What linked them, and other famous faces, was their promotion of Japanese whisky, each sipping it in TV advertisements like it was nectar of the gods.
Bill Murray's sardonic character in "Lost in Translation" may have mocked the image of sophistication that Japanese whisky manufacturers liked to portray from the 1970 to the 1990s, but since 2001, Japanese whisky has been steadily picking up awards and gaining the plaudits of international whisky connoisseurs without the need for a knowing smirk or wink.
The first commercial whisky distillery in Japan was founded in 1923 in Yamazaki near Kyoto, and despite there being less than ten distilleries around the country, Japan is the world's third largest whisky producer behind Scotland and the U.S.
What the country lacks in its diversity of distilleries, it makes up for in size, with most owned by Japan's big breweries. While "Lost in Translation" fans really can make "relaxing times, Suntory time," connoisseurs can compare and contrast Japanese whisky from areas as diverse as Hokkaido and Mount Fuji with Scotch from Scotland's highlands and islands.
One man who is proud to bring the best of Japan's whisky to the rest of the world is Ichiro-san with his b.a.r. EXECUTIVE, a whisky bar situated on the top floor of a skyscraper in Hong Kong. The 51-year-old opened his own little piece of up-market Tokyo seven years ago and has since been serving more than 300 types of whisky from across the world to visiting Japanese businessmen and a growing number of the city's whisky lovers.
"There was nothing like this before; it was all terrible low quality," he says referring to the bars in Hong Kong. His hand-carved balls of ice, dapper appearance and flourish for mixing cocktails are as much of a lure for the bar's drinkers as the array of tempting amber bottles.
For Ichiro, no matter where whisky is from or who may be promoting it in an advertisement, it still represents the height of quality and class. Japanese whisky, he says, is notable for the high technique in its production.
And his reasons for taking Japanese whisky out of Japan? The answer is as straightforward as the name of his establishment: "Why? Because I am Japanese and I enjoy whisky."
No Hollywood actor could have said it better.
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