Former secretary of state Cyrus Vance will be awarded one of Japan's highest decorations next week when he attends a conference in the port city of Shimoda. The Japanese Foreign Ministry said yesterday that Vance will be honored with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun -- the highest award that a private citizen can receive and one that only a handful of foreigners have received -- in recognition of his efforts to promote greater understanding and friendship between the United States and Japan. Vance, who was Jimmy Carter's secretary of state, is chairman of the Japan Society, a cultural-relations organization based in New York, and will be chairing, with Sony Corp. head Akio Morita, the forum to develop dialogue between Japanese and Americans. A Dedicated Reagan A sculpture built by Winston Churchill's granddaughter from pieces of the fallen Berlin Wall was dedicated by former president Ronald Reagan yesterday in the Missouri town of Fulton, where Churchill augured the coming Cold War in 1946. The sculpture, titled "Breakthrough," stands across a plaza from a bronze statue of the World War II-era British leader, who in a postwar speech in Fulton said of Europe that "an iron curtain has descended across the continent." In dedicating the concrete sculpture by Edwina Sandys, Reagan yesterday said, "We {have} come full circle from those anxious times. Ours is a more peaceful planet because of people like Churchill and {Missourian Harry S.} Truman and countless others."

Kate at 81 Katharine Hepburn turned 81 on Thursday and says she still enjoys life to the fullest. "Getting old?" she reflected in an interview with the Associated Press. "I think it's unhealthy." The Academy Award-winning actress recognizes that she is "gradually disintegrating," but says, "I don't fear the next world or anything. I don't fear Hell, and I don't look forward to Heaven. I look forward to oblivion."

The Reviews Are In Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping has turned staying in power into a high art, but his daughter, Deng Lin, is getting less than rave reviews for her artistic efforts. Lin, 49, will be opening an exhibit of her paintings in Tokyo this week, and according to a discreetly anonymous Chinese official there, "Her standard is just average," adding that "if she were not the daughter of her father, none of us would be here." Still, she is expected to clear $300,000 in sales.

Worldly Beauty Queen The Miss World Contest, held annually in London for 40 years, was won this year by an American. Gina Marie Tolleson, 21, of Spartanburg, S.C., who is Miss United States, won $19,000 plus various work contracts Thursday after defeating runners-up Miss Ireland and Miss Venezuela. Hall of Fame Arsenio Hall got a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame this week, and when he found it was beside that of a certain movie goddess and in front of a certain restaurant, he was pleased: "Boy, my two favorite things -- Marilyn Monroe and McDonald's!"