took place in the hall where Handa Watch World’s watches and jewelry, as well as Handa’s paintings, were displayed. The two were received with enthusiastic applause.

Handa introduced Cage as an outstanding actor who can play an angel in one film and a helpless alcoholic in another. In the recent movie released in November in Japan, “Mandy,” he plays a vengefully manic logger.

In the upcoming film “Prisoners of the Ghostland,” Cage is collaborating with Japanese director Sion Sono and will play the main character in the post-apocalyptic action thriller. “Sono is a highly regarded filmmaker and it is the wildest story I have ever read,” said Cage.

Cage has had a connection with Japan since his childhood thanks to his late father August Coppola. Having been a professor of comparative literature, Coppola exposed Cage to many works of Japanese film and literature. Miyamoto Musashi’s “The Book of Five Rings,” a book about Japanese swordsmanship and martial arts, was one of the most inspiring books he read in his youth.

Cage was also greatly inspired by films such as “Rashomon” and “Yojimbo,” directed by Akira Kurosawa who was also friends with his uncle, director Francis Ford Coppola.

“I am also a great fan of ‘Brave Raideen,’ a Japanese super robot cartoon series, the Godzilla series and Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films,” said Cage.

Handa and Cage also talked about Handa and Cage’s father’s work with the visually impaired. Handa has been hosting blind golf events for the last 30 years while Cage’s father built the Tactile Dome museum where visitors navigate and experience exhibitions in total darkness, relying on their other senses.

“He also blindfolded himself for three months and wrote a novel based on the experience. It is about a ballerina and a returned soldier who decided to live together in total darkness,” said Cage.

Handa and Cage also discussed their common interest in supporting individuals through sports and the arts.