Washington Life spoke to Ichiro Fujisaki, Ambassador of Japan, to find out what makes his DC.
Washington Life: How has Washington changed since you last served here in the 1990s?
Ichiro Fujisaki: It has become more open and diversified, and even nicer for elderly people- which I didn’t notice before when I was younger.
WL: How do you ensure that your guests best enjoy a “Japanese experience” when they visit your home?
IF: I have three pieces of ammunition- one of the most beautiful residences in Washington (and it reflects Japanese aethetics); the best team of cooks in the capital; and one of the most gracious and hospitable hostesses- my wife! (I really don’t think I need to say “one of,” but I must be mindful of my fellow ambassadors.)
WL: What were your most memorable American cultural influences when you were frowing up?
IF: Lots of TV shows! “Father Knows Best,” “Lassie,” “Bonanza,” “77 Sunset Strip,” “Route 66,” “Ben Casey,” “The Untouchables,” “The Flinstones,” and “Hawaiian Eye.” I also liked Naopleon Solo and Rick Nelson. You name it, and I was into it. On Japanese TV, all those stars were speaking fluent Japanese, too!
ICHIRO FUJISAKI’S TOP DC SPOTS
We visited this important site within ten days of our arrival here. It shows the long and steep hills that Japanese Americans climbed to get where they are today. I am proud of them.
2. Strolling through Georgetown
This historic neighborhood reminds us of what the good old days must have been like. I feel lucky to be in Washington whenever I go there (not that I don’t feel that way on other days!)
It’s difficult to say this building is particularly special, but the people there are quite the opposite. Will this comment advance my ranking in the order of diplomatic precedence?
Whenever I pass through this elegant hall, I am reminded of a visitor from Tokyo who remarked, “Is this really a train station and not a museum? People aren’t bumping into each other!”
It may not be the most fashionable place to eat, but their white pizza is hard to resist. My family frequented this Bethesda restaurant in the 1990s when I was serving as the embassy’s political officer. After I was appointed as ambassador, my now-grown-up daughters said, “Congratulations Dad, now you can go back to your favorite restaurant!”
6. The Tidal Basin
The Tidal Basin does have the prettiest cherry blossoms I have ever seen- sorry my compatriots! Did you know that 2012 marks the ventennial of the first planting of the cherry blossom trees in Washington? Let’s make it a big celebration!
The zoo has the first and only breeding center for the Japanese giant salamander outside of Japan. If you look at them long enough- don’t ask me how long- they actually do look cute.
8. Georgetown Fleamarket
I try to browse around this Sunday antiques and collectibles market on Wisconsin Avenue whenever I can. If you are lucky, you might find something interesting there.