November 20 – December 3

Bill's People, Parties, Places - November 20th, 2009

with Bill Hersey

It may not be original, but I certainly feel that the old saying ‘the city that never sleeps’ really works for what Tokyo has become. I’m not complaining, but there’s so much happening here in old Edo recently it’s impossible to get to many happenings that I’m sure would be interesting and worthwhile. A lot of friends tell me they’re having the same problem. One of the big problems is that major events are often scheduled at the same time. A perfect example of this was the very busy 22nd Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), which opened October 17 and closed October 25, and Japan Fashion Week, which ran from October 19 through the 23rd.

Most of the TIFF activities took place at Roppongi Hills, and with so many good international films being screened, press conferences, seminars and parties, there really was something for everyone. Kudos to the festival’s director general, Tom Yoda, and his executive staff, who used their experience, knowledge, connections and a lot of really hard work to make it a really great film festival. Kudos as well to the many young people working for TIFF. They worked very hard as well, and were always there when a visitor or participant needed help. All in all, it was a big success, and the many people involved have a lot to be proud of.

Japan Fashion Week took place mostly at Tokyo Midtown. The leaders of Japan’s fashion industry enjoyed a full schedule of shows, press conferences, and party after party. I had to miss the opening event, but I did see a lot of friends at the closing party. I also enjoyed the evening at the Austrian embassy that Ambassador Jutta Stefan Basil hosted for the Austrian delegation here. I heard nothing but raves for the group’s presentation earlier that day.

The Tokyo Motor Show ran from October 23 to the 25th, and the annual Swedish style promotion, which is always fun and trendsetting, ran from October 23 to 26. In addition to all this, there have been many national day celebrtions, as well as art exhibitions, concerts, restaurant and shop openings (including the Marunouchi Brick Square).

Halloween activities here slowed down a bit the last few years, but this year everyone from small restaurants to big clubs went overboard on decorating and celebrating. A couple of commercial minded establishments even had a full week of Halloween parties. I don’t have the time to check out everything, but you can see what’s happening here every day by check out the biggest event calendar in town online at I guarantee you’ll find there’s more than enough to do.

Ink Music Premiere

I really took a walk down memory lane when I went over to the Ritz Carlton for the screening and after party of the documentary Ink Music. The film is about the British lyricist Chris Mosdell, who’s helped launch many Japanese bands overseas. I first got to know Chris about 30 years ago when he worked with composer Ryuichi Sakamoto (The Last Emperor) and the Yellow Magic Orchestra on a theme song for the 1980 opening of the Lexington Queen club in Roppongi. The basement club, which used to be a Shakey’s Pizza, has now changed its name to the New Lex, and is still the favorite hangout of local and international models, showbiz personalities and athletes. It’s really quite amazing how it has kept going and still has an international reputation as one of Tokyo’s most popular hot spots. It’s been a hell of an experience being a part of all this from the very beginning. It was great seeing a lot of longtime friends at the Ink Music blast. These included film producing/directing couple Koz and Fran Kuzui, 80s pop singer Sheena of Sheena and the Rokkets, and event planner Mary Corbett. Ink Music is available at most DVD outlets.

Hanae Mori Presents Young Designers

Over in Omotesando at the Hanae Mori building, the Hanae Mori foundation held a special exhibition during which the noted designer joined a group of young, up-and-coming artists in showing their latest creations. Their work included fashion, illustration and crafts. The exhibition was beautifully done— perhaps the perfect event to close the landmark building, which is in the process of being torn down. It was really nice being with Hanae Mori and her staff, as well as some friends I hadn’t seen for a long time. These included former Imperial Hotel general manager and Mrs. Ichiro Inamura, Jean Ariyoshi, the wife of the former governor of Hawaii, and actress Lisa Akikawa with her lovely daughter Maria.

Moroccan Celebration

Even though many people weren’t back from their summer holidays there was a really good turnout for Moroccan Ambassador and Mrs. Samir Arrour’s reception at the Okura Hotel. The occasion was to celebrate the 10th anniversry of the enthronement of HM King Mohammed VI. I remember meeting the king here in Tokyo when he was the crown prince and being very impressed by his knowledge and international outlook. I’ve also had many great experiences in the ten visits to Morocco, having driven from Tangiers in the north to Tan Tan in the very south of the country. Morocco, with places like Casablanca, Fez, Meknes, and of course everyone’s favorite, Marrakesh, offers even the most jaded traveler an Arabian Nights-like experience. The country’s history, culture and traditions, great hotels and restaurants, friendly and hospitable people, and fantastic scenery make it a favorite among Hollywood insiders like producer Jerry Bruckheimer. He never runs out of stories about filming Black Hawk Down there. Special guests at the Arrours’ reception included former Prime Minister and Mrs. Tsutomu Hata. I ran into them at one of Tamasaburo’s performances at Kabuki-za not long ago. Shochiku president Jay Sakamoto recently told me the Kabuki-za theater will close next year and be completely rebuilt. If you’ve never been there you should try to go before all this happens. It was nice seeing the Hatas again and I’m happy they’re keeping active. The Moroccan food that evening was excellent and the people interesting.

Lorvos’ Gourmet Dinner

It was fine dining at its very best when the Grand Hyatt GM Christophe Lorvo and his wife Alicia hosted an intimate dinner party in the private room at the hotel’s popular Oak Door restaurant. The menu featured Hokkaido crab, lobster, beef, vegetables and a fantastic dessert. I can tell you, Taki really knows what he’s doing. It was all original and delicious. Guests were all leaders in their respective fields, and it was nice seeing old friends and making some new ones as well. I sat by Nandhika Varavarn, who’s a top executive at one of my favorite airlines, Bangkok Airways. I took one of their flights from Bangkok to Cambodia last year, and the service was great. Nandhika is also related to the Thai royal family, and in talking we were both amazed at the number of mutual friends we have. Her husband, Jeff Cook, is with the Jackson Family Wine Estates, and his commentary on the superb wines that were served with each course was interesting and informative. I also enjoyed talking with the visiting chef, Taki Laliotitis. He lives in San Diego, where I spent three years, and we talked about the phenomenal growth of the city. Others sharing that special evening included Allianz’s president Michael Maicher and his wife Eva. Our congratulations on the birth of their son Jason on October 10. He must be a beautiful baby. I couldn’t make it to the United Airlines party at Tokyo American Club a few months ago, so was happy to have the opportunity to congratulate James Mueller and his wife Linda on his new position as VP, Pacific. It was also nice meeting David Hatt, who heads Deutsche Bank’s operations here, for the first time. I know his wife Helen and their great kids through our mutual friend Margaret Scannell, wife of the Irish ambassador. They are all good people. It was, as you can see, a wonderful evening in every way. My thanks to Christophe and Alicia for including me.

Tapas at the Hilton Tokyo

Thanks to the popularity of Spanish food, most or us are familiar with tapas. I’m happy to report that the Hilton Tokyo is now presenting tapas every Friday and Saturday from 6:30 to 9pm. In their beautiful Marble Lounge. The promotion features over 30 kinds of traditional Spanish tapas, Spanish wines, and cocktails. On Fridays there is live flamenco music. It was nice running into Aoba International School founder Regina Doi, who has done so much for the community here.

Coming Up

Our friends at National Azabu Supermarket in Hiroo will be having a German fair, December 5, 6, and 7. There will be beer, wine, cheese and other food from Germany, and a tent will be set up in the parking lot for this festive event. Drop by National Azabu for more details. Don’t miss either of these big annual charity events. First there’s the ILBS annual Christmas fair at the Grand Prince Hotel on Saturday November 28 from 11am to 3pm. Another very popular end of the year event is Ikebana International’s big exhibition and holiday bazaar, which will be held on December 1 at the Tokyo Prince Hotel.