Jun 10

The author at The Joy of Sake New York, September 2014 (Courtesy of Chris Johnson)

 

By Chris Johnson (Oita-ken, 1992-95) for JQ magazine. An SSI-certified sake sommelier based in New York City, Chris is also known as the Sake Ninja and serves on the board of directors of The Joy of Sake.

It is day two of my tenure as an AET in Kusu-machi in Oita Prefecture. After organizing my desk, I spent the morning greeting the mayor, the head of the board of education, my section boss, my subsection boss and my co-workers at the yakuba. Day turned to evening and I already learned my tenth word of the day: enkai. Party, banquet, reception, dinner, but as most JETs will recognize…this means sake. As a new member of an office or school we are kohai to everyone, which happens to mean a lot of sake.

I had enkais with the board of education, the financial department, the surveying department, the events department, the communications department (basically, all of the departments!). I had them with the English teachers, with the seven different junior high school teachers’ groups, the volleyball team, the baseball team (as the first foreigner from the U.S. to live in town, I was a little popular)…

With all that sake sipping, did I instantly grow to love sake? Not exactly. We always had a very good locally brewed sake, but it was almost always warm and I never quite sipped it to really understand it; it was more like a placeholder between a beer kanpai and the slow transition to whiskey and karaoke.

Three years later at my farewell party I was presented with an 1800 ml bottle of Yatsushika Junmai Daiginjo sake from a famous producer in Oita. Exactly. “What is a Junmai Daiginjo?,” I thought, “and how can I fit this in my already overstuffed luggage? It’s just sake.” All these thoughts happened while on stage receiving this wonderful yet misunderstood gift. I decided then and there to share it with everyone: less luggage, less sake and everybody happy. Win-win. Kanpai and…what?!? Why have I not had this amazing beverage before? I need this in my life.

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Jun 3

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — New York Japan CineFest, The Joy of Sake, J-MUSIC Ensemble

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobeshi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

After an unusually chilly spring, it’s finally starting to feel like summer. Enjoy some seasonal events this month that celebrate the best of both fine art and pop art.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Asiasociety.org

June 5-6, 6:30 p.m.

New York Japan CineFest 2019

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

$12, $10 seniors/students, $8 members

Highlighting some of the most exciting new voices in cinema, New York Japan CineFest is an annual event that features works by emerging Japanese and Japanese American filmmakers. This two-day program of short live action and animated films includes Formal Warrior Suit Ranger, about a team of men and women who properly dress for both their occupations and their fight with evil; Minidoka, about a yonsei Seattle-based activist who sees parallels between his own family’s history and the Trump administration’s immigration policies; and Mountain Monks, about the Yamabushi in northern Japan, who practice a once-forbidden ancient religion. The first night’s program is followed by a reception.

Ichi-ka

Monday, June 10, 6:30 p.m.

Sweetness in Serenity

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

$40, $30 seniors/students, $20 members

Join Master Junichi Mitsubori for this special demonstration of the making of artisanal Japanese desserts.! Akin to the precision and refinement of the Japanese tea ceremony, the Way of Wagashi transforms traditional sweet-making into a form of consumable art. Master Mitsubori crafts the nerikiri (bean paste with mochi) with his hands, scissors and needles into intricately delicious creations. Master Mitsubori’s talent has been showcased at prestigious venues around the world, including the Sydney Opera House and the Salon du Chocolat in Paris. The demonstration will be followed by Q&A and a reception to sample Master Mitsubori’s confectionery masterpieces. Special introductory remarks will be made by Ambassador Kanji Yamanouchi, Consul General of Japan in New York.

Courtesy of Joyofsake.com

Friday, June 21, 6:30 p.m.

The Joy of Sake

Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street

$110

Take 513 premium sakes + 19 top restaurants = one amazing evening! Experience the largest and liveliest sake-tasting event in the U.S., with award-winning sakes from the U.S. National Sake Appraisal served in peak condition, plus sake-inspired appetizers to nibble while you sip. This year’s superb restaurant line-up features names like Morimoto, Sakagura. And Momofuku Ssäm Bar. Good food, good friends, good sake—it all comes together at The Joy of Sake. JQ readers receive a $15 discount by entering the promotional code JOYJET after clicking the “tickets” button on the event page here.

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May 30

Justin’s Japan: The Joy of Sake

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Returning to New York in June for its 15th annual celebration, The Joy of Sake hosts the world’s largest sake tasting outside Japan, with a record 513 competition-level sakes and 19 top restaurants serving the best in traditional and contemporary Asian cuisine.

While statistics show that sake is losing ground to beer in Japan, it continues to make inroads in the U.S., especially among drink-savvy New Yorkers.

“The best showcase of this in the U.S. is The Joy of Sake,” said Joy of Sake board member Chris Johnson (Oita-ken, 1992-95), an experienced sommelier and restauranteur whose time in Japan began in the early ’90s as a participant of the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme. Also known as the Sake Ninja, Johnson adds, “As a JET alum, having the opportunity to work with the national beverage of Japan is an honor and truly important.”

A beverage that can be paired with foods as diverse as sushi, chocolate and even pizza, sake lovers will also be able to sample exclusive appetizers at the event from some of New York’s most distinguished eateries, including Morimoto, Sakagura and Momofuku Ssäm Bar, enhancing the appreciation of the luster that fine sakes add to a meal.

A brewer’s technique and commitment help determine a great sake, and over 200 sakes not available in the U.S. are featured in this year’s lineup, including more than 100 gold award winners from the 2019 U.S. National Sake Appraisal.

“It’s safe to say,” said Joy of Sake founder Chris Pearce, “that New York has never seen a sake event like this.”

Experience The Joy of Sake Friday, June 21 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street. For more information and tickets, visit www.joyofsake.com.


May 3

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — The GazettE, ‘Detective Pikachu,’ Japan Night Live

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobeshi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

As spring continues and the weather continues to warm, New Yorkers can enjoy activities all over the city both indoors and out.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Playstationtheater.com

Monday, May 6, 8:00 p.m.

The GazettE

PlayStation Theater, 1515 Broadway

$50

Making their return to NYC after a three-year absence are the GazettE, a Kanagawa-based rock quintet that follows in the footsteps of other Gotham-conquering visual kei acts like X Japan and LArc~en~Ciel. Formed in 2002, the band has performed in Europe multiple times since 2007, and will headline across America this spring in support of its latest album, 2018’s Ninth. Still completely self-produced, the GazettE continue moving forward, uncompromised in their artistic and unique worldview at home and abroad.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Premieres Friday, May 10

Pokémon Detective Pikachu

Various theaters

In this first-ever live-action Pokémon film, ace detective Harry Goodman (Justice Smith) goes mysteriously missing, prompting his 21-year-old son Tim to find out what happened. Aiding in the investigation is Harry’s former Pokémon partner, Detective Pikachu (voiced by Ryan Reynolds): a hilariously wise-cracking, adorable super-sleuth who is a puzzlement even to himself. Finding that they are uniquely equipped to communicate with one another, Tim and Pikachu join forces on a thrilling adventure to unravel the tangled mystery in a modern metropolis where humans and Pokémon live side by side in a hyper-realistic live-action world.

Courtesy of Japannight.org

Sunday, May 12, 6:00 p.m.

Japan Night: HYDE & WagakkiBand

PlayStation Theater, 1515 Broadway

$35

Presented in collaboration with Japan Day @ Central Park, Japan 2019 Presents Japan Night will celebrate contemporary popular Japanese music with four of the most successful artists in Japan today through two consecutive shows. HYDE, who is also known as a lead singer of L’Arc-en-Ciel (the first Japanese act to headline Madison Square Garden in 2012) and a member of VAMPS, is a pioneer of Japanese rock who has recorded more than 60 songs breaking the Oricon (Japanese Billboard Chart) top 10.

WagakkiBand is a viral video sensation that combines traditional Japanese instruments with modern rock. They fuse shigin (poetry recitation, one of Japan’s classic performing arts), wagakki (traditional Japanese musical instruments), and rock. The music video of “Senbon Zakura,” included in their 2014 debut album, has been viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube. After five years, they now sell out arena shows, and their special live organized by Tencent streamed more than 100 million times in the first 24 hours.

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Apr 4

Justin’s Japan: ‘Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon’ Makes Broadway Debut

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

On March 29-30, “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon the Super Live” premiered with three sold-out performances at the PlayStation Theater. This dazzling musical adaptation of the megahit anime and manga franchise, which has generated $5 billion in merchandise sales to date, featured a talented all-female cast (including for the male roles) performing in Japanese.

“At its core, ‘Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon’ is about strong girlfriends banding together to fight for what they believe in…they are the ultimate example of ‘girl power,’” said show producer Takaharu Uera. This universal theme was reflected in the wide diversity of the audience, who were overjoyed to see their heroines come to life.

Innovatively directed and choreographed by TAKAHIRO (Madonna’s Sticky & Sweet Tour) with book by Akiko Kodama (Takarazuka Revue Company) and music by HYADAIN (pop groups Momoiro Clover Z and AKB48), these performances also marked the first time a 2.5D musical, a genre based on popular contemporary Japanese properties like manga, anime and video games, was performed on a New York stage.

First published by creator Naoko Takeuchi in 1991, the manga is now localized in more than 14 countries and released as an anime in more than 50 countries around the world, according to Naho Yamada, general manager of Kodansha USA Publishing, which ran a packed pop-up store at the theater displaying the newest volume of the “Sailor Moon Eternal Edition” collection and other exclusive goods that had thousands of fans eagerly lining up before and after the shows.

“We are happy that fans of all ages have the opportunity to experience ‘Sailor Moon’ in new ways, and that it continues to be a worldwide phenomenon,” said Yamada.

For more information, visit http://sailormoon-official.com/stage/superlive/us.


Apr 4

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Studio Ghibli Fest, ‘Okko’s Inn,’ Sakura Matsuri

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Spring has sprung in the Big Apple, and that means one thing: a new season of sounds, colors, and spectacular performing arts to match the blossoming sakura trees throughout the city.

This month’s highlights include:

Eleven Arts

April 5-11

Penguin Highway

Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue

$8-$15

The acclaimed directorial debut from Hiroyasu Ishida! Budding genius Aoyama is only in the fourth grade, but already lives his life like a scientist. When penguins start appearing in his sleepy suburb hundreds of miles from the sea, Aoyama vows to solve the mystery. When he finds the source of the penguins is a woman from his dentist’s office, they team up for an unforgettable summer adventure. Presented in Japanese; select screenings are also English dubbed from April 6-11.

GKIDS

April 7-8, 10

Howl’s Moving Castle: 15th Anniversary

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC Kips Bay 15, 570 Second Avenue

$12.50

Kicking off this year’s Studio Ghibli Fest is an Academy Award-nominated fantasy adventure for the whole family from acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away). Sophie, a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. The vain and vengeful Witch of the Waste, jealous of their friendship, puts a curse on Sophie and turns her into a 90-year-old woman. On a quest to break the spell, Sophie climbs aboard Howl’s magnificent moving castle and into a new life of wonder and adventure. The April 7 and 10 screenings are dubbed in English, and the April 8 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

© Julieta Cervantes; Karole Armitage © Marco Mignani

April 12-13, 7:30 p.m.

Karole Armitage’s You Took a Part of Me

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$30, $25 members

You Took a Part of Me is a wired dance production with choreography by “punk ballerina” Karole Armitage for her five-member dance company Armitage Gone! Dance. Loosely based on the 15th-century noh play Nonomiya, it explores erotic entanglement, unresolved attachments and the search for harmony, all of which are hallmarks of noh drama. Set to live music by Reiko Yamada and Yuki Isami, the show embraces new technologies created by MIT Media Lab designers. The lead role, by Armitage’s longtime collaborator Megumi Eda, highlights sinuous, seductive movement executed with ferocious intensity in a dream-like state. The April 12 performance is followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception, and the April 13, performance is followed by an artist Q&A.

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Mar 22

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Genji at the Met, Perfume Returns, Sailor Moon on Broadway

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Stay warm this winter with some hot local events, from live showcases that will transport you to another time and place, some new anime screenings, and a 2.5D musical performance you won’t want to miss.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Metmuseum.org

Now through June 16

The Tale of Genji: A Japanese Classic Illuminated

Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue

$12-$25

This is the first major loan exhibition in North America to focus on the artistic tradition inspired by Japan’s most celebrated work of literature, The Tale of Genji. Written by Murasaki Shikibu, a lady-in-waiting in the early eleventh-century imperial court, and often referred to as the world’s first psychological novel, the tale recounts the amorous escapades of the “Shining Prince” Genji and introduces some of the most iconic female characters in the history of Japanese literature. Covering the period from the eleventh century to the present, the exhibition features more than 120 works, including paintings, calligraphy, silk robes, lacquer wedding set items, a palanquin for the shogun’s bride, and popular art such as ukiyo-e prints and modern manga. Highlights include two National Treasures and several works recognized as Important Cultural Properties. For the first time ever outside Japan, rare works are on view from Ishiyamadera Temple—where, according to legend, Shikibu started writing the tale.

© Sopheak Vong

March 22-23, 7:30 p.m.

Akiko Kitamura’s Cross Transit

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$30, $25 members

How can Cambodia’s past be preserved through the human body? Akiko Kitamura, internationally acclaimed Japanese dancer and founder/former choreographer of Leni-Basso dance company, tackles this challenge together with Cambodian visual artist/photographer Kim Hak. Ambitious yet poetic, Cross Transit is a multimedia dance piece in which Hak’s video, photos, voice and personal experiences intertwine with Kitamura’s bold, progressive choreography. A MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception follows the March 22 performance, with an artist Q&A following the March 23 performance.

 

Courtesy of Sailormoon-official.com

March 29-30

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Super Live

PlayStation Theater, 1515 Broadway

$30-$75

See Sailor Moon and her friends fight the forces of darkness—live on stage! Directed and choreographed by Takahiro (Madonna’s Sticky and Sweet Tour) with book by Akiko Kodama (Takarazuka Revue Company), and music by Hyadain (pop groups Momoiro Clover Z and AKB48), The Super Live is the first time that Sailor Moon (one of the most popular anime and manga heroines of all time, generating $5 billion in sales) comes to the New York stage in celebration of its 25th anniversary. These special performances (three in total) marks the first time a 2.5D Musical will be on an American stage. 2.5D Musicals, which began around 2000, are based on popular contemporary Japanese culture: manga comics, anime and video games. Presented in Japanese with English supertitles.

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Feb 19

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — ‘Alita: Battle Angel,’ ‘Urusei Yatsura’ Returns, Puppet Theatre

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Stay warm this winter with some hot local events, from live showcases that will transport you to another time and place, some new anime screenings, and a theatrical performance you won’t want to miss.

This month’s highlights include:

20th Century Fox

Now playing

Alita: Battle Angel

Various locations/prices

The number one movie in the world! From visionary filmmakers James Cameron (Avatar) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) comes Alita: Battle Angel, an epic adventure of hope and empowerment based on the acclaimed manga series by Yukito Kishiro. When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, she discovers a clue to her past through unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control.

VIZ Media

Tuesday, Feb. 19

Urusei Yatsura, Vol. 1

$19.99 MSRP

After decades out of print, the hilarious manga classic that launched the career of Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma ½, Inuyasha) returns in all-new deluxe English editions! Beautiful space alien princess Lum invades Earth on her UFO, and unlucky Ataru Moroboshi’s world gets turned upside down! Will Lum become Earth’s electrifying new leader? Or will Ataru somehow miraculously save Earth from space alien onslaught? In a high-stakes game of tag, Ataru must touch Lum’s horns in ten days—or aliens will take over the earth! As it turns out, the game of tag is only the beginning of Ataru’s troubles, as he continues to attract strange encounters with otherworldly beings like beautiful snow spirit Oyuki and the sexy crow goblin Princess Kurama!

Courtesy of Ticketfly.com

 

 

Friday, Feb. 22, 7:00 p.m.

Marty Friedman

Saint Vitus, 1120 Manhattan Avenue (Brooklyn)

$20-$70

Fluent in Japanese, this ex-Cacophony/Megadeth axeman’s overwhelming love of Japanese music and the Japanese language found him moving to Tokyo in 2003. It is there where his career took off in very unexpected ways. Currently he is a constant fixture on Japanese television (appearing on hundreds of network programs of all types, and as the face of long running campaigns for Fanta/Coca Cola, Sumitomo Bank, Suntory etc.), as well as appearing in major motion pictures. He is also the author of two hardcover books in Japanese detailing his unusual views on the current Japanese music scene, as well as two best-selling manga-related books, which are both in their eighth editions now. Catch Friedman as he supports his latest release, One Bad M.F. Live!!, with his band featuring Kiyoshi (bass), Jordan Ziff (guitar), and Chargeeee (drums). Featuring support by Immortal Guardian.

© Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater

Feb. 28-March 2, 7:30 p.m.

Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$40, $33 Japan Society members

Koryu Nishikawa, the fifth grand master of Hachioji Kuruma Ningyo Puppet Theater, returns to NYC (and marking the first bunraku performance at Japan Society in a decade) with four female-focused stories from classic literature: Kuzunoha, about a mother’s undying love for her child; Date Musume Koi Higanoko, which depicts a woman’s heroic sacrifice for her lover; Tsuri On’na, a comical piece about “fishing” for a wife; and Yugao, a new work from Nishikawa based on a story from The Tale of Genji, in which the jealous spirit of one of Genji’s lovers possesses a young woman he’s courting. Kuruma ningyo, literally meaning “puppets on wheels,” refers to the company’s unique technique in which the puppeteer sits atop a three-wheeled dolly, adding an element of dynamism and power to each character. Don’t miss this rare chance to see a full-scale production with chanters and shamisen players. Performed in Japanese with English titles. A pre-performance lecture begins one hour prior to the start of the performance. The Feb. 28 performance is followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception.

Want to stay in the loop on future eventsFollow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.


Feb 7

Justin’s Japan: ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Hollywood adaptations of famous anime and manga series have a history of troubled birth and indifferent reception. “Speed Racer,” “Dragonball: Evolution,” and “Ghost in the Shell” didn’t click with fans of the source material, nor did they gain new ones through the interpretations of directors who might not have grasped their appeal in the first place. “Alita: Battle Angel” looks to change that trend.

Produced and co-written by James Cameron and directed by Robert Rodriguez (the “Sin City” and “Spy Kids” films), “Alita” brings original creator Yukito Kishiro’s epic to the big screen. Rosa Salazar (“Maze Runner,” “Bird Box”) plays the titular heroine, a cyborg with saucer-like eyes and a combat-scarred past who is revived in the post-apocalyptic future world of Iron City. Using her newfound skills as a bounty hunter, Alita fights to rediscover her humanity and find a place in her new surroundings.

With a cast that includes Academy Award winners Christoph Waltz, Mahershala Ali and Jennifer Connelly, along with a reported $200 million production budget with Dolby Cinema and IMAX 3D screenings, “Alita” has received advance praise: “The A.V. Club” calls it Rodriguez’s “best movie in ages,” and “The Verge” calls it “a worldbuilding triumph.”

First published in 1990 under the title “Gunnm” and recently reissued here as deluxe hardcover editions by “Attack on Titan” publisher Kodansha Comics, the film adaptation was first considered by devotee Cameron as his feature follow-up to “Titanic.” Rodriguez came aboard in 2015 as the steward to his vision, which includes 1,500 CGI shots in native 3D, climaxing with Iron City’s motorball competition, which blends turbo racing with gladiatorial combat.

“Alita: Battle Angel” premieres in North America February 14. For more information, visit www.foxmovies.com/movies/alita-battle-angel.


Dec 31

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — ‘Modest Heroes,’ ‘Dragon Ball Z Super: Broly,’ ‘A Silent Voice’

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Start the new year right by heading down to your local concert venue, cinema, or arts center for some fantastic new year’s fare. Whether you enjoy movies, travel, or orchestral performances classic video games, treat yourself and catch a break from the cold.

This month’s highlights include:

Silver Knife © Jusung Lee; Pollen Revolution © Hiroyasu Daido; Kids © Etang Chen

Jan. 4-5, 7:30 p.m.

Contemporary Dance Festival: Japan + East Asia

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$30, $25 Japan Society members

Formerly known as the Contemporary Dance Showcase, this year’s festival continues with three revelatory and robust works from three countries. From Japan, Mitsutake Kasai performs butoh master Akira Kasai’s legendary piece Pollen Revolution. Hailed as “energetic and altogether wonderfully human” two decades ago, Sr. Kasai choreographs a revival of this eclectic dance for his son. From Taiwan, choreographed by emerging star Kuan-Hsiang Liu, Kids is a tribute to death and the choreographer’s mother. Performed to voice recordings of Liu with his mother during her fight against cancer, this modern-day grief ritual is full of idiosyncratic motion and moments of serenity. From Korea, Silver Knife by Goblin Party delves into conflicting portrayals of female identity through the eloquently crafted movements of four women. The Friday, Jan. 4 performance is followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception.

GKIDS

Jan. 10, 12

Modest Heroes: Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC Kips Bay 15, 570 Second Avenue

$10

Studio Ponoc, the new animation studio founded by two-time Academy Award-nominee Yoshiaki Nishimura (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There) and featuring many artists from the venerable Studio Ghibli, made an immediate splash with their acclaimed debut film Mary and The Witch’s Flower last year. The studio returns this year with Modest Heroes, an ambitious anthology of three thrilling tales created by some of the greatest talents working in Japanese animation today. The Jan. 12 screenings will be presented in English.

Courtesy of Facebook.com/vgmjamnyc.jpg

Sunday, Jan. 13, 6:00-9:00 p.m.

VGM+ Jazz Jam Session

Black Cat LES, 172 Rivington Street

No cover

Every first Sunday of each month, Black Cat LES hosts the J-MUSIC Pocket Band’s VGM+ Jazz Jam Sessions, which showcases live collective performances of legendary tunes from Pokémon, Zelda, Sonic, Mario, anime, J-pop, and everything in between! In celebration of the latest release of another storied Nintendo franchise, the group (led by Grammy Award-nominated composer Patrick Bartley Jr.) will dedicate the first theme of the new year to Super Smash Bros. This one-of-a-kind performance will include music from every game in the series—something you won’t want to miss! For more info, click here or contact info@jmusicband.com.

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Dec 11

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Dragon Quest Illustrations: 30th Anniversary Edition’

“Packed with over 500 iconic hand-drawn illustrations, this handsome, 240-page hardcover edition is a testament to the artist who helped set the visual standard for RPGs, raising the bar impossibly higher with each release.” (VIZ Media)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005, and is eagerly awaiting the 30th anniversary edition of All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku. For more of his articles, click here.

In the summer of 1988, the “World News” page in the debut issue of Nintendo Power magazine reported: “Ninjas and Kung-Fu Masters are no longer heros [sic] to Japanese players since they are now being replaced by warriors and sorcerers who bravely confront dragons with their swords and shields.”

With this mind-blowing description, my eight-year-old self was introduced to the world of Dragon Quest.

With over 71 million copies sold, this landmark video game series published by Enix (now Square Enix) is still going strong, with eleven main titles and thirty overall, securing a legacy that spans at least three generations. While role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons and Ultima existed long before game consoles invaded our homes, DQ was the one that rewrote the book and kept adding chapters that everyone from Final Fantasy to Pokémon copied from, long after its initial release in Japan in 1986 (and in the U.S. as Dragon Warrior in 1989).

Ironically, those other series are probably better known in the West, likely because for years Dragon Warrior lacked the “star power” associated with one man whose fame in Japan easily rivaled any game: Akira Toriyama. As the creator/illustrator/genius behind the back-to-back manga smashes Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball, Toriyama was coaxed by his trend-savvy editor to lend his talents to a new sword-and-sorcery title, marking a profound transformation (and future synergy) between the manga and gaming worlds. After DQ, nothing would ever be the same.

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Dec 1

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Radio City Christmas, Mickey Mouse @ 90, Miyazaki Doc

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

With Thanksgiving (and the hopes of sensible eating) now just a memory, we turn to colder weather, falling snow, and the new year to come. Fortunately for Japanese culture fans, December is just as busy as the holiday season itself. Whether you’re hosting guests from out of town or looking to squeeze in an event or two in between parties, we’ve got you covered.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of MSG Entertainment

Now through Jan. 1

Radio City Christmas Spectacular

Radio City Music Hall, 1260 Sixth Avenue

From $41

Featuring an all-new finale number (with costumes to match), the seasonal tradition of this legendary New York show, now in its 86th edition, features the Rockettes, ensemble dancers, and Santa himself, for a show guaranteed to delight all ages! Among the more than 50 dancers for this year’s performance is Tokyo native Arisa Odaka, who performed with Ken Watanabe in the Lincoln Center Theater production of The King and I in 2015.

© Disney

Now through Feb. 10

Mickey: The True Original Exhibition

60 Tenth Avenue

$38

Featuring exclusive works from Keichi Tanaami (SPIRAL) and Tetsuya Nomura (Kingdom Hearts), Mickey: The True Original Exhibition celebrates 90 years of Mickey Mouse’s influence on art and pop culture. This immersive, one-of-a-kind experience is inspired by Mickey’s status as a “true original” and his consistent impact on the arts and creativity in all its forms. Guests will have the chance to explore the 16,000 square-foot exhibition featuring both historic and contemporary work from renowned artists.

© Sony Pictures

Friday, Dec. 7, 7:00 p.m.

Tokyo Godfathers

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$14, $11 seniors/students, $5 members

While rummaging through trash heaps on Christmas Eve, three homeless companions—a middle-aged alcoholic, a transgender ex-drag queen and a hot-tempered teen runaway—stumble upon an abandoned newborn. Determined to find the child’s mother, the trio search Tokyo’s sprawling streets, buildings and back alleys, helped along by a series of coincidental encounters that gradually reveal the truth of their traumatic pasts. Imbued with deep empathy for its down-and-out yet lively characters, this atypical holiday comedy by celebrated animation director Satoshi Kon (Perfect Blue, Paprika) highlights the redemptive power of love and family (chosen or otherwise) amidst life on the fringes of society. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

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Nov 30

Justin’s Japan: When the White House Came to Japan

Click image to view article on page 25

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

About 30 minutes west of Orlando in Clermont, Florida is the Presidents Hall of Fame. This informative, family-friendly spot contains realistic wax figures, hundreds of pieces of political memorabilia, and a roadside replica of Mount Rushmore.

Its centerpiece is a 60-foot long scale reproduction of the White House with full interior, which has taken over 40 years to research, design and construct. The White House in Miniature was created by John and Jan Zweifel of Orlando, Florida, their family, and hundreds of artisans, creating what the Hall describes as “a gift to the people.”

“John Zweifel developed its concept in 1956,” said Tommy Candido, art director for the Hall. “In the 1960s, he started putting drawings together and doing the research. There’s one story where he found some blueprints in the basement of a library in Chicago. The Secret Service came because they were supposed to have it, but nobody knew about it.”

The miniature toured Japan in July 1995 at a Smithsonian Institute-sanctioned display in Chiba celebrating U.S.-Japan history on the 140th anniversary of the Treaty of Peace and Amity. Attending the opening event were Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Walter Mondale, and Prince and Princess Akishino.

Candido noted that Zweifel, who is also the Hall’s owner, “has plans for the U.S. Tricentennial in 2076. He has passion and wants this to reteach the people that the United States is more than politics; the replica and the museum transcends politics. If there’s anything that in existence is bipartisan, it’s here.”

The Presidents Hall of Fame is located at 123 N Hwy 27 in Clermont, and is open seven days a week. For more information call (352) 394-2836, email phofjz@gmail.com, or visit their homepage at www.thepresidentshalloffame.com.


Nov 4

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Joe Hisaishi, Anime NYC, ‘Shoplifters’

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

From the silver screen to the stage to J-pop, November is just as colorful as the autumn leaves drifting through the air. Add these live events to the mix and you’ve got an irresistibly epic rundown.

This month’s highlights include:

FUNimation

Nov. 3, 5

Dragon Ball Z: Saiyan Double Feature

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

$12.50

Catch these two DBZ films back-to-back for the first time in U.S. theaters—fully remastered! In Bardock: The Father of Goku, a low-class Saiyan soldier unexpectedly inherits the ability to see into the future. Haunted by visions of his own end as well as the destruction of his entire planet, Bardock sets off on a nightmarish race with fate to advert the impending disaster. Then, in Fusion Reborn, an industrial disaster in Other World unleashes the monstrous Janemba, a beast who grows stronger with each passing minute. While Goku and Vegeta fight for Other World’s survival, Goten and Trunks confront a ghoulish army of the undead back on Earth, where only an unprecedented act of teamwork can save the universe! Presented in English.

© SUSIE/© Takao Iwasawa

Saturday, Nov. 10, 7:30 p.m.

Akiko Yano + Seiho: Unusual Pairings

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$38, $30 members

Beloved pianist/singer-songwriter Akiko Yano returns to Japan Society for a U.S. premiere collaboration with rising Osaka-based electronic sound artist/DJ and ikebana enthusiast Seiho. This one-of-a-kind concert mixes the singular stylings of Yano’s piano and singing with Seiho’s thumping, atmospheric beats, and flower arranging! Join us on this moody trip into the soundscapes of these two formidable artists as their music melds, merges and even takes shape in floral form.

Courtesy of Willow Arts (Shanghai)

Sunday, Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m.

Joe Hisaishi and David Lang: Music Future Vol. 5

Zankel Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue

$59-$99

Music Future is a concert series started in 2014 by Studio Ghibli film composer, conductor, and pianist Joe Hisaishi. Intended to introduce the latest in contemporary classical music, Music Future includes works from composers Arnold Schoenberg, John Adams, David Lang, Philip Glass, and Bryce Dessner performed by the Future Orchestra. In addition, Hisaishi presents a newly composed work each year. This year, David Lang will join Music Future at Carnegie Hall to present his latest work, Increase.

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Oct 6

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Perfume’s “GAME”’

“To call Perfume’s GAME a ‘deep dive’ is both an understatement and compliment. From its very first chapter, St. Michel’s decade of experience writing about music shines.” (Bloomsbury Academic)

By Greg Beck (Hiroshima-ken, 2006-11) for JQ magazine. Greg is a writer, producer, home brewer, and Social Coordinator for JETAA Southern California and Arizona. A former news producer for Tokyo Broadcasting System in New York, he currently works freelance in Los Angeles. For more cinema reviews, follow him on Twitter at @CIRBECK #MovieReview.

If you were to ask me prior to writing this, I vaguely recalled Perfume as some heavily autotuned “girl group” from Hiroshima. Now that I have read Perfume’s GAME, all of that has changed.

Written by JET alum Patrick St. Michel (Mie-ken, 2009-11) and released earlier this year, this insightful work of nonfiction is part of a series called 33 1/3 Japan, also related to a larger, global series of short, music-based books sharing the 33 1/3 title. This book specifically goes beyond simple fandom, providing a master class on the early-to-sophomore career of the pop group Perfume, and how their album GAME would become an important influence in popular music on the international level.

To call Perfume’s GAME a “deep dive” is both understatement and compliment. From its first chapter, St. Michel’s decade of experience writing about music shines. That’s an extremely difficult task for the written word, given we perceive music using a different sense entirely. Descriptive prose does an excellent job identifying and elucidating songs and their smaller components. St. Michel starts with a modest introduction of his personal discovery of Perfume and how it helped him connect to his Japanese community, which for any JET alum should feel familiar, if not nostalgic. Next, he tells the story of the members of Perfume and their humble beginnings. Had the rest of the book been solely focused on their music, it would only be worth reading if you were already a diehard fan, but the author does much more.

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