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Bush celebrates 62nd birthday on the fly
Japan G8 US JPNEV11 6558178
U.S. President George W. Bush, left, shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda after a joint press conference at the G-8 summit on Sunday, July 6, 2008 in the lakeside resort of Toyako, Japan. - photo by Associated Press
    TOYAKO, Japan — Wedged between America’s Independence Day and a summit of world leaders, President Bush’s 62nd birthday got shortchanged this year.
    His advisers tried hard to mark his milestone.
    As he flew to Japan, White House press advisers quietly gathered in a darkened conference room aboard Air Force One. A steward stuck a single candle in a coconut cake. Bush and first lady Laura Bush were invited inside.
    ‘‘Surprise! Happy Birthday!’’ they exclaimed.
    ‘‘He dutifully pretended to be surprised,’’ press secretary Dana Perino said.
    The party for his birthday Sunday was informal; the gift was not.
    The staff presented him with a wooden box made from a giant oak tree that fell on the White House lawn in 2007. Some of the wood from the tree, planted by Benjamin Harrison’s daughter in 1892, had been sent to Texas to be fashioned into a box about 12-by-18 inches. They filled it with notes and cards from members of his senior staff.
    Bush’s birthday also was recognized early, as it has been in the past, on the Fourth of July at the White House where people gather on the South Lawn to watch fireworks.
    Bush isn’t the only Group of Eight leader celebrating a birthday in July. The summit host, Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel also were born in July.
    Food prices are skyrocketing, but it’s the price of a bright red sake cup that’s attracted attention at this year’s summit of industrialized nations.
    When the G-8 leaders raise a rice wine toast with their host at dinner this week, they won’t be drinking out of plastic cups. They will be sipping from a special edition of lacquerware from the Sea of Japan coastal town of Wajima — cups that go for $1,000 a piece.
    The vermillion, 3-inch-tall sake cup made of wood is shaped like a small chalice.
    A cherry blossom is painted on the bottom of the inside of the cup, with YF — for Yasuo Fukuda — written over it in cursive script. The initials of the of other G-8 leaders are arrayed along the inside rim in gold, divided by mother-of-pearl inlay.
    The Wajima lacquerware cooperative, which donated the cups, has approved a special edition of 300 of them for the summit. They are on sale worldwide, but customers will need some patience — the cooperative says the cups are so painstakingly produced that it takes four months to make one.

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