Bill’s Partyline December 15th, 2000
Togo Fine Art hosted a reception on Nov. 26 to open an exhibition, “Traces of Picasso,” which continues through Feb. 28. On Nov. 28, fashion designer Junko Koshino made a dynamic presentation of her Spring/Summer 2001 collection in the Ballroom at the Park Hyatt Hotel.
There was more on the music scene later that night when Portuguese rock guitarist Nuno Bettencourt partied at the Lex. Nuno played with the group Extreme and now has his own band, and I ran across some photos of him taken by well-known photographer Bruce Weber for a 1992 issue of Interview. At that time, Nuno had long hair and was wearing only his guitar. He got a kick out of showing the photos to his new band and signed them all for me. Great fun that night, and I really enjoyed talking with Nuno’s bodyguard, Silvio, a big, gentle guy who did some bullfighting in Portugal.
Congratulations to Brazilian tennis player Gustavo Kuerten who beat Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi at the Masters Cup in Lisbon to finish the year as the number one player in the world. I hung with Gustavo when he was in Tokyo a few months ago and, I’ll tell you, it could not happen to a nicer guy.
The National Day reception hosted by Saudi Ambassador Mohamed Kurdi and his wife Widad at the Hotel New Otani was even bigger than usual. Talk about big, once guests congratulated the Kurdis and the embassy staff, most gravitated to special guest, sumo Yokozuna Musashimaru, to congratulate him on winning the Autumn Grand Tournament in Tokyo, ask him to pose for a photo or just stare at that mountain of a man. I’d met him before and my first opinion of him being a really nice guy was right on. After saying hi and congratulating him, I moved-or tried to move-away. A lot of friends asked me if I’d take their photo with him. He obligingly posed, and I snapped away. I quietly asked Musashimaru if he got tired of all this, and he said, “Not really. It’s sort of the price of fame,” and added, “I’m hungry.” I talked to one of the waiters I know and he brought over a big plate piled with a variety of good food. Once people said hello and had their photos taken, they moved away but, as always, there were a few groupies trying to share the spotlight. That, also, is the price of fame. A few days later I was surprised to see a photo of Musashimaru modeling a white gold-and-crystal earring with 86 diamonds at a show for the DeBeers Diamond International 2000 collection. Seems the Sumo Association has relaxed a bit on what the wrestlers can and cannot do.
Travel folk galore in from the good ol’ USA for the second Visit USA Travel Fair 2000 held at the Tokyo International Forum. The event, organized by the U.S. Embassy Commercial Service, was presented in cooperation with the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA), the Japan Visit USA Committee, the Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ). More than 80 U.S. travel suppliers (airlines, hotels and tourism offices) attended the two-day event of exhibitions, destination seminars and hospitality events.
U.S. Ambassador Tom Foley and his wife Heather, along with U.S. Minister Christopher J. Lafleur, hosted an opening reception at the American Embassy. Unfortunately, the Foleys couldn’t be there, but Christopher, as usual, was an excellent host. Special guest that evening was William Norman, President and CEO of TIA which just opened its Tokyo office. There were really a lot of interesting people there, and I am sorry I could not stay longer.
Over at the Czech Embassy in Hirao, Charge d’Affaires Jiri Svoboda hosted a well-attended midday reception on the occasion of his country’s National Day. Interesting people, lively conversation and the buffet of Czech food added up to, as they say, a nice time had by all.
Joined an interesting group of friends of Bill and Charo Ireton at a special preview of the film “Space Cowboys.” Like everyone there, I really enjoyed the Clint Eastwood production which featured an exciting mix of space technology and human fragility, all with a touch of humor. Warner Brothers’ Kunio Yamada had taken a group of journalists to meet director-star Eastwood at his ranch in northern California and told me that was an experience of a lifetime.
Hilton Tokyo has been even busier than usual lately. They’ve started a series of international food festivals which feature not only food, but also culture, fashion and sometimes live entertainment. In the last year, they’ve done special promotions on Malaysia, Singapore, Egypt and Vietnam.
As of Dec. 5 they have not yet put those hundreds of thousands (millions?) of lights on the trees lining Omotesando. These have been a point of controversy, so perhaps it just won’t happen this year. The lighted trees were beautiful but diverted attention from the many businesses’ holiday decorations.
Drive or walk down Omotesando from Aoyamadori, and you’ll see that V’s Square on the right has a rustic Christmas bazaar in its main passageway. A few buildings up, the Anniversaire Mall has a beautiful golden branch entrance and covered arcade. The theme, “Nudity-Wishful Happiness,” is a bit unusual.
The newly opened box-like Benetton Building lent itself well to a big ribbon. Across the street, Aoyama Diamond Hall has a big reclining Santa and two Christmas trees decorating the entrance.
Hanae Mori hasn’t done anything as yet with her fashion building, but tells me she will soon. The Gucci windows with their huge globe with the “fluttering snow” are seasonable and trendy. Make-up artist Shu Uemura ‘s windows are nice. Tokyo Union Church which stands for and teaches what Christmas is all about, stands in the center of it all.
Continuing toward Yoyogi Park, the Quest Building has some elaborate lightning deco. Be sure to go up near the entrance to NHK Hall; the well-worth checking out tent-like building set up for Cirque du Soleil has taken on a holiday look with special lights and projections. La Foret, by the way, has done better this year. No more mile-high bending-over mini-skirt ladies with a big star on their panties or “Nude Christmas” campaigns.
*First published at the Tokyo Weekender