People, Parties, Places with Bill Hersey

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Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with Sony pictures entertainment Masao Morita and Dick Sano at the Tokyo International film festival.

When something catches on here in Japan it really catches on and that’s what happened with Halloween this year. It was colorful, fun but kinda crazy in Tokyo and I for one was happy when the days (in some cases weeks) of celebrating Halloween were over! Ray-Ban did their Halloween thing at Kozo Hasegawa’s Legato in Shibuya. It was a real blast with close to one thousand costumed people packed into the Italian bar-restaurant dancing to the sounds of seven DJs. In my opinion, the best party by far was Abeer al-Muslahi’s spooky get together at the Oman embassy. Abeer, her family and staff had gone all out to make the annual party, held for a group of disabled children and their parents, a very special evening. The decorations, the food and the mood were all perfect for the occasion. The same day I enjoyed being one of the three judges at the kid’s costume contest at National Azabu supermarket in Hiroo. The expat community’s favorite store, as I’m sure you know is now closed but they have opened an annex on the same site, and do have plans to build a new store next year—hopefully open for summer.

I hear the energy crisis is pretty much over now and even though I’m writing this column in November, I’m not all that surprised to see Christmas decorations already going up across Tokyo. I’m happy to report that most Tokyoites made a huge effort to save energy when it was most needed after 3/11. As always, I might add, there were a number of restaurants, clubs and a few big karaoke venues that were lit up as bright and gaudy as those love hotels you see on the way to Narita. The offenders should be ashamed, but knowing many of them, I’m sure they’re not!

I’d like to say a big thank you to my friend Tom Yoda, chairman of Tokyo International Film Festival, his hardworking staff and the many sponsors of the 24th annual movie fest’. I have some really great memories of previous TIFF’s as I worked writing and editing the festival’s daily newspaper for the first ten years of the festival. Unfortunately my schedule was super busy this year and I couldn’t make it to as many of the movie screenings as I would have liked but I did get to see Brad Pitt’s Moneyball (pictured above), it’s a superb movie I highly recommend it.

I’m sorry to say I also had to miss Germany’s big day at Arisugawa park that was held to celebrate Germany 150 years of friendship with Japan. Dale Toriyumi, manager at National Azabu supermarket told me there was a huge turnout. Our congratulations to our many German friends on this special occasion.

There seemed to be a never ending stream of fashion happenings over the past month. The most impressive of course was Vogue Fashion’s Night out (FNO), attended this year by the global editor’s of the fashion Bible, including the Devil Wears Prada herself, Anna Wintour. All the most famous designer stores along Omotesando, Aoyama Dori and in Omotesando Hills were packed with trendy shoppers, models, celebrities (and of course the usual turnout of free loaders who were busy shop-hopping for the free champagne and finger food). There was an almost riot-like atmosphere at the opening of the new Michael Kors boutique on Omotesando and it was impossible to get near the special guest Jennifer Hudson but I did get close enough to see that she’s really knocked off the kilos since I met her backstage at Dreamgirls in Broadway a few years ago. She’s looking, and sounding great. Highlights of this year’s FNO for me included having a photo taken in a beautiful rikshaw and watching the shamisen and dance performances by three genuine Kyoto Maiko at the Niwaka jewelry store in Aoyama. The event titled “Kyoto pop up party” was really well done and packed with people.
It was a blast from the past when I looked up at the Omotesando-Aoyama Dori crossing and saw a huge billboard-sized photo of my longtime friend and fashion mentor Ken Ishizu. A young policemen at the koban there told me it was a tribute to the man who would be 100 years old this year. The late and truly great man headed Van Jacket Inc., co-wrote the fashion classic “Take Ivy” and helped me found my boutique Le Bazaar, which was in a two story building in Aoyama, where the huge Peacock supermarket now stands.

Still on fashion, I really enjoyed visiting the famed Bunka fashion college last month in Shinjuku, the college’s annual three day “Bunka” festival was a great opportunity to meet a lot of interesting people and seeing the future of Japanese fashion being sculpted was truly inspiring.

On the music scene I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the Japanese production of the Broadway musical “Rock of Ages” at Yurakucho’s Tokyo International Forum. Pop idol Takanori Nishikawa, heads the talented cast and although he is in his early forties he has the energy of an 18 year old. The sets, costumes and music were all wonderful. I just heard that Warner Brothers has plans to make a movie of the original broadway show, so I can’t wait to see that.

There really is too much happening in Tokyo to write about but I want to mention a few of the great parties that have been happening in the city the past couple of months.

South African reception for visiting minister and UIA congress
Gert J. Grobler, the always busy South African ambassador hosted a fun reception at Meiji Kinkanken, the occasion was the visit of his deputy minister of public works, Ms. Hendrietta Bagoplant-Zulu and an interesting mixture of international architects, in Japan for the International Union of Architects (UIA). It was a laid back evening of meeting people, making new friends with excellent South African food, music and dance. The next UIA World congress will be held in Durban, South Africa in 2014.

Brazil National Day Reception
There was also a huge turnout at the Brazilian ambassador’s residence in celebration of the country’s national day. This was the first time I met the hosting couple, Marcos and his wife Ana Maria Galvao and son Pedro. It was also nice to meet Brazilian Sumo wrestler Kasei and racing driver João Paulo de Oliveira, he recently drove a car for my friend Tsukasa Shiga’s, Ceremony Corporation in the Indy race at the Motegi Twin Ring track. Brazil, as you may know is a marvelous, colorful, diverse and very much happening country. I love watching the Brazilian television series “9mm” on Fox TV at the moment and even though I don’t understand Portuguese I can’t get enough. Still on Brazil, I met a lot of interesting Brazilians a few months back when I let a TV crew from Rio de Janeiro broadcast from the New Lex, in Roppongi. The star of the show was gorgeous Brazilian actress Barbara Paz, a super nice lady and great fun to hang out with.

Dewi Sukarno’s Grand Imperial Charity Banquet
When socialite Dewi Sukarno does something, she goes all the way to make it very special and proof of this was her 14th Grand imperial charity banquet at the stunning Meguro Gajoen. The hundreds of people there included government officials, diplomats, business leaders, fashion designers and showbiz personalities: talk about glitz and glamour! The sit down dinner was excellent and the fast paced show featuring Chinese twins Chang Yi and Loreiei Chang was excellent. I must also mention super Korean singer Kim Yonja, noted Japanese tenor Masafumi Akikawa and Hiroshi Oka and the Clear Tone’s Orchestra who provided the music and I really liked the motto for the evening: “Devotion and service to all mankind”. The evening, as well as the lady behind it all, Dewi were beautiful and proceeds went to several worthwhile causes.

Shiga Tsukasa’s Formula One party at New Lex
For the sixth straight year my friend, former business partner and president of Ceremony Corporation Tsukasa, hosted a series of parties for the many Formula One drivers who came to Japan for the Suzuka Grand Prix. The biggest party was after the main race, and I’m happy to say many of the drivers partied all night with their friends and fans. I was really happy to have the winning driver Jenson Button drop by and surprise us. That busy guy recently did a great commercial for TAG Heuer and another with Lewis Hamilton for Hugo Boss. Speaking of Hamilton, it was great to see him in Tokyo again too, what a nice guy! Brazil’s Felipe Massa and Spanish champ’ Fernando Alonso also partied until early morning. Those lucky enough to be there won’t forget it any time soon.

Singapore National Day Reception
Singapore ambassador Chin Tiong Tan and his wife Maureen’s celebration of their country’s national day at the Imperial Hotel was first class all the way. The Tan’s are a popular couple and as expected, it was wall to wall people. I was happy to see the hotel loosened their rules a bit. In addition to the bountiful buffet the hotel chefs had prepared, they allowed the embassy to bring in specialties from a couple of the best Singaporean restaurants in town. The satays and Hainanese Chicken were excellent.

Thanks and happy holidays!
This is our last issue in 2011 and I’d like to thank you all for your friendship, support and readership over this most difficult year. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish you and yours happy holidays and all the best in the new year!

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with Sony pictures entertainment Masao Morita and Dick Sano at the Tokyo International film festival.