2006 was the Australia-Japan Year of Exchange, which commemorated the 30th anniversary of the 1976 Basic Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation between Australia and Japan. Isabella Acappella’s December 2006 tour was sponsored by Bentine Pty Ltd, a jewellery company who design and make jewellery featuring Australian black, white and boulder opals, as well as Black Tahitian pearls, Australian South Sea pearls and diamonds. Bentine sponsored us to perform at a series of Jewellery Exhibition concerts held at the internationally renowned restaurant La Rochelle in Tokyo and at the magnificent Portopia Hotel in Kobe. La Rochelle is owned by Iron Chef Sakai, who features in the popular television show Iron Chef and is a specialist in French cuisine. Iron Chef Sakai was thrilled with the performances by Isabella Acappella and was incredibly gracious and funny!
Bentine Pty Ltd subsequently pledged generous donations to The Koala Care Centre in Lismore, based at Southern Cross University, and the Japan-Australia Centre Committee.
Isabella Acappella was also invited to perform at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo. The Australian Ambassador to Japan, Mr Murray McLean, attended the concert, as did Father Paul Glynn, the brother of the late Father Tony Glynn. Both Father Paul and Father Tony have had strong roles in working towards reconciliation between Australians and Japanese. We performed in a variety of other locations including Kansai Gaidai University, a Buddhist Temple, Lutheran and Catholic churches, shopping centres and nursing homes. The mayor of Lismore’s sister city, Yamato Takada, hosted Isabella Acappella at a local karaoke bar, where we gave a performance. Then everyone had a go at some karaoke favourites. The mayor particularly requested a sing-a-long of the well loved Japanese song Sukiyaki (Ue o Muite Arukō). A special invitation to perform in front of the Great Buddha within the Todaiji Temple in Nara was a particularly moving highlight of the trip, and a privilege granted only rarely.