by Bill Hersey

Our city’s social schedule seems to be busier then ever, as things never really do slow down in old Edo. I’m trying to work ahead and started to work on this column mid-March. It’s another one of those cold, rainy days, and I sure hope we’re into some nicer weather by the time you read this. I drove over to Kappa Bashi near Akihabara this morning, did some shopping, and ended up with two big bags of colorful decorations for the New Lex’s annual sakura (cherry blossom) party. It’s an interesting area with countless shops selling all kinds of party decorations, costume jewelry, and fun fashion at really reasonable prices. The only downer was when two of those little guys in green photographed a small van that was parked in front of me and stuck a ticket on the windshield. That’ll cost the driver \15,000 and probably a point off his license. The back of the van was open and the blinker lights were on. It was obvious the driver was just doing his job and making a delivery. With times like they are, small companies can hardly afford to pay two people so one can sit in the vehicle while the other makes the delivery. Laws like this really affect the working class. Those that actually make the laws probably have a car and driver and couldn’t care less. I often wonder what’s with the law when it comes to taxis. Times are tough, and this means a lot of people that used to take taxis are finding more inexpensive ways to get around. My heart goes out to the many people who are suffering because of the economic situation. I do, however, feel that cabdrivers (like everyone else) have to obey the law. Many double-park (and even triple-park), block smaller roads, cut in front of other cars, and pretty much seem to think they’re above the law. The other day I wanted to buy a few magazines and ACDs at Tower Records in Shibuya. Cabs were occupying all the legal metered parking spaces from Shibuya station way down past Tower. That’s about five city blocks, and there was no way they were going to move and let others (who would put money in the meters and patronize businesses in that area) get into any of those spaces. Frankly I don’t know how law enforcement feels about this, but if they don’t take some action soon, the problem will grow and grow. I’ll write more about this after I do a bit of investigation.


Eduardo Cardenas is a leader in importing preserved flowers from Colombia to Japan. As anticipated, the seventh Florever Flower Contest at the Tasaki building in Ginza was really something very special. The awards reception, co-hosted by Colombian Ambassador Patricia Cardenas, was packed. In addition to having the opportunity to see the fantastic preserved flower arrangements on display, guests enjoyed the Colombian food, the folkloric show, and the laid back Latin ambience. Kudos to all concerned.


Brunei Ambassador Mohamad Alias Serbini hosted a well attended reception at the Imperial Hotel on the occasion of his country’s 26th national day. Guests included Japanese government officials, diplomats, and business leaders. I enjoyed talking to several representatives of Miss Japan International and also appreciated Vietnamese businessman Vu Ngoc Chau introducing me to some young diplomats I hadn’t met before. When Chau’s father, who’s posted in Geneva now, was Vietnamese ambassador to Japan, he arranged for me to visit his beautiful country. That was a really a great travel experience.


It was wall-to-wall people in the Hotel New Otani’s huge banquet room for Indian Ambassador Hemant Krishan Singh and his wife Mrinalini’s beautiful national day celebration. The occasion was to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Republic Day of India. Mrinalini (which means lotus in sanskrit) is a very talented aspiring artist, and she and her staff really went all out to give the venue a festive atmosphere. There were huge orange, green and white (colors of the Indian flag) balloons everywhere, and a colorfully painted Indian Velo Taxi prominently displayed at one end of the room. The long hall where guests lined up to congratulate the host couple and embassy staff was lined with large water-filled brass bowls of beautiful white flowers. Two of the embassy girls at the entrance told me I could go ahead of the line to take photos. I took them up on their generous offer, and somehow in the process managed to step into one of the brass bowls. My thanks to the hotel staff for cleaning up my mess, and later telling me I was one of six people who did the same thing. Guests included former Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who keeps very busy with all kinds of worthwhile projects. Most of the leaders in the Indian community were there, and I was happy to have the opportunity to thank many of them for their support. They are all good people and good friends. It was a very special celebration that day with an excellent buffet and an interesting cultural show.


Over at the Hilton Tokyo, Fiat’s country manager Tiziana Alamprese and her staff hosted a reception to introduce the new Alfa Romeo Brera series. The automobile, like all Alfa Romeos, is a masterpiece of cool, chic design and function. Tiziana, who really knows what she’s doing, added action to the evening’s theme, follow the beat, with a lively tap dancing show. Needless to say, a good time was had by all.


Young musician Matthew Ireton will be opening a show at St. George’s Bar in the Hilton Tokyo on Friday, April 16 at 7:30pm. His music combines J-pop with jazz, which he calls ‘J-jazz.’ For more information check Anyone who knows Audi knows that they always go all out to make anything they do special. As an anthropology major who has spent some time with the Australian aborigines, I’m really looking forward to Audi’s contemporary fine aboriginal art exhibition titled Ingaimpa Tjuntu Singing Songs, which opens April 23 and runs to May 11 at the futuristic Audi Forum on Meiji-dori. The cross cultural experience should well worth seeing.