Sunday, December 18, 2011

TRAVELIFE Japan Night: Young geisha coming to Manila

Today, with our work finished for the year and the Christmas socials winding down, it was the first day I could breathe without anxiety in a long time. The first thing I did when I got to the office was arrange a catch-up lunch at UMU, the Japanese restaurant of the Dusit Thani Manila, with Dusit GM Prateek Kumar and PR Directress Danelle Palang.

I really like UMU because of the food, and also because of the great atmosphere. It's the only Japanese restaurant I know in Manila that is spacious and relaxing, and truly beautiful in terms of decor.


Anyway, Prateek, Danelle and I have seen each other in different places over the past weeks, but we've all been so busy to have more than a fleeting conversation. But today we had enough time to sit and relax over an extensive sashimi platter followed by great sukiyaki, and the result was an inspired final plan for Travelife Japan Night, the amazing event Travelife Magazine is organizing together with the Embassy of Japan and the Dusit Thani Manila to promote Japanese culture and to commemorate the strength and resilience of the Japanese people one year after the great earthquake that hit Japan.


"Why are you doing a Japan Night?" They asked me.

The answer is very simple. Each Travelife Night is a labor of love so we only say yes to a few although we're asked to do Travelife Nights by so many groups, tourism organizations and embassies. So, of course, we only say yes to the causes we believe in and to the people we truly want to work with.

And so reason number 1 is having a great team for this project -- the fact that the senior diplomats of the Embassy of Japan are really wonderful to work with, and I can tell that we are going to have fantastic teamwork between the Embassy of Japan, Dusit Thani Manila and Travelife Magazine.

Second, the great earthquake happened in March of this year and I was caught in Tokyo in the worst possible place for an earthquake at exactly the time it occurred. I almost died, but I survived and went through a ten-hour ordeal afterwards.

So I know first-hand what horrors occurred in Japan during the earthquake, even if my experience was probably only 1/10th of the experience of the people in Northern Japan. For Tokyo area, my experience ranks up there as among the worst.

And by February, it'll be almost a year since the earthquake; and since then, the Japanese people have risen up and overcame their disastrous experience. Japan is almost back to normal but tourism isn't. So I personally would like to commemorate the resilience of the Japanese people and to help bring tourism back to Japan in any way possible.

Also, many people perhaps don't remember that Japan and the Japanese people have been at the forefront of almost every disaster in the world, always ready to help out with cash and other forms of assistance to those in need whenever something happens. And this year, it's they who have suffered a disaster, so I would like to return the favor and try and help them out by promoting beautiful Northern Japan as a tourism destination as much as possible.

Third, Japan is a truly wondrous destination with such a deep culture and history. It's also heaven on earth for foodies, techies and design fanatics. It's also got four seasons that give it so much dimension and a natural environment that is breathtaking at its best.

I could go on and on; but what I'd really like is for lots of Travelife readers to attend Travelife Japan Night in February and then to visit Japan and see for themselves its beauty. The best time to go is at the end of March/ early April, when the cherry blossoms are in bloom.


If you've been to one of our events, you'll know by now that we never do ordinary. And I can assure you that we at Travelife Magazine are putting all our resources and our creativity behind this project to ensure that it will be a most spectacular event unlike any other.

This will truly be a rare event in the Philippines. For one thing, we are flying over young geisha -- called maiko -- from Japan for this Travelife event that will include a spectacular degustation dinner especially prepared for Travelife Japan Night by UMU's chef, who used to be the private chef of the Embassy of Japan. That alone should tell you about the quality of the Japanese food you can expect to have at Travelife Japan Night.

I've just seen the proposed menu and it's pretty amazing. So you can imagine what a fantastic event Travelife Japan Night will be, with the degustation dinner and the maiko performance, which will be a first in the Philippines.


Everyone's read Memoirs of a Geisha and/or seen the movie, so many people are fascinated with the idea of geisha and what they represent. But in reality, few have seen geisha or maiko because it usually costs a fortune to see one performing, and tea houses in Japan are notoriously private and notoriously expensive.

An evening with a geisha easily costs thousands of dollars per person, and not a few tea houses also require a personal introduction from a current patron before they let you through the door. It's not enough to flash a credit card or a wad of cash; you need the right connections as well.


But on February 16, Travelife Magazine, the Philippines' leading travel & lifestyle publication, is bringing you maiko straight from Japan for Travelife Japan Night in cooperation with the Embassy of Japan, the Dusit Thani Manila and several other large-hearted corporations.

We at Travelife Magazine always do memorable events, but this will truly be an event like no other. Don't miss it. Places are limited for this special evening so we're starting a preliminary reservations list for those interested in joining us. Call Bernice at Travelife Magazine to get yourself on the reservation list. Prices and other details will be released early next year.

To make a preliminary reservation for
at the Dusit Thani Manila
on February 16:
please call Bernice or Jemma
at 8138400/ 8922620


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