People, Parties, Places

Bill's People, Parties, Places - December 7th, 2012

He met Lewis Hamilton after the Japanese Grand Prix in November; what could top that for Bill Hersey?

It’s mid-November and I’m working on the column in one of my favorite coffee shops – Espresso Americano in Roppongi Hills. The Christmas music in the mall really makes me realize how time goes so quickly these days.

By the time you read this the holidays will just be a few weeks away; well, as my grandmother often said, the older you get, the faster time flies. I’ll devote the opening of the last People, Party, and Places of the year to people and in 2013 hope to write more and more about so many of the wonderful people I have the privilege of meeting and getting to know. Just got a postcard from friends and former Tokyoites Ron and Maria Anderson, who were traveling in Asia.

After 10 years in Tokyo, where Ron headed AIU, they moved to New York. Maria was and still is involved in so many worthwhile charity projects and was president of the International Ladies Benevolent Society (ILBS) here. During their trip to Asia they attended a big reception in Seoul, hosted by the booming city’s new mayor, Park Won Soon and his wife. The Andersons were and still are one of Tokyo’s most popular foreign couples and, from what I hear, are just as busy and popular in the Big Apple.

It’s really nice having Koichi and Daniele Yoshikoshi back in town. Koichi headed up Tokyo operations for Triumph, the German fashion company, for 20 years. Daniele, his wife, is the epitome of all good things French – she’s super chic and a real charmer who keeps very busy with the ILBS and works for other charity organizations too. Koichi’s busy as well; in addition to writing several best sellers on business, he’s very much in demand for his lectures on business and construction. The couple recently returned from a three-and-a-half month tour that included a cruise to Alaska as well as time in Canada, New York, southern France and Italy. They even somehow spent a few days at the London Olympics. That couple really know how to live.

Congratulations to the legendary Nancy Ma on the opening of her new Chinese restaurant, Shatohanten, near Roppongi. Nancy, who’s in her 90s, looks great and is known the world over for her Chinese cuisine and cookbooks. Going back a bit (quite a bit, actually!) I was a guest at an intimate dinner party Nancy hosted for the brother of “The Last Emperor” Puyi and another man, Chin Ho, who opened the first big resort hotel in Honolulu. I also enjoyed the last bear claw dinner Nancy hosted before the government passed a law banning this. For more info on Shatohanten, call 3587-9111.

I send my sincerest congratulations to Italian chef/caterer Giorgio Matera. Vincenzo Petrone, the Italian ambassador, awarded Giorgio with the decoration of Cavaliere dell Ordine della Stella d’ Italia at a special ceremony at his embassy.

In closing this section of PPP. I’d like to thank you all for your readership, friendship and support in 2012. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season and that 2013 is a really good year for you.

Africa Day Celebration at the Angolan Embassy

There are 37 African countries represented in Japan and the recent African Day celebration at the Angolan embassy was as crowded, as colorful and as enjoyable as its many guests expected it would be. After the many hosts and hostesses received us, we checked out the many interesting exhibits that had been set up on both sides of the long entrance hall.

A group of very colorful and energetic drummers and dancers did their thing in the main area and they were really fantastic. For me, the superb buffet, with a huge variety of homemade favorites from the many participating countries was the highlight of the night.

Our African friends are already very busy preparing for the Japan Africa Summit which will be held in Yokohama in June next year. Many heads of African countries are planning on being here to strengthen partnerships with Japan. My thanks to Stuart Harold Comberbach, Zimbabwean ambassador and dean of the African Corps, for his help in getting this info together.

David Warren and Takako Shimazu

David Warren, the departed British ambassador, with the Emperor’s sister, Takako Shimazu

David and Pam Head Back to London

Needless to say the many friends of British ambassador Sir David Warren and his wife, Lady Pamela Warren, are really going to miss the couple. The Warrens recently returned to England after four years and a few months in Japan. David is retiring from diplomatic service but will, as always, keep busy. I am sure he’ll maintain his and Pam’s close relationship with Japan through his new position as chairman of the Japan Society in London. Pam will be there to help whenever he needs and will also be involved in some very other worthwhile projects as well.

Prior to their departure the couple hosted a beautiful sayonara party in their garden. It was great to see Tadateru Konoe, president of the Japan Red Cross and his wife Yasuko. She’s the daughter of Prince and Princess Mikasa and I was really happy to hear her father is making a speedy recovery after some health problems. The prince studied archeology and, as I majored in anthropology, we used to have some very interesting discussions.

It was also nice seeing David Hatt, Deutsche Bank Group’s top man here, and his wife Helen. David, who really knows his business, raved about the way the Japanese organized and carried out the recent IMF and World Bank meetings in Tokyo.

I do want to thank another good friend who was there, British Airways’ Vishal Sinha, who introduced me to Masaru Onishi, Japan Airlines rep. director/chairman. They’re both cool people. The program that evening was very informal. David made a short and meaningful speech and there was some good music from the embassy’s taiko group.

The Warrens were in Japan for so many great British events, including Will and Kate’s wedding, the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the best Olympics ever. They, as Brits, have much to be proud of. As the great English singer Vera Lynn sings, “There Will Always be an England” and that, thank God, means there’ll always be great English friends like David and Pam, who I thank for their friendship and wish all the best back home.

The Chins’ Singapore National Day Reception at the Imperial Hotel

Singapore’s ambassador Siat Yoon Chin and his wife Lee Moi Wang had only been posted in Japan a short time before they hosted their big event of the year, Singapore’s National Day reception at the Imperial Hotel. The couple came to Japan after a 14-year posting in China and as the ambassador’s wife, who’s very outgoing, said it really is different here in a very positive way.

Guests there that evening included top Japanese government officials, diplomats, business leaders and familiar faces from the arts and entertainment world. Several years ago, Singapore’s embassy convinced the Imperial Hotel to let them bring in food from several of the top Singapore restaurants here, and that was a big success. I’m happy to see they’re still doing the same. The chicken and satay restaurants were very special as was the Japanese, western and Chinese food prepared by the the Imperial’s food and beverage staff.

Congratulations to the Chins, whom I wish a long, happy and successful stay in Japan.

Mohau Pheko and Mrs. Wadhwa

South African ambassador Mohau Pheko with ambassador Wadhwa of India

Malaysian National Day at the New Otani

Datuk Md. Som Shaharuddin, the Malaysian ambassador, and his wife Datin Norasikin were super chic in Malaysian national dress as they greeted the many guests at their big event at the New Otani Hotel. Datuk and Datin, by the way, are Malaysian titles of honour. Many of the ladies there also wore Malaysian fashion that evening and the reception venue was a kaleidoscope of colour.

Dewi Sukarno, who always looks good, was with me that night and I’m always surprised how much attention that extraordinary lady attracts. So many people want their photo with her, or just want to shake her hand, and she pretty much always obliges. She’s a smart lady and has an amazing ability to recognize the party crashers and phonies.

I was happy to meet Myanmar’s ambassador and his wife, as well as the wife of the Chinese ambassador, and one of the Shahararuddin sons who goes to a university in Tokyo.

Brazilian National Day Celebration

There was a big turnout as well at the well-designed and art-filled home of Brazilian ambassador Marcos Galvao for Brazil’s National Day celebration. Familiar faces there that day included super saxophonist Sadao Watanabe, who gave a short concert. Was nice seeing designer Junko Koshino and her husband Hiroyuki Suzuki, who’s doing very well as a photographer, and Brazilian sumo wrestler, Kaisei.

It was also nice talking with Yoshiko Mori, an exceptional lady who heads the wonderful Mori Museum in Roppongi Hills. A few days later I ran into Marcos’ son, Pedro, and we talked about Brazil’s preparations for the next Olympics and some current cultural projects here in Japan. These include bringing over two well-known graffiti artists from Sao Paolo who are currently painting some special walls set up around the embassy.

New Zealand PM here on Tourism Promotion

Looking back I had to and really regretted turning down two invitations to visit New Zealand, a real shame. I always like people I’ve met from there and hear the country, especially its nature, is magnificent.

John Key, the New Zealand prime minister, who’s actually also minister of tourism, was in Japan recently with a VIP delegation to promote his beautiful country. At a special industry function at the embassy he and his associates unveiled their new campaign, “100% Middle Earth, 100% Pure New Zealand”. The campaign is tied up with Warner Bros.’ December l4th worldwide release of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. It’s the first in a Hobbit trilogy and everyone feels it will increase the number of tourists visiting New Zealand just like the Lord of the Rings trilogy did.

Air New Zealand will increase the number of flights from Narita to Auckland soon and they are planning all kinds of exclusive competitions and unique fan opportunities, all geared towards raising New Zealand’s profile.

The event was great and I really enjoyed meeting both the prime minister and Mark Sinclair, the New Zealand ambassador as well as so many of the New Zealand VIPs living here in Japan.

Mark Sinclair, William Ireton, John Key, Ed Overy, Adelaide and Eddy

Mark Sinclair, the New Zealand ambassador with Warner Bros. Japan’s William Ireton, Prime Minister John Key, Ed Overy of Air New Zealand and cabin crew members Adelaide and Eddy

Pakistani Folklore Evening

I jumped at the opportunity to attend a performance by several of Pakistan’s top musicians and singers. Pakistani ambassador Noor Muhammad Jadmani and his daughter, Nasreen, hosted the event at their beautiful home in Minami Azabu.

I like Pakistani music so I really enjoyed the show and was happy to meet some of the artists later at a wonderful barbecue in the garden. The only downer that evening was the absence of Noor’s wife Amnat, who was out of Japan. Just heard the Jadmanis will be leaving Japan soon and returning to Pakistan where he’ll become director of protocol. He and his family are very well liked here and will really be missed by all who had the privilege of getting to know them.