Bill Hersey’s Partyline June 1st, 2001

PARTIES

Over at the Westin Tokyo Hotel, Refugees International-Japan hosted the 11th Art of Dining Charity Exhibition where Princess Hitachi cut the ribbon to officially open the special event. Following the ceremony, she visited the exhibition, chatted and congratulated all the creative people who made the fundraiser a huge success.

Participants included a former Japan First Lady, diplomats’ wives, embassy staff members, an architect and community­minded and caring people. Showbiz was well represented by the multi-talented Masaaki Sakai and his wife, actress Millie Okada, and actress Tomoko Ogawa They kept busy signing autographs and posing for photos.

With so many good friends leaving, it is really great to see two who have just come back. Ecuadorean Ambassador Marcelo Avila and his wife Maria Teresa have once again been appointed their country’s top representatives to Japan.

The A vilas were here in the same capacity from 1989 to 1996 and, if you were in Japan at that time, you know how popu­lar they were then. They both look great and are as warm and outgoing, and sure to be as popular, as ever.

It was a great night of music at the home of Philippines Ambassador Romeo Arguelles and his wife Azucena (“Annie”), a place well known for good music. This time it was a duo-piano concert by internationally renowned pianists Nena Del Rosario Villanueva and Carrninda De Leon Regulas.

The program included “Espana Rhapsody” and “Carmen Fantasy” and was lively and thoroughly enjoyable. I can’t remember such strong and precise move­ments since I had a front-row seat at an Elton John concert several years back.

It was easy to see why both Nena and Carminda have been lauded with critical acclaim all over the world. Romeo later sang a couple of Filipino love songs, and he’s good.

Special guests included former Philippines Ambassador to Japan, now business tycoon, Alfonso Yuchengco. I was in the Philippines a few months ago when Alfonso, along with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, presided over the inauguration of the Yuchengco group of companies’ huge and ultra-modern Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation Plaza in Makati.

The Philippine Ladies Association of Japan is sponsoring the charity event, “The Evolution of Philippine Costumes.” For reservations and information, call 5562-1588 or 5562-1600.

I missed the Saturday, Apr. 14, Min­On Concert Association special perform­ance of “Pendragon” and reception to meet the members of the National Youth Music Theater of Great Britain. Heard it was excellent.

I could also kick myself in the butt for not getting to NHK Hall for the con-cert by super songbird Sarah Brightman. I have all her CDs and, needless to say, she’s great. Two dancer friends from London who were in the show dropped by the Lex one evening, and it was nice seeing them again.

During Golden Week, Tokyo English Life Line (TELL) held its second annual Charity Walk/Runathon. Happy to report there was a good turnout for the State Street-sponsored TELL fun fundraiser.

Over at the Swedish Embassy, Ambassador Krister Kumlin and his wife Ewa hosted a reception for the opening of the Vasa exhibition. The 17th century ship Vasa, “the mightiest and most richly ornamented naval vessel ever built in Sweden,” was recovered from a sea-bed and is now a spectacular museum in Stockholm.

Everyone was seeing spots at Moda Politica event space in Minami Aoyama. The occasion was the showing of a joint collection of designs by Junko Koshino and Mode,” 102 Dalmatians.” Disney and TV Asahi supported the mostly black­and-white-with lots of spots-original fashions.

Dalmatians in all sizes covered the windows and walls of the showroom, and there were piles of stuffed Dalma­tians at the entrance, a half dozen white­with-black-dot small vans out front and some beautiful and very real Dalmatians at the ramp with the models.

Greek Ambassador Elias Katsaraes and his wife Maria hosted a cocktail buf­fet in their home on the occasion of the celebration of the European Year of Lan­guages in Japan. At the same time, they introduced their special guests, President of Athens University and Mrs. George Babiniotis, who were here for the celebration.

I could not get to Elias and Maria’s place that evening but appreciate them introducing me to their visiting VIP cou­ple at the European Union party the night before.

On May 11, Argentine Ambassador Alfredo Chiaradia and his wife Ercilia held a reception at their home in honor of Dr. Adalberto Rodriquez Giavarini, Argentine Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship.

PEOPLE

Nicolas Cage Bill Hersey

Ambassadors’ appointments to Japan are usually two to ­four years, depending on the country. Some leave earlier; others later, depending on the situation.

Friends in the Japanese Foreign Ministry often move as well, many overseas where they have been appointed ambassador. A good example of this is Chief of Protocol Shohei Naito. He and his wife Yoko just moved to Copenhagen where he’ll be Japan’s Ambassador to Denmark.

Dear friends and good people scheduled to leave soon include Argentine Ambassador Alfredo V. Chiaradia and his wife Ercilia who will be returning to Buenos Aires and a high-level government job. Brazilian Ambassador Fernando Guimaraes Reis and his wife Maria, acting general consul here, have a new posting in Rome. Fernando will be Ambassador to Italy.

Canadian Ambassador Leonard J. Edwards and his wife Margaret are back in Ontario for a new and important assign­ment for his government. Danish Ambas­sador Peter Bruckner and his wife Anna (“Bula”) are headed for Paris where he will become Ambassador to France.

Philippines Ambassador Romeo A. Arguelles and his wife Azucena (“Annie”) will re-settle in San Francisco. Romeo will retire but, I’m sure, remain very active. Annie has a well-known dermatology clin­ic in the San Francisco area, and the three Arguelles children work and study in the U.S.

Sorry I did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to Sudanese Ambassdor Khidir Haroun Ahmed and his wife Howaida. The popular couple had to leave for his new assignment on such short notice, and there was no time for sayonara lunches or dinners.

We certainly wish these many exceptional people all the best in their new lives wherever they may be. At the same time my sincerest thanks for their friendship and support. We’ll miss you all.

PLACES

There’s a welcome, familiar-to-many and sure-to-be-popular addition to Tokyo’s vast and varied restaurant scene. In mid-April, Wondertable Ltd. opened Lawry’s The Prime Rib on the first floor and Bl floor of the conveniently located Akasaka Twin Tower Building in Tameike-Sanno.

Thanks to Wondertable chairman Zuisho Hayashi who is also chairman of the huge Humax conglomeration, and his son Yoshitaka, the senior manager of Wondertable, I was able to set up a dinner on opening night for 20 friends.

We met in the well-appointed upstairs lounge and bar and had time to relax and chat before moving down to our private room in the restaurant area which can seat 500. Lawry’s has restaurants in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Chicago, Dallas, Jakarta and Singapore.

The U.S owners, the Franks, and the Hayashis had brought in chefs, waiters and waitresses for a month to help train the local staff and do a super job at the two nights of opening parties.

To be truthful, I have not been all that much into prime rib but, I tell you, my meal that night showed me what I had been missing. My French friends say it’s barbaric, but I ordered it the way I like it-well-done. It was perfect, and huge! The caveman portion, the special salad, creamy vegetables, bread and dessert added up to what everyone thought was a super meal.

Carole Yoshida is a long time friend of Richard N. Frank and his wife Mary Alice. Consequently, the personable couple and their son Richard R., President and CEO of Lawry’s, spent considerable time at our table.

I’ve been back to Lawry’s twice since the party and am happy to report Wondertable is keeping the quality of service and quantity. Lawry’s has been busy and friends have had problems being seated without a reservation. For reservations, call 5 I 14-8080. Geraldine Twilley told me you should book a week in advance.

You can spend some interesting, entertaining and enjoyable times with the Arguelles and many of our Filipino friends at one of the two showings of the “Czar of Asian Fashion,” Filipino design­er Jose “Pitoy” Moreno, on Saturday, June 9, at the Tokyo American Club.

Years ago, a poorly chosen production was the opening film for the Tokyo International Film Festival. It showed fighting, rioting, destruction and general chaos by a variety of foreigners. At that time it seemed impossible to take a walk down Roppongi’s main drag on a Friday or Saturday night. You’ll realize it isn’t.

I thought and still hope building tycoon Minoru Mori, with his huge new Roppongi project, would put on the pressure to clean up Roppongi. I also feel Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara needs to be reminded that Roppongi is a part of his city.

Hostesses don’t seem to like being around young models, and they also know we are really anti-drugs, so seldom come by the Lex. A quick check by the Time reporter would have set him straight. Favorite after-hours hangouts for Roppongi hostesses include Gas Panic, Hideout, Envy and Wall Street.

In the daytime, I see them meet a strange assortment of men at Roppongi Starbucks. It’s always a peck on the cheek, a flower or small gift from the guy, and off they go. As the old Peter, Paul and Mary song goes, “When will they ever learn?”

*First published at the Tokyo Weekender