These French party planners are bringing down cultural barriers one event at a time.
Even though it’s an English phrase, the “French touch” is a concept that can be as hard to directly describe as omotenashi: at its most basic, you can say that it’s a certain sense of Gallic style, a feeling of joie de vivre, and maybe a touch of romance.
That’s the touch that Julien Tirode, the founder of event group Bonjour Tokyo, explained that he wants to bring to each one of the parties and activities he has arranged for the rest of the year. He says that his approach is to use fun as a way to bring people together and bring down intercultural barriers—for foreigners, who often have a tough time finding real opportunities for making their way into Japanese society, and Japanese people, who are often shy in making new connections.
Bonjour Tokyo’s events come in all shapes and sizes, from events at trendy night spots—like Las Chicas in Omotesando, Ginza Roots, or Le Cordon Bleu in Daikanyama—to more low-key, laid-back picnics in Yoyogi Park. Given the group’s name, it’s no surprise that many of Bonjour Tokyo’s events are French-themed, such as a Beaujolais Nouveau wine night, their upcoming Bastille Day party on July 12, or a new monthly French conversation group. But there are many events that all international guests would be familiar with, such as Halloween or Valentine’s Day—which Bonjour Tokyo celebrated this year with a romantic masquerade ball.
And speaking of romance, Bonjour Tokyo’s signature event just might be its Singles Parties, which take place every three months (the next one is coming up in May). They’ve proved to be very popular, drawing about 300 guests each time, and making quite a few couples. Tirode doesn’t play matchmaker directly, but he does see all of his events as a great way to make international connections, be they long-term relationships or just new friends.