Oct 3

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Pico Iyer, Hiromi, Lincoln Center Bunraku

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.

The Japan-centric events of the month ahead promise to be as rich and full as autumn itself—brisk and colorful, with a dash of unpredictability.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Zac Zinger

Thursday, Oct. 3, 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Zac Zinger Fulfillment Release Concert

Jazz at Kitano, 66 Park Avenue

$18 cover, call (212) 885-7119 for reservations

A four-time recipient of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, Zac Zinger is a composer and musician (whose credits includes Final Fantasy XV: Assassin’s Festival and Street Fighter V) ready to unleash his debut album. Fulfillment is a compilation of Zinger’s best compositions for small jazz ensemble over the last decade, performed on shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and saxophone with his progressive jazz quartet featuring Sharik Hasan on piano, Adam Neely on bass, and Luke Markham on drums.

Courtesy of MuSE

Sunday, Oct. 6, 2:00 p.m.

Wind of Tsugaru in New York: Bunta Satoh, Tsugarubue

Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall), 881 Seventh Avenue

$25-$45 (click here for 20% discount for orchestra seats)

Flautist Bunta Satoh introduces the history and culture of Tsugarubue, a Japanese bamboo flute from the Tsugaru region of Aomori Prefecture. In addition to performing this one-of-a-kind music, he composes for the instrument and organizes workshops to inspire a new generation to uphold its tradition. He released his third album, The Wind of Tsugaru, in January 2017. Joining him for this performance are Hiro Hayashida and Sota Asano (taiko drums), Chihiro Shibayama (percussion), Stephanie Matthews (violin), Reenat Pinchas (cello), and Hsin-Ni Liu (piano).

Shochiku

Oct. 11-17, various times

Tora-san, Our Lovable Tramp (It’s Tough Being a Man)

Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street

$15, $9 members

New 50th anniversary 4K restoration! The longest-running film series starring the same actor (48 features over 27 years), with all but two directed by Yoji Yamada and every one starring Kiyoshi Atsumi as the itinerant, rough around the edges peddler Torajiro Kuruma (nicknamed Tora-san, literally “Mr. Tiger”), a comic figure as iconic in Japan as Chaplin while capable of cutting through pretentious piffle and providing serene counsel to the troubled and the lovelorn—if not always to himself. In his debut appearance, Tora-san hilariously botches the arranged marriage of his kid sister Sakura (Chieko Baisho), but later reverse-psychologizes two timid lovers into a real romance.

Read More
Sep 24

 

 

Posted by Tom Baker

Novelist and former Aomori Prefecture JET Charles Kowalski, the author of the thrillers “Mind Virus” and “The Devil’s Son,” as well as the new middle-grade novel, “Simon Grey and the March of a Hundred Ghosts,” will present a workshop on giving names to fictional characters at this year’s Japan Writers Conference, happening in Tokyo on Oct. 12-13. Here’s a description of his presentation:

What’s In A Name? Tips and traps in character naming
Craft workshop

Remember the journey into Mordor by the heroic Bingo Baggins? (Of course not, and aren’t you glad?) The naming of characters is a difficult matter, but we will discuss the three main considerations (sound, meaning, and associations) and their applications to genres ranging from contemporary fiction to SF and fantasy, along with pitfalls to avoid.

Charles Kowalski’s debut thriller, MIND VIRUS, won the Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ Colorado Gold Award, and was a finalist for the Killer Nashville Claymore Award and the Adventure Writers’ Grandmaster Award. His first middle-grade novel, SIMON GREY AND THE MARCH OF A HUNDRED GHOSTS, was just released by Excalibur Books.

For more information, visit charleskowalski.com or japanwritersconference.org.


Sep 21

 

Posted by Tom Baker

Kanazawa JET Michael Frazier is set to lead a poetry workshop at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description:

Haibun, Tanka, Pecha Kucha—Contemporary English-Language Poets & Japanese Forms
Craft Workshop

This workshop focuses on the influences of unsung Japanese poetic forms on contemporary English language poetry and spoken word. We’ll watch and read haibun, pecha kucha, and tanka. We’ll discuss the forms and write our own poems using one of the forms. This generative workshop is open to writers of all genres.
In particular, we will look at less common forms (haibun & tanka) and newly-invented forms (Origami & Pecha Kucha). The Pecha Kucha, based on a Japanese business presentation style, was pioneered as a poetic form by American poet Terrance Hayes. It is this type of ingenuity this workshop is to focused on. In this workshop we will look at poems by writers of color who practice “re-approaching” by using Japanese forms like Aziza Barnes, Sonia Sanchez, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Amiri Baraka, and Terrance Hayes. We will discuss the content of their poems, why they used the form, and how they reinvented. Participants will be asked to choose a form and write something new in the workshop.

Michael Frazier graduated from NYU, where he was the 2017 Poet Commencement Speaker & College Union Poetry Slam Invitational Co-Champion. He has performed at venues such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, & Gallatin Arts Festival. His poems appear in The Visual Poetry Project, Day One, The Speakeasy Project, & others. Catch him reading poems for The Adroit Journal & teaching SHS in Kanazawa.


Sep 15

 

Posted by Tom Baker

A trio of current JETs – Micah Tasaka, Yoshika Wason, and Michael Frazier – will be among nearly 50 published writers making presentations at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description of what they’ll do:

Beyond Borders: Creating Connective Writing Communities
Reading, Panel, and Q&A

In this presentation, we will discuss how to build international writing communities, utilize internet resources, and create publishing opportunities for one another. Ultimately, we want to explore the connective power of writing communities in our home countries and abroad while focusing on creating mutual support and legitimacy for other writers.
While publishing is often thought of as written work being “accepted” by a publisher, we would like to question what publishing means and focus on how to build international communities that support and create opportunities for one another. Through this discussion, we seek to dismantle the scarcity complex that often surrounds publishing and find new ways to get our work in front of audiences by means of collaboration and community support while utilizing internet resources to extend our reach to a global scale. With backgrounds in both written and performance art, we would like to redefine publishing to be more inclusive and community based. By establishing communities that are willing to hear and experience one another’s work, can we create space for more writers to be legitimized? In doing so, how can we ensure that those who exist in the margins are also heard from and not just established writers?

Micah Tasaka is a queer mixed Japanese poet and spoken word artist from the Inland Empire, California, residing in Fukui prefecture, Japan. They received their undergraduate degree in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside. Micah is a community organizer and has taught workshops on publishing manuscripts, poetry performance skills, and using poetry as healing for trauma survivors. Their first full length manuscript, Expansions, was released on Jamii Publishing in 2017, and their work has appeared in In the Words of Women, Name and None, and Nikkei Uncovered among others.
www.micahtasaka.com

Yoshika Wason is a teacher and writer. She earned her BA from Boston College, where she was Editor in Chief of ASIAM, an Asian Pacific Islander American literary magazine. She is continuing her work in the API community through her current role as Co President of the Asian Pacific Islander Association for Japan Exchange and Teaching (API AJET.) Yoshika is working on her first full length poetry manuscript currently titled Second Chances for Fallen Blessed Children and also has a self published micro chapbook called Extra Bold. She currently writes a monthly education column
called Today’s Lesson and has been published in Ghost City Review, Rice Paper Magazine, The Paper Napkin, and elsewhere. Learn more at
www.yoshikawason.com

Michael Frazier graduated from NYU, where he was the 2017 Poet Commencement Speaker & College Union Poetry Slam Invitational Co-Champion. He has performed at venues such as Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, & Gallatin Arts Festival. His poems appear in The Visual Poetry Project, Day One, The Speakeasy Project, & others. Catch him reading poems for The Adroit Journal & teaching SHS in Kanazawa.

For more information about this year’s Japan Writers Conference, visit www.japanwritersconference.org.


Sep 11

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Babymetal, ‘Promare,’ Joe Hisaishi

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 the summer winds fade into fall colors, the weeks ahead are shaping up with these exciting events, ready to be enjoyed after Labor Day.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Babymetal

Sunday, Sept. 15, 8:00 p.m.

Babymetal + Avatar 

Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street

$59.50

First NYC appearance in three and a half years! Su-metal and Moametal are a genre-smashing duo of teenage girls who perform a fusion of metal and idol music dubbed kawaii (cute) metal. After playing to a capacity crowds at Hammerstein Ballroom in 2014 and PlayStation Theater in 2016, the group returns to support its long-awaited third album Metal Galaxy, coming in October. After opening for bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2017, Babymetal is one of the biggest (and widely known abroad) Japanese musical acts today. Featuring support from Swedish metal group Avatar, promoting their recent release The King Live in Paris.

Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.

Monday, Sept. 16, 8:00 p.m.

Man with a Mission

Gramercy Theatre, 127 East 23rd Street

$27.50

Returning to North America for the first time in five years, Man with a Mission are one of the most important and loved rock bands in Asia today, having collaborated with artists ranging from Patrick Stump to milet. Their newest single “Dark Crow” has been selected as the theme song for the second season of NHK’s TV anime series Vinland Saga, and the tour supports the release of their most recent album, Chasing the Horizon. The album is the wolf collective’s fifth in their native Japan but their first brand new album to be released worldwide and has received widespread critical acclaim.

GKIDS

Sept. 17 & 19, 7:00 p.m.

Promare

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

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC 34th Street 14, 312 West 34th Street

$12.50

The first feature-length film from the acclaimed Studio TRIGGER, creators of the hit series KILL la KILL and Little Witch Academia, and director Hiroyuki Imaishi (GURREN LAGANN, KILL la KILL), Promare uses a bold cel-shaded visual style to tell a blistering action-adventure story, and is the spiritual successor to many of director Imaishi’s former works. Thirty years has passed since the appearance of Burnish, a race of flame-wielding mutant beings, who destroyed half of the world with fire. When a new group of aggressive mutants calling themselves “Mad Burnish” appears, the epic battle between Galo Thymos, a new member of the anti-Burnish rescue team “Burning Rescue,” and Lio Fotia, the leader of “Mad Burnish” begins. The Sept. 17 screening is presented in English. The Sept. 19 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Read More


Aug 29

Posted by Tom Baker.

JET alum Jennifer Hammer will be among nearly 50 published writers making presentations at this year’s Japan Writers Conference (Oct. 12-13 in Tokyo). Here’s the official description of her talk:

“NaNoWriMo: What Are These Syllables and Why Do Writers Care?”

This lecture will focus on what exactly NaNoWriMo is, the pros and cons of writing 50,000 words in thirty days, and how writers can benefit from this online (and real life) community during the official November event, in April and July for “Camp NaNo,” and with writers of varying levels from around the world. Why should a writer care about these four syllables? Because NaNo is a great resource for writers, can be adapted to schools (and/or clubs), and is a way to make friends for life (as well as connect with the 5AM writing club, whichever time zone you’re in).

Jennifer Hammer is the Tokyo Municipal Leader (ML) for NaNoWriMo and a four-year NaNo winner. She writes whatever pretty idea catches her attention, all the way from super hero romance (White Knight) to creepy-crawly horror (JA Hammer) to fantasy video games (Coffee Quills).

For more details, visit http://www.japanwritersconference.org/


Aug 3

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Liberty City Anime Con, Miyavi, ‘Millennium Actress’

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.

In the dog days of summer, it’s best to escape the heat in a place that’s cozy and cool. For those into Japan-related cultural events, this month offers a diverse selection of film premieres and live music—all in the comfort of indoor air conditioning.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Renireni.com

Aug. 9-11

Liberty City Anime Con

Crowne Plaza Times Square, 1605 Broadway

$40-$60

The best three-day anime convention in New York City returns for its third year and features over 100 events and panels, three days of cosplay, game tournaments and anime screenings, concerts, balls and dances. This year’s special guests include Tyler Walker, Heather Walker, CDawgVA, Brittany Lauda, Matt Shipman and Gigi Edgley, with special performances by Frenchy and the Punk and and Reni Mimura!

Courtesy of Sonyhall.com

Saturday, Aug. 10, 8:00 p.m.

Keiko Matsui with Randy Brecker

Sony Hall, 235 West 46th Street

$35, $75 VIP

Keiko Matsui’s music speaks to the hearts and souls of fans around the world, transcending borders and building bridges among people who share a common appreciation of honest artistry and cultural exchange. Echo, her 28th recording as a leader, melds exquisite compositions with lush harmonies and global rhythms to create timeless musical anthems. Joining her is jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker, who has helped shape the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. His trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.

Micah Joel Photography

Aug. 10-11

PLAY NYC

Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street

$25 single day, $50 full weekend, $100 dev & pro weekend pass

Launched in 2017, PLAY NYC is New York City’s premier game convention for creators and players. The weekend will feature a full pavilion of playable games for all consoles, PC, virtual reality and mobile devices from studios large and small and developers old and new. Games will include indie projects with some larger triple A titles. Get access to some of the biggest games coming later this year and discover many you’ve never even heard of. PLAY NYC celebrates every facet of gaming in a way that only the Big Apple can by uniting players, developers and industry pros at a games event like no other.

Eleven Arts

Aug. 13, 19, 7:00 p.m.

Millennium Actress

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

Experience the gorgeous new restoration of what many believe to be Satoshi Kon’s (Perfect Blue, Paprika) greatest work. When the legendary Ginei Studios shuts down, filmmaker Genya Tachibana and his assistant are tasked with interviewing its reclusive star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who had retired from the spotlight 30 years prior. As she recounts her career, Genya and his crew are literally pulled into her memories where they witness her chance encounter with a mysterious man on the run from the police. Despite never knowing his name or his face, Chiyoko relentlessly pursues that man in a seamless blend of reality and memory that only Satoshi Kon could deliver. Boasting countless awards, including the Grand Prize in the Japan Agency of Cultural Affairs Media Arts Festival (which it shared with Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away), Millennium Actress is a must-see for anime fans of all ages. Includes a post-film conversation with producers Taro Maki and Masao Maruyama as they reflect on making the film and Satoshi Kon’s legacy. The Aug. 13 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. The Aug. 19 screening is presented in English.

Courtesy of Sonyhall.com

Monday, Aug. 19, 8:00 p.m.

Miyavi

Sony Hall, 235 West 46th Street

$35, $69.50 VIP

Known to his fans as the “Samurai Guitarist,” Miyavi is gaining recognition around the world for his unconventional style of playing the guitar—not with a pick, but with his fingers and his “slap style,” which is like no other. Miyavi has six successful world tours under his belt, totaling more than 250 shows in 30 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In recent years, Miyavi gathered attention from other artists and creators in the field. He has also produced music for television commercials, and is receiving a lot of attention from fashion brands. With his acting debut in Unbroken, Miyavi was inspired by the message of peace which he himself has strived for; he has been able to use all his performing abilities this time as an actor who considers his body and soul to be his instrument.

GKIDS

Aug. 25-26, 28, various times

My Neighbor Totoro

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

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a classic tale of magic and adventure for the whole family. When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children. Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece. The Aug. 25 and 28 screenings are presented in English. The Aug. 26 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

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


Jul 29

JQ Magazine: JQ&A with Director Shinya Tsukamoto at JAPAN CUTS

“In the film Killing, I don’t necessarily have one political message that’s strongly pursued, and I want the audience to figure out the film’s message for themselves. Personally speaking, I find it to be incredibly frightening today of what the Japanese government is doing.” (Courtesy of Shinya Tsukamoto)

 

 

By Lyle Sylvander (Yokohama-shi, 2001-02) for JQ magazine. Lyle used to work in New York City for Merchant Ivory Productions and the National Geographic Channel. He currently teaches history, international relations and film at an international high school in Shanghai, China.

Shinya Tsukamoto is a Japanese filmmaker most famous for his Tetsuo trilogy of horror/sci-fi films: Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992), and Tetsuo: the Bullet Man (2009). Other films include Hiruko the Goblin (1991), Bullet Ballet (1998), and Tokyo Fist (1995). He has also acted in most of his own films as well as those of others, most recently in Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016). 

Last week, Tsukamoto made a special appearance at Japan Society in New York City for their annual JAPAN CUTS film festival to receive their prestigious CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film, as well as to speak at the East Coast premiere of his latest film, Killing. In this exclusive interview, JQ spoke with the director about violence and politics in his work, lifelong influences, and the story behind the name of his most enduring creation. (Translation by Aiko Masubuchi.)

You have stated that Killing was made in response to the violence you see today in society. All of your previous films have dealt with violence in one way or another—how is your position towards violence different in this film than in others?

When I was little, and for a long time, of course there were some violent things that happened in Japan, but mostly speaking, the violence was outside Japan and Japan was a country that would try to avoid war. It was that way for a long period of time. So, in my earlier films, the violence I was depicting was more fantastical. But now, times have changed: Japan is turning into a country that is getting ready to go to war, and so I could no longer depict violence through a fantastical lens—I needed to depict violence as something realistic and scary and use it as a warning, and so could no longer depict violence the same way.

Does this mean that your film is in response to the Abe administration’s recent foreign policy and re-militarization of Japan?

In the film, I don’t necessarily have one political message that’s strongly pursued, and I want the audience to figure out the film’s message for themselves. Personally speaking, I find it to be incredibly frightening today of what the Japanese government is doing.

How does your version of Nobi (Fires on the Plain) differ from Kon Ichikawa’s classic version of the same anti-war story?

I am a huge fan of Kon Ichikawa’s film Nobi, and I first saw it when I was in high school. I thought it was a fantastic anti-war statement and incredibly moving. In fact, the films I made as a teenager were greatly influenced by it. What I like about Ichikawa’s film is that he brings the camera into the internal darkness of the characters. Even though the setting of the original story is in the Philippines, Ichikawa’s film was shot in Japan. But what struck me in the original story was the beautiful nature and the landscapes of the Philippines, which contrasted the horror of what the soldiers were doing to each other. To me, it seemed important to have the Philippines’ beautiful nature as a backdrop, so the way we approached the film visually was quite different.

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Jul 18

Justin’s Japan: JAPAN CUTS at Japan Society

Click image to view article

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.

The largest festival of contemporary Japanese cinema in North America, this year’s JAPAN CUTS at Japan Society serves up 42 films from July 19-28, featuring more than 20 guest filmmakers and talent in person for daily post-screening Q&As.

“This 13th edition of JAPAN CUTS provides testament to the continued vitality of contemporary Japanese cinema with a wide array of films by emerging filmmakers who dare to take formal and thematic risks,” says Kazu Watanabe, Japan Society Deputy Director of Film.

“They are paired with a roster of veteran directors who similarly began their career in the spirit of creative innovation and who continue to expand their vision in new directions,” he continues. “Together, they tackle stories about existential ennui, class conflict and social discrimination through a range of filmmaking practices that continually subvert expectations and expand our notion of what Japanese cinema is.”

The Opening Film on July 19 is the U.S. premiere of Can’t Stop the Dancing, an office comedy-road trip-musical directed by Waterboys helmer Shinobu Yaguchi, featuring a breakout performance by star Ayaka Miyoshi. The festival’s Centerpiece Presentation on July 24 is the East Coast premiere of Killing, a subversive samurai drama and meditation on the nature of violence by internationally renowned cult director Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo: The Iron Man), who will be presented with the 2019 CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film prior to the screening. Tsukamoto will also introduce a special 35mm presentation of his 1998 black-and-white classic Bullet Ballet on July 25.

The Closing Film on July 28 is the North American premiere of director Yuko Hakota’s remarkable debut feature Blue Hour, a comedic drama about rural homecoming and reinvention starring festival guests Kaho and Eun-kyung Shim.

For more information and tickets, visit www.japansociety.org/JAPANCUTS.


Jul 2

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Studio Ghibli Fest, JAPAN CUTS

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.

Before and after the outdoor fireworks, enjoy some summer events in the cool indoors, whether it’s taking in one of the dozens of films premiering at Japan Society’s annual festival, or catching a Studio Ghibli classic.

This month’s highlights include:

GKIDS

July 1-2, 7:00 p.m.

Whisper of the Heart

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

Discover the brilliance of this heartwarming coming-of-age classic from the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of My Neighbor Totoro and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away. A chance encounter with a mysterious cat sends Shizuku, a quiet schoolgirl, on a quest for her true talent. Together with Seiji, a boy determined to follow his dreams, and enchanted by The Baron, a magical cat figurine who helps her listen to the whispers of her heart, Shizuku embarks on a life-changing adventure that takes her beyond the boundaries of her imagination. This beautiful tale based on a screenplay from Hayao Miyazaki will delight and amaze audiences of all ages, and features a special introduction by Rebecca Sugar, the creator of the award-winning series Steven Universe. The July 1 screening is presented in English, and the July 2 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

© “Dance with Me” Production Committee

July 19-28

JAPAN CUTS 2019 

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$15, $12 seniors/students & persons with disability, $8 members (per screening)

“This 13th edition of JAPAN CUTS provides testament to the continued vitality of contemporary Japanese cinema with a wide array of films by emerging filmmakers who dare to take formal and thematic risks,” says Kazu Watanabe, Japan Society Deputy Director of Film. The largest festival of contemporary Japanese cinema in North America returns, premiering 26 features and 16 shorts across 10 days, JAPAN CUTS 2019 offers access to the best new films from Japan never-before-seen in NYC. Take a deep dive into one of the world’s most vital film cultures with a diverse slate of studio blockbusters, cutting-edge indies, thought-provoking documentaries, rediscovered classics and avant-garde short works. Plus, appearances by special guest filmmakers and stars (including this year’s CUT ABOVE Award recipient Shinya Tsukamoto), post-screening Q&As, parties, talks, free events, and more!

Sentai Filmworks

Tuesday, July 23, 7:30 p.m.

Is it Wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?: Arrow of the Orion

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

Adapted from the hit manga! Far from the dungeon beneath Oraria rises a new threat, one the beautiful goddess Artemis has sworn to destroy with the help of her chosen warrior. But this fighter isn’t the renowned Ais Wallenstein or another storied hero of Orario legend. Instead the fate of Artemis’ quest falls upon the shoulders of Bell Cranell, who must partner with the goddess and stand against the menace lurking in the remains of a distant, ancient city. Although Bell is the ordained champion of Artemis and a member of the goddess Hestia’s familia, their adventure will test every skill and take every ounce of courage that Bell has—and perhaps, along the way, turn him into the hero he has always aspired to be. Presented in Japanese subtitles, this limited event will also feature never-before-seen interviews with Japanese production staff, JC STAFF studio tour, art gallery, and franchise retrospective.

GKIDS

July 28-29, July 31

Kiki’s Delivery Service: 30th 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

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of this beloved coming-of-age story from the legendary Studio Ghibli and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki! Kiki is a resourceful young witch who uses her broom to create a delivery service, only to lose her gift of flight in a moment of self-doubt. It is a tradition for all young witches to leave their families on the night of a full moon and fly off into the wide world to learn their craft. When that night comes for Kiki, she embarks on her new journey with her sarcastic black cat, Jiji, landing the next morning in a seaside village, where her unique skills make her an instant sensation. Don’t miss this delightfully imaginative and timeless story of a young girl finding her way in the world. The July 28 and 31 screenings are presented in English, and the July 29 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

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


Jun 10

JQ Magazine: From Enkais to International Sake Judge: My Wonderful World of Nihonshu

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 31

WIT Life #336: June Japanese movie round-up

 

Written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03), WIT Life is a periodic series about aspects of Japanese culture such as film, food and language. Stacy starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

The weather is getting warmer by the day, and soon we’ll be seeking air-conditioned movie theaters to escape the heat.  Here are some Japan-related films in June that you might want to check out to stay cool and entertained!

Earlier this month I enjoyed Metrograph’s Ryusuke Hamaguchi series.  I was able to finally catch Asako I & II (寝ても覚めても), after having the chance to interpret for Hamaguchi several years ago when his epic Happy Hour (ハッピーアワー) came to MoMA.  This month the theater will feature Kon Ichikawa’s Alone Across the Pacific, based on the eponymous non-fiction book about the first successful transpacific solo sea voyage from Nishinomiya, Japan to San Francisco, California.

If short films are more your thing, don’t miss Asia Society’s New York Japan CineFest next week.  This two-night program features a diverse lineup of shorts, as well as Read More


May 17

2019 Japan Writers Conference wants you!

 

Posted by Tom Baker


Meiji Gakuin University, this year’s Japan Writers Conference Venue

The 13th annual Japan Writer’s Conference will be held on the weekend of Oct. 12-13 at Meiji Gakuin University in Tokyo. The organizers are now seeking writers to give presentations. If you would like to participate, contact details appear at the bottom of this post.

Each year, the Japan Writers Conference attracts English-language writers in a variety of genres and fields to share ideas on the art, craft and business of writing. And each year, a significant number of past and present JETs take part.

JET alum Tom Baker talks about book reviewing at last year’s conference.

At last year’s conference, for example, Holly Thompson spoke about the picture-book market, Suzanne Kamata introduced “The Best Asian Short Stories” anthology, and Tom Baker gave a nuts-and-bolts talk on book reviewing. JET presenters in previous years have included journalist Elaine Lies, textbook author Todd Jay Leonard, travel writer Victoria Vlisides, and novelists Benjamin Martin and Percival Constantine.

Run entirely by volunteers, the Japan Writers Conference is a free event open to all. Details on this year’s event can be found at japanwritersconference.org.

Writers interested in making a presentation at the 2019 conference should first read the “Call for Proposals” and then contact co-coordinators John Gribble at gribblej@gol.com and Karen McGee at karenandcheyenne@hotmail.com. The deadline for presentation proposals is June 1.


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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