Yoko Ono

Bill Hersey’s Partyline March 2016


Grace Saito

Grace, who’s 83 now, is in a retirement home here in Tokyo and unfortunately isn’t able to get out and about very much. I’ve had the privilege of knowing her for many years, and have helped whenever I could on her many charity projects. She’s also helped me with many of my charity projects, including several that I work with in the  Philippines. Many of you know Grace through her years of sponsoring classical music concerts in beautiful venues in many of our top hotels as well as other prestigious venues. Grace’s love of classical music and charming personality helped her get many of ]apan’s most famous musicians and opera singers to volunteer to participate in the concerts. The venues were always full of music lovers, who included royalty, diplomats and their wives, and the cream of both Japanese and international society. Grace has two light and bright rooms on the sixth floor of the ultra-modern Orix retirement home in Shibaura. Her apartment, which has a view of Tokyo Bay, was full of flowers, stuffed animals and other gifts her many friends had sent or brought when they visited.



Philippines Ambassador Manuel Lopez and his wife Maria Teresa just never slow down and always come up with new interesting happenings. The most recent took place one evening at their beautiful official residence, the Kudan, an art-filled home near Yasukuni Shrine.  The house—originally designed by an eccentric architect—is one of the few remaining examples of early 20th century Iberian architecture in its original forms. lt was originally owned by the Yasuda family and was the official accommodation for many ambassadors during their posting in Japan. The reception at the house was to celebrate the launching of the beautiful book, “History and Heritage of the Kudan.” The book was designed and produced by Artpostasia, and is cover-to-cover full of history and great photos.  As always Manuel and Maria Teresa’s tinting was perfect.

Yoko Ono,  who spent much of her childhood with members of the Yasuda family in the Kudan, was in Japan for an exhibition of her work titled “From My  Window” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. Yoko made a short and very meaningful speech, emphasizing that it is important that we pursue what makes us happy and that we show kindness to others. She also talked a lot about world peace and the problems of the world today.  I’ve known Yoko for years and always liked her. Congratulations to all our friends from the Philippines on the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between their country and Japan. 


It was really a very special evening in every way at Italian Ambassador Domenico Giorgi and his wife Rita’s beautiful and beautifully decorated home. The design of the residence, the luxurious and so comfortable Italian furniture, and the two great wood-burning fireplaces, along with one of our city’s most beautiful gardens add up to one of Tokyo’s finest. Rita, the epitome of chic fashion looked great in a classy Italian-Japanese ensemble (Issey Miyake), and Domenico was, as always, an uoma classico. 

This year Italy and Japan celebrate 150 years of diplomatic relations. The party that evening was to celebrate one of the most prestigious and popular events for the celebration—the opening of two exhibitions—one of the paintings by Botticelli at the Edo-Tokyo Museum, and the other by Leonardo da Vinci at the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum in  Ueno. The guests that evening were an interesting mix of government officials, diplomats, and cultural leaders, especially those who really know Italian art. The buffet of Italian favorites was excellent, and the ambiance was warm and relaxed. Many of the guests, including me, stayed well past  the time it was scheduled to end. It was a great evening in every way. 


On the occasion of the national day for the accession of Sheikh Iassim Bin Mohamed Bin Thani, the founder of the state of Qatar, to the rule of the country, Qatar Ambassador Yousef. Bilal and his wife Iamila hosted a glittering reception at the Imperial Hotel.  The huge venue was wall-to-wall people with long tables everywhere groaning under trays of a variety of Arab, Japanese, and Western dishes. The crowd was many nationalities and of all ages. They included a large group of beautiful kids from many countries. The program included a welcome speech by the Ambassador and a congratulatory speech by a Japanese dignitary. The entertainment during the party was an excellent program of Japanese and international music.



Dropped by Oakwood Premier in Midtown on one of their recent  Thursday “Wine Nights.” I don’t drink, but I was sure there would be friends there, and something interesting would be going on. I  was right as Konishiki, his gorgeous wife Chie, and other interesting people were there. On the cultural side, a group of costumed Japanese men wandered around the lounge and performed the traditional Shinshimai which is sometimes called the Lion Dance. It was, as always, a colorful fun event at Oakwood.  Our congratulations to Oakwood on the opening of their beautiful new Oakwood Premier Tokyo near Tokyo Station.

*First published at the Tokyo Weekender

*Images Copyright: Tsukasa Shiga


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