After you’ve seen the outdoor fireworks, enjoy some summer events in the cool indoors, whether it’s catching one of the dozens films premiering at Japan Society’s annual festival, or enjoying anything from traditional theater to the latest pop sensation.
This month’s highlights include:
Various dates beginning July 6
Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue
This month, Village East Cinema presents four films from the legendary Studio Ghibli and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki! Every Wednesday and Thursday from July 6 through July 28 offers a chance to enjoy some Japan’s greatest and most influential animated films on the big screen. The morning screenings are English dubbed versions, while the evening screenings are in Japanese with English subtitles. July’s selections include Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke.
Rose Theater, Broadway at West 60th Street, 5F
In the enigmatic Japanese dramas of Noh, ancient stories from classical Japanese literature and oral traditions come to life in a sublime, ritualized blend of poetry, music, drama, and dance. The divide between the natural and supernatural is bridged as spirits and humans interact in a world rife with symbolism. The nearly 700-year-old dramatic form—known to many for its highly stylized masks and elegantly simple set featuring a single pine tree—is one of the world’s oldest continuously performed genres of performance art and was recently designated an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO. Kiyokazu Kanze—the 26th Grand Master of the Kanze School and a descendent of the founder of Noh—brings the profound lyricism and aesthetic elegance of this ancient dramatic art form to New York as part of this year’s Lincoln Center Festival. A special lecture and demonstration by Kiyokazu Kanze will be held July 12 at Japan Society; click here for more info and tickets.
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
$10-$20 (single screenings)
North America’s largest festival of new Japanese film returns for its 10th anniversary edition, offering eleven days of impossible-to-see-anywhere-else screenings of the best new movies made in and around Japan with special guest filmmakers and stars, post-screening Q&As, parties, giveaways and much more. With special guests such as Lily Franky, Atsuko Maeda and Sion Sono, this year’s festival guest list is the largest in history, and includes directors, stars, producers and more. Make sure to also check out this year’s expanded DOCUMENTARY FOCUS and EXPERIMENTAL SPOTLIGHT sections. Venture out of the mainstream to discover new work by some of Japan’s most vital and interesting nonfiction and avant-garde practitioners. The experimental lineup is dedicated to animation, offering vibrant short-form alternatives to the ubiquitous anime for which Japan is so famous.
Thursday, July 14, 8:00 p.m.
Rough Trade NYC, 64 N 9th Street (Brooklyn)
$15 advance, $18 day of show
A native of Kobe, trumpeter Takuya Kuroda arrived in the U.S. in 2003 after playing in jazz bands for years. He says he really got into jazz by playing on the local scene with the smaller combos. “The big band was just playing music charts; it didn’t have much improvisation,” Kuroda explains, “I sat in with a lot of the elders on the local scene. They showed me so much love.” Kuroda eventually came to the Berklee College of Music, where he had his first formal jazz studies. “I never had a jazz music teacher in Japan. I took my first music theory, ear training and jazz ensemble classes for the first time in my life in English, which made it even crazier,” he says, “But that made me want to come to New York.” Now, the Brooklyn-based musician has been leading his own bands and has released four albums to date, the latest being 2014’s Rising Son, produced by José James.
Friday, July 15, 8:00 p.m.
Highline Ballroom, 431 West 16th Street
This year, Hotei celebrates his 35th anniversary in music with a return to New York. Hotei will be showcasing songs from 2015’s Strangers album as well as fan favorites like “Battle Without Honor or Humanity,” instantly recognizable as the theme from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill. Boasting a stellar career spanning more than three decades, Hotei’s accomplishments as a guitarist, composer, singer-songwriter and producer place him firmly among the ranks of global music legends. He has joined the Rolling Stones on stage in Tokyo, and has also worked with David Bowie, Jesus Jones, Joni Mitchell, Lee Ritenour and David Sanborn, amongst many others. In 1996, Hotei played guitar under the baton of Michael Kamen at the closing ceremony for the Atlanta Olympics, which then led to their collaboration on Kamen’s album Guitar Concerto.
David H. Koch Theater, 20 Lincoln Center Plaza
This special North American premiere, also part of this year’s Lincoln Center Festival, features an all-female production of the classic 1975 Tony Award–winning musical with Kander and Ebb’s classic songs—sung entirely in Japanese with English supertitles—and Bob Fosse’s iconic choreography. Formed in 1914 to attract tourists to the hot springs town that bears its name, the Takarazuka Revue has grown into a cultural phenomenon in Japan, drawing a devoted fan base of 2.5 million theatergoers annually for its adaptations of classic Western and Japanese stories, movies, and plays. Whether viewed as a sly subversion of traditionally rigid gender roles or lavish, Las Vegas-style entertainment, Takarazuka is an unforgettable theatrical experience.
Monday, July 25, 8:00 p.m.
PlayStation Theater, 1515 Broadway
Straight outta Harajuku, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (or KPP) is a combination model/artist with self-producing skill. KPP started her career modeling for local fashion magazines when she was in high school and earned a great reputation and support from her enthusiastic teen fans all over Japan who were also attracted to Harajuku fashion culture. KKP also became a well-known blogger due to her utterly uninhibited way of expression rare for most pop singers. She released her debut mini album Moshi Moshi Harajuku (Hello Harajuku) in 2011, with the music video for the hit single “PonPonPon” receiving more than 96 million views on YouTube to date. She has since released three studio albums, and toured the U.S. in 2013 and 2014. This year marks an anniversary year for KPP: the fifth year from her stunning professional recording debut. KPP has new surprises in store for her fans around the world to make this year’s performances very special.
For more Nippon in New York articles, click here.