Hey, it’s 1985 and here we go again. I sort of laid low. on the resolutions this year but, like just about everyone else, made a few. These include more exotic travel, more travel writing, a little more de- tail on people in the column and, if I really get ambitious, a book. I also hope to get more into charity work and am already becoming more and more into party planning. Sounds good, but we’ll see how it all works out as the year progresses. The first few weeks of the New Year have really been great and I hope things continue with interesting people, travel plans and all kinds of great happenings. Hope it’s the same for all of you as well.
American Chamber of Commerce Winter Ball: smasheroo!
The American Chamber of Commerce’s (ACCJ) Winter Festival Ball in the Kiku Room of the Tokyo Hilton International was very special as well. Close to 700 people were there, and it was one of the most glamorous events of Tokyo’s busy holiday social season. The evening started with cocktails at 6 and guests moved into the main ballroom at 7. There was a presentation of the colors by four U.S. Marines, and every- one joined in the singing of the national anthem.
This was followed by a welcome speech by Herbert F. Hayde, Programs Committee Chairman, and introductory remarks by Robert L. Sharp, ACCJ President. The announcement of the 1985 Officers was made by U.S. Ambassador Mike Mansfield, who stated he felt the ACCJ in Japan was the most efficient and best organized, “bar none,” in the world. Herb Hayde was elected President; Weekender ran a complete list of officers in our Dec. 14 edition.
The Hilton dinner and serv ice as always were excellent. Richard E. Handl has a hotel and staff he can really be proud of.
There was a young Ameri can, Adolph Alvarez, who goes by the professional name of Oz Rock in town and I had been trying to help him make a little extra money as he had had some bad breaks here. I contacted Wes Benson who put me in touch with Herb and they agreed to let Oz and the Japanese B-5 Breakdance crew perform that night. Frankly I was a little worried as I didn’t know how the crowd would react, but forgot all about that when Oz, a fantastic entertainer, took the microphone from emcee Fred Harris and started rapping about the evening. His impromptu rapping included a tribute to Ambassador and Mrs. Mansfield of whom I feel all Americans are especially proud.
Take no Kai charity dinner-concert at San Marco di Venezia
One of January’s highlights were Kikumi Nakamura’s charity dinner and show at her elegant San Marco di Venezia Restaurant in the Hiltopia Arcade of the Tokyo Hilton International. Kikumi as you know, is president of the charity organization Take No Kai. Their projects include raising funds to make a training institute for young handicapped.
I arrived late and wasn’t able to stay long, but was very impressed by the people Kikumi gathered for the evening during a very busy holiday sea- son. I was able to do a little table hopping and get a few photos before the concert began but wish I could have done. more. Special guests that evening included newlyweds Prince Takamado and Princess Hisako, and from all reports the evening was a complete success in every way. The guest artist that evening was Doriot Dwyr, first flautist from The Boston Symphony Orchestra.
Masao & Joan hosts at annual New Year’s Day blast
Over Hiroo way in their plush pad enka singer Sen Masao and his multi-talented wife Joan Shepherd held their annual open house. I parked the car and was lucky enough to catch Masao outside with sumo wrestlers Konishiki (Sally) and Foga sorta taking some popping lessons from break- dancer-singer Joey. That, as you can see by the photos, was something else.
For the occasion, Masao Wore а traditional formal hakama. Joan looked her super chic self in a tux. Every room in the huge house was wall-to-wall people from all walks of life mixing, chatting, enjoying the lavish buffet and that special kind of hospitality Masao and Joan are known for.
I wasn’t able to stay too long but enjoyed an almost steady program of entertainment from the music of the classic samisen to a modern string quartet. A great party all the way.
Shin & Misa Watanabe host enormous New Year’s blast
As far as showbiz goes in Japan, Shin and Misa Watanabe of Watanabe Productions are legends in their own time. Consequently Watanabe Pro- ductions’ New Year’s party was everything I knew it would be. There was a huge crowd of interesting people ranging from the glitzy glamorous stars to the songwriters and composers to the more sedate businessmen who handle the monumental finances of one of Japan’s most colorful and biggest moneymaking businesses.
Familiar faces in the crowd included Sony Chairman Akio Morita, Tats Nagashima, one of Japan’s most respected men in the showbiz promotion business, noted producer-director Shibuya Mori, NTV Prez Morihisa Takagi, Toho President Isao Matsuoka, Warner-Pioneer’s Tokugen Yamamoto and Hiroshi Suwa of TBS.
On the way in I ran into Takako Shimazu, the youngest daughter of the Emperor, one of Japan’s best-dressed women and certainly one of Japan’s best diplomats. Takako told me her husband Hisanaga had a late business meeting at the Import-Export Bank where he works, so she wasn’t going to stay long. She did take the time to introduce me to some interesting people I hadn’t met before, and appreciate that. The Moritas told me they were just back from Hawaii and Los Angeles. They went to California to see their daughter Naoka and her new baby Amy.
Bill Hersey’s PEOPLE: Yasuo & Kumiko Hattori
Some months ago I began a series on interesting people in Tokyo, but got busy and involved in new projects and somehow let it fall by the wayside. I have had a lot of requests from readers to go into more detail and depth about some of the people featured from time to time in Party Line. Consequently, I’d like to resume today this series of mini-biographies to be called “Billy Hersey’s People.” This time I plan to keep it going!
For the first I’ve chosen one of Japan’s most opular and international couples, Yasuo and Kumi- ko Hattori.
Yasuo is a member of the Hattori family, best known for the manufacture of Seiko watches and the Epson Company. His father was Shoji Hattori; his mother Tomoko. Yasuo has two older brothers. Ichiro and Noboru, also in the family business. His uncle Genzo also had three sons: Kentaro who is Chairman of Hattori K.K.; Reijiro, President of Hattori Seiko and Wako, and Seizaburo who lives in Vienna and devotes his life to classical music.
In addition to the family business, Yasuo in- dependently founded Tamaya, the activities of which include a high-fashion boutique, the manufacture of navigational and surveying instruments and, more recently, fast food shops that now include two Shakey’s Pizza parlors (one in Ginza and one in Hiroo) and the Famous Amos Cookie Shop in Hiroo.
Kumiko’s parents are Taisaku and Hisako Ko- jima. Her father was a diplomat (Japan’s Ambassa- dor to India, etc.) so she traveled a great deal and was educated in many parts of the world, including classes at Haile Selassie University in Ethiopia and finishing school in Switzerland.
Yasuo attended Keio University before enrolling in the University of North Carolina where he earned a degree in Business Administration. He and Kumiko first met through friends here in Japan and were married in 1970. They have two daughters, Mikiko, 13, and Minako, 12.
Both Kumiko and Yasuo are involved in many community projects. She’s with ILBS and The Tokyo American Club Women’s Group and he’s a member of the Rotary Club, Ginza. They travel extensively and have a wide circle of friends all over the world.
On the lighter side, Kumiko’s interested in fashion and is certainly one of Tokyo’s best-dressed women. When not busy with her family, friends and community projects, she enjoys travel, tennis and golf. Yasuo also plays golf and likes to listen to all kinds of music from jazz to the classics..
They’re an exceptional couple who are not afraid to go against tradition, certainly keep up with the times but still retain the many good traditional values and customs one treasures in Japan.