May 15th – June 4th, 2009

by Bill Hersey

As the old saying goes, look for the silver lining, and that’s what we should all do. I’m happy to report that there are some positive things happening out there, and I just know things will get better for everyone. Over in Roppongi Hills, Giorgio Armani will open a huge new store near Louis Vuitton in June. One of my Italian friends, Cristiano Scognamiglio, will open his new cameo boutique on Gaien Nishi Dori in June, and a Sri Lankan friend is opening a jewelry shop in Hiroo soon. Another friend, Martin Webb, was involved in the launch of the first Japan branch of the super popular, fun, and inexpensive fashion store Forever 21. I’m sure that will do well. Congratulations to all concerned and we wish them all the best.

 

The Tamadas’ Shanghai Night Party at the Grand Hyatt

One of Tokyo’s top event planning teams got together again, and once again came up with one of the most original, classy, and fun evenings ever. The people involved included the host and hostess Yuji and Konomi Tamada; our city’s most talented and capable party planner Anri Schroff; and the Grand Hyatt’s executive chef extraordinaire Josef Budde. I was a guest at the same group’s fantastic Halloween Party, and knew this was going to be very special, which it certainly was in every way. Like the first party, this one was held at the chef ’s table in the French Kitchen restaurant of the Grand Hyatt. The Tamadas kept the guest list at about 30, which consisted of an interesting mix of showbiz luminaries, sports idols, and the cream of young society here.

Anri, as always, put a lot of work into this project. The ceiling was covered with 40 big, red Chinese lanterns; one wall looked like the entrance to a Buddhist temple; and there were two huge porcelain Chinese lions she had brought up from China Town in Yokohama. There were hundreds of black candles of all different sizes on the long table, which was covered with a black, gold, and silver dragon printed fabric just like the chairs. Chef Budde and Anri are a magic combination when it comes to setting up a unique themed menu and presenting it in a fun, showy manner. There was entertainment by three Chinese girls—a juggler, a musician and singer, and a clown.

The dress code was, of course, Chinese, and I was wearing a jacket that I had had made in Bangkok a few years ago to wear to a Warner Brothers promotional party for Jet Li. It was really funny when one of the more observant guests pointed out that the panels in my jacket were exactly the same fabric as the tablecloth and chair covers—Yuji banged the gong by his seat at the head of the table and announced this really strange and funny coincidence. Anri had no idea I had a jacket with the same fabric she had bought in Yokohama just a few days earlier—talk about strange coincidences.

It was a marvelous evening in every way. If you want to do a party or event that’s really top class and different I strongly suggest you contact Anri—she really knows her business. At a party recently someone told me she should be an ambassador, and in many ways she is.

 

VIP Lunch for Maria Anderson

I dropped by the French Kitchen again—this time to see former Tokyoite Maria Anderson, who was in town with her husband Ron to attend the ILBS Ball. Maria, Lilo Maruyama, and a group of my Japanese lady friends were hosting a luncheon in Maria’s honor. The Andersons were one of the most popular foreign couples in our city’s busy social scene for about ten years, and judging from the number of parties in their honor while they were here, they still are. I’ll have a rundown and photos on the dinner Sho and Mary Katayama hosted in their honor at the Tokyo American Club—HIH Princess Takamado was the special guest at that one. The Andersons were also special guests at a birthday party Norman Tolman hosted for his grandson Lucas in his beautiful, spacious apartment in Kamiyacho.

 

St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Omotesando

Like just about everyone I know, I love a parade, and this year the St. Patrick’s Day parade in Omotesando was bigger, better, greener, and more festive than ever. Harajuku was a sea of Irish green, with not only the participants, but most of the spectators getting in the mood and wearing a bit of green.

Irish Ambassador Brendan Scannell and his wife Margaret really got out and mixed with the crowd, and they were obviously enjoying every minute of it. This year they were able to share it all with their pretty daughter Aoife and granddaughter Aoibheann, who were visiting here from London, where Aoife’s husband, Nicolas Gibson, works.

The parade featured bands, drum majorettes, Irish musicians and dancers, banners, huge Guinness beer bottle balloons, a few leprechauns, and lots of Irish and their Japanese friends just having a good time. As always, the beautiful dogs attracted a lot of attention. A few were wearing bonnets, ribbons, and even a ballet tutu. Oh well, it was all in good fun. I’m happy to report that the weather was perfect that day and the head of Guardian Angels, Keiji Oda, who was there helping with his volunteers, told me that everything ran smoothly with no major problems at all.

 

At the Fantastic French Film Festival

My sincerest thanks to Koichiro and Daniele Yoshikoshi for the opportunity to attend the opening screening of La Belle Personne and inaugural party for the Festival Film Francais. Koichi keeps writing best-seller business books and had to make a speech that night at a business dinner. Needless to say, I was really happy to accept his offer to let me escort his super chic and nice wife Daniele to the opening events of the festival. Kudos to Alain Simon, president and CEO of SG Private Banking (Japon) Ltd., who hosted the evening. Believe me, it was first class all the way.

My French, sorry to say, just isn’t there, but I still enjoyed the film on high school kids in France. The fashions were fun and the hairstyles off the wall. The story had a bit of everything—straight love, gay love, loneliness, rivalry, heartbreaks, and even a suicide.

After the film in the Roppongi Hills Toho Theater we walked to the Grand Hyatt and joined a huge crowd of Tokyo’s movers and shakers at the French Kitchen for a laid back and thoroughly enjoyable evening with lots of good friends and interesting people. Once again chef Josef Budde and his staff went all out to prepare and present a truly superb buffet. The highlight of the evening for most people there (including me) was getting the opportunity to meet and talk with French film star Juliette Binoche (of Chocolat and The English Patient). She, as you can see by the photos, is absolutely gorgeous, and I might add, really outgoing and nice. I also really enjoyed getting to know French Ambassador Philippe Faure—what a cool man. It all added up to a grand evening, just perfect for the occasion.

 

Just Talk

Most of us love desserts, and those that are really into gelato, chocolates, pastries, etc. know that the Italians really excel and come up with some of the best sweets in the world. I strongly suggest you drop by the Hilton Tokyo anytime between May 11 and June 30 for their special collection of classical Italian desserts. Titled ‘The Art of Italian Dolce,’ the promotion will run daily from 2:30 to 6:30pm in the hotel’s popular and chic Marble Lounge. It’s an all-you-can eat buffet that includes coffee or tea at ¥3,600. In addition to desserts there will be homemade focaccia and pizza.