with Bill Hersey

I took some time off during all the recent holidays and really enjoyed driving my Toyota Soarer — love this car — around the always happening Tokyo, and, like most of us, discovering new things every day. As an anthropology major, I love the international culture and food festivals that seem to take place at Yoyogi Park almost every weekend in September. The Brazilian, Sri Lankan, Vietnamese and Indian festivals all had super (and cheap) food, good traditional and contemporary entertainment and fun, as well as fashion items and handicrafts on sale. There was a really laid back ambiance and lots of cool Japanese people and others from all over the world (more on all this later) and lots of great shows as well.

Thanks to friends at Kyodo Tokyo, I saw the musicals “In the Heights,” “Drumstruck,” and a dynamic two hours of Cuban music and dance choreographed by London’s Sadler Wells Ballet. It’s worth checking out the schedule of stage plays and musicals from time to time — in addition to a lot of good overseas productions here, there are some excellent local productions of both international and Japanese shows. Sure, the prices aren’t what we’d always like them to be, but they’re pretty much the same as on New York’s Broadway or London’s West End. We should all be aware of what a great city Tokyo is and feel fortunate to be here. I could — and often do go — on and on, but for now its time to move onto our city’s busy social scene.

Warner Bros.’ “Inception” premiere at Roppongi Hills

It’s always nice to have one of the world’s top actors, Leonardo DiCaprio back in town, and I always enjoy talking with him about his fantastic career. I first met Leo through our mutual friend Robert de Niro. I am happy to say he’s comfortable with his superstar title and has stayed the nice guy he was the first time that I met him. His Japan tour was planned to promote the box office hit “Inception.” As expected, there was a huge turnout of Leo’s fans at the premiere and everyone I talked to really enjoyed the film.

Personally, I was really beat that night and had a few problems understanding the story. That’s ok, though —my Warner friends told me many people went two or three times before they could completely understand everything, and that means that my friends are selling more tickets. Tokyo International Film Festival chairman Tom Yoda was there, and he told me he and his staff are really busy preparing for TIFF in late October. They have some good things coming up, and Warner Bros. will be releasing the latest in the Harry Potter series soon. We saw the trailers, and I am sure it will be a big hit.

The Abdelnasser’s Colorful, Crowded  Egyptian National Day Reception

Egyptian ambassador Walid Abdelnasser and his wife Dahlia are a very popular couple, and there was a big turnout for the recent celebration of Egyptian National Day at their Aobadai home. The two greeted guests in the courtyard at the entrance to the residence, surrounded by a bubbling fountain, statues of Egyptian gods and colorful traditional fabric — the perfect setting for the happy occasion. I chatted with Ibrahim Khalil, the Egyptian tourism man in Japan, and was happy to hear the number of people visiting Egypt, one of the world’s most interesting destinations, is growing all the time. I’ve been there about 10 times and would be happy to head out to Cairo again tomorrow. Egypt really is one of the best travel experiences there is.

World traveler and fashion designer Junko Koshino was there and looking super chic is always. Junk’s recent events included a fashion show in Cuba and an Argentine nite of tango, wine and fashion here in Tokyo. She’s so talented and so active.

Azerbaijan’s Repuplic day celebrated in style

Kudos to Ambassador Nagiz Huseyn, his wife Nargiz and the people of Azerbaijan on their republic day. To celebrate they head a glittering reception in the Fuji room at the Imperial Hotel. Nargiz as always looked like she stepped right out of the pages of Vogue magazine.

The huge ice carving of Azerbaijan’s most famous landmark, the maiden tower stood high in the center of the party venue. Guests that evening included top ranking Japanese Government officials, diplomats and business leaders as well as many of the Huseyn’s son Adnan’s Temple University classmates. I was really happy to have the privilege of meeting the ambassadors mother Zohra Huseynova who was visiting here at that time. In talking with her and Adnan I was very impressed when he told me about the many decorations she had received from their government. Needless to say I was very sad when I heard this exceptional lady passed away a few months after she returned home to Azerbaijan. God bless her soul.

Just a reminder

October 1st, 2nd, 3rd are the New Earth festival at Yoyogi park, also over at Roppongi Hills on October 2nd is the Japan-Korean festival, both are free!