Nov 30

 

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.

Last week I had the opportunity to see some amazing works from legendary avant garde Japanese poet, dramatist, writer, film director, and photographer Shuji Terayama. I hadn’t heard of him before, but many critics view him as one of the most productive and provocative creative artists to come out of Japan. He has also been cited as an influence on various Japanese filmmakers from the 1970s onward. The three films screened were Americans, who are you (アメリカ人あなたは), Laura (ローラ) and The Trial (審判).

A special treat was that Laura included the restaging of Terayama’s 1974 film performance with the original actor, Henrikku Morisaki, who was in attendance. This short film feature female strippers who are berating the audience, when all of a sudden a spectator (Morisaki) enters the film. We saw scenes of him as a young man in this role, being stripped and assaulted by the women. At the end of the film he emerged from behind the screen, this time naked and holding his torn clothes. In an interview post-screening, Morisaki told stories about his work with Terayama over the course of almost 17 years. He described Read More


Nov 3

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:

Asahi Shimbun/Getty Images

Now through Dec. 16

Yayoi Kusama: Festival of Life and Infinity Nets

David Zwirner Galleries, 525 and 533 West 19th Street and 34 East 69th Street

Free

Yayoi Kusama’s work has transcended some of the most important art movements of the second half of the twentieth century, including Pop Art and Minimalism. The exhibitions will feature sixty-six paintings from her iconic My Eternal Soul series, new large-scale flower sculptures, a polka-dotted environment, and two Infinity Mirror Rooms in the Chelsea locations, and a selection of new Infinity Nets paintings uptown. The celebrated Infinity Mirror Rooms invite the viewer to experience a sense of infinity through the play of reflections between the circular shapes of light and the surrounding mirrors. The Infinity Net paintings on view at the gallery’s uptown location are the latest works in a series begun in New York in the 1950s, when Abstract Expressionism was still the dominant style. These canvases embodied a radical departure, featuring minutely painted nets across monochrome backgrounds.

Rikyu-Enoura © Odawara Art Foundation

Nov. 3-5

Rikyu-Enoura

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$95, $75 Japan Society members, seniors and students (Nov. 4-5 only)

Part of Japan Society’s NOH-NOW series, celebrating its 110th anniversary! Hiroshi Sugimoto, acclaimed visual artist and traditional Japanese arts connoisseur, offers his most recent noh piece. In this new play, the ghost of revered 16th century tea master Sen-no-Rikyu appears to tell the story of his tragic death by forced suicide. Opening a door onto medieval Japan, the program begins with a tea ceremony by Sen So’oku, direct descendent of Sen-no-Rikyu, and features Japan’s top noh actors and musicians. Performed in Japanese with English titles.

Courtesy of Chopsticksny.com

Nov. 16-Dec. 3

Rakugo: Katsura Sunshine

SoHo Playhouse, 15 Vandam Street

$30

Universally funny and yet so very Japanese. Katsura Sunshine makes his highly-anticipated off-Broadway debut! As the world’s first bilingual rakugo-ka (a traditional Japanese comic storyteller), he is an international ambassador of this 400-year tradition. Fresh off 10 smash-hit performances in London’s West End, he will have a series of performances bringing his unique yet authentic rakugo to Off Broadway—in Japanese and English!

Crunchyroll – 2017

Nov. 17-19

Anime NYC

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street

$35-$60; VIP passes also available

“Anime and manga have taken the world by storm. While New York City is the largest city in America, no focused event championing Japanese pop culture calls it home and with a population of eight million there’s a massive demand here,” says Peter Tatara, LeftField Media’s vice president of anime events. “Anime NYC will be a celebration of this community of fans and a platform for publishers and studios from both sides of the Pacific to be in front of the eyes of attendees, trendsetters, and people who aren’t yet familiar with the worlds of anime and manga. We’re looking forward to a vibrant, dedicated celebration of everything in Japan that’s nerdy and cool, in the media capital of the world!”

In this inaugural three-day celebration of Japanese animation powered by Crunchyroll, attendees will be able to view exclusive anime screenings and meet major guests courtesy of international animation and manga publishers; play the latest in Japanese gaming technology; chow down on Japanese delicacies and fusion cuisine; rock out to musical guests direct from Tokyo; and more! An estimated 20,000 fans are expected to attend, with special guests featuring the English-language cast of Sailor Moon Crystal for a panel screening; the U.S. premieres of the films Gundam Thunderbolt: Bandit Flower and Fullmetal Alchemist, and the NY Ramen Summit, featuring a discussion between famed ramen chefs from around the city.

Read More


Oct 18

Justin’s Japan: Manga! Manga! at New York Comic Con

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.

New York Comic Con returned to the Jacob Javits Center October 5-8, selling a record-breaking 200,000 tickets (an 11% increase from last year) and featuring appearances from some of the contemporary manga world’s most renowned creators, including guest artists Akira Himekawa (The Legend of Zelda) and Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail).

“New York Comic Con is always a great place to meet fans in person and talk about what titles they enjoy most,” said Tomo Tran, marketing director for New York-based Vertical, Inc., which publishes Japanese comics and novels in English. “We aim to bring titles that are not just mainstream in Japan, but that we feel can be impactful here in the U.S.”

Some of Vertical’s new fare was unveiled at a special panel, introducing the series Pop Team Epic, a comic-strip style parody of manga and pop culture, and the slapstick comedy The Delinquent Housewife!, both coming next year. In addition, Kodansha Comics celebrated its storied sci-fi library with a Q&A of the creators of a forthcoming Ghost in the Shell graphic novel, a new deluxe reissue of Battle Angel Alita, and a 35th anniversary boxed set of the classic “Akira,” which began life in print years before its release as a massively influential anime film.

As for memorable moments? “A female fan approached me and asked about volume seven of a backlisted title, Twin Spica, that we no longer printed,” Tran said. “I told her I would follow up about it, and fortunately we had a few copies at the office. When I gave her the copy at the con the next day, she was so happy with tears in her eyes, since this was one of her favorite series.”

Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment since 2005. For more of his stories, visit http://jetaany.org/magazine.


Oct 17

Event: Transitions-Opportunities Forum & Networking Expo – Pacific Northwest JET Alumni Association (Kirkland, WA, USA)

Posted by Sydney Sparrow. Click here to join the JETwit Jobs Google Group and receive job listings even sooner by email.


Event: Transitions: Opportunities Forum & Networking Expo
Organized by: Pacific Northwest JET Alumni Association (PNWJETAA)
Location: Kirkland, WA, USA
Time and Date: Saturday, October 21, 2017 (9:00 AM – 4:30 PM)

Thanks to PNWJETAA for the passing along this event:

Please join us for Transitions: Opportunities Forum & Networking Expo is the annual career and networking event organized by the Pacific Northwest JET Alumni Association (PNWJETAA), co-sponsored by Northwest University and The Council of Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR) and generous support from the Sasakawa Peace Foundation USA and USJETAA.

Originally aimed at recently returned or relocated JET Program participants, Transitions has since evolved into a more comprehensive event, seeking to meet the ever-changing needs of our community, who may not only be seeking employment but are also interested in new opportunities to advance their skills through continued education and greater community involvement.  Whether you are a new returnee or you’ve been back for a few years, it’s our goal to help you explore your options and plan your next steps, regardless of the path you choose to pursue! Read More


Oct 9

JET Prefecture Round up! 10.09.17

By Suzanne Bhagan (Tottori-ken, 2014-2015)

Suzanne is a freelance writer originally from Trinidad and Tobago. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or on her blog.

Hey, everyone! There’s another national holiday this week (Health and Sports Day) so who’s ready for some hiking, kiritanpo, kayaking, parades, beef, and screaming? Read on to find out more!

 

rice stick

Kiritanpo, an Akita specialty

Kiritanpo Festival

When: 7-9 October

Where: Odate, Akita Prefecture

Enjoy live performances and kiritanpo (rice grilled stick and specialty of Akita prefecture) at this unique festival.

 

29th Yufuin Eat Beef and Scream Tournament

When: 9 October

Where: Yufuin, Oita Prefecture

I scream, you scream, we all scream for beef (literally)! Head to Mount Yufu for this unusual event that combines beef eating and screaming into a stratovolcano.

contest

Yufuin Eat Beef and Scream Tournament

 

Jumangoku Festival

When: 9 October

Where: Ogaki, Gifu Prefecture

Help carry the mikoshi and be part of one of Ogaki’s biggest events for the year!

 

yokai

Yokai parade

Yokai Parade

When: 14 October

Where: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

Celebrate Halloween early by hitting the street with Kyoto’s very own yokai parade.

 

Biwa Kayaking 2017

When: 14 October

Where: Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture

Pack a bento and come kayak Japan’s largest freshwater lake with a professional instructor!

 

mountain

Mount Miune

Mt Miune Hike

When: 15 October

Where: Miyoshi, Tokushima Prefecture

Strap on those hiking boots to climb Shikoku’s third tallest peak.

 

 

 


Oct 5

JQ Magazine: New York Comic Con, ‘Porco Rosso,’ ‘The Legend of Zelda,’ Food Porn Party

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:

Volume 1—FAIRY TAIL © Hiro MASHIMA / Kodansha Ltd.; Hiro Mashima—Photo courtesy of Kodansha Ltd.; Volume 61—FAIRY TAIL © Hiro MASHIMA / Kodansha Ltd.

Thursday, Oct. 5, 6:30 p.m.

Hiro Mashima: The Magical World of Fairy Tail

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$30, $25 Japan Society members, seniors and students

Award-winning manga artist Hiro Mashima, known for his bestselling series Fairy Tail, comes to Japan Society for a special talk in conjunction with New York Comic Con. The epic fantasy series, which has sold over 60 million copies worldwide, follows the rambunctious wizard’s guild Fairy Tail through adventures in a stunning variety of settings, with a mind-boggling array of colorful characters. Mashima, also renowned for his long-running series Rave Master, joins us to discuss the works that have captured the imaginations of fans around the world. Moderated by Ben Applegate, director of the Kodansha Comics publishing team at Penguin Random House, and interpreted by Misaki Kido, marketing director at Kodansha Advanced Media. One lucky guest will win a surprise gift from Mashima-sensei at the event! Followed by a reception.

Courtesy of MediaLab PR

Oct. 5-8

New York Comic Con

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street

Limited tickets available

With a record attendance of more than 170,000 visitors last year, the East Coast’s biggest gathering for fans of comics, film, anime and manga, New York Comic Con returns with its biggest roster of Hollywood talent to date, and features exclusive screenings, gaming, cosplay photo ops, interactive booths by manga publishers including Vertical Comics and Kodansha Comics , and special guest appearances by manga artists Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail) and Akira Himekawa (The Legend of Zelda)!

Porco Rosso © 1992 Studio Ghibli—NN

Friday, Oct. 6, 7:00 p.m.

Porco Rosso

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$13, $10 seniors and students, $5 Japan Society members

Screening in 35mm! An ace fighter pilot and ex-member of the Italian Air Force during WWI is mysteriously cursed with a pig’s face. Disillusioned with humanity, he adopts the name Porco Rosso (“Crimson Pig”) and spends his time near the Adriatic Sea, drinking at a local bar and fighting off air pirates for cash. Famous for his unsurpassable flying skills, Porco draws the envy and antagonism of an American pilot who plots to take him down with the help of the fascist Italian police. This sixth film by Hayao Miyazaki is among the master animator’s most personal and underrated, highlighting his deep love for aviation and pacifist worldview within an action-adventure story perfect for adults and children alike.

Dogwoof Ltd.

Premieres Friday, Oct. 13

The Departure

Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street

$15

In her new documentary, Lana Wilson (After Tiller) takes us deep inside the life of another extreme altruist, Ittetsu Nemoto, a punk-rocker-turned-Buddhist priest who has worked small miracles in suicide prevention in his native Japan. Now facing the new challenge of fatherhood, as well as rapidly escalating health problems of his own, Nemoto must answer a crucial question—can he justify risking his own life to help others carry on with theirs? With astonishing access and artistry, The Departure captures one man’s wrenching decision between self-preservation and selflessness. Select screenings on Oct. 13 and 14 feature a special Q&A with the director.

© Terry Lin

Oct. 13-14, 7:30 p.m.

Left-Right-Left

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$35, $30 Japan Society members

Aesthetics of the past, present, East and West meld together in Italian director/choreographer Luca Veggetti’s LeftRightLeft, which explores the point of intersection between Japan’s 14th-century noh tradition and today’s efforts in dance. With leading Japanese butoh and contemporary dancers, esteemed noh musicians and a child noh actor reciting text from noh plays Okina and Hagoromo, this production offers a lens into the microcosm of humanity. Performed in English. The Oct. 13 performance is followed by a MetLife MeettheArtists Reception. The Oct. 14 performance is followed by an artist Q&A.

© Maiko Miyagawa

Oct. 13-14, 8:00 p.m.

Kazunori Kumagai: HEAR/HERE

92nd Street Y (Buttenwieser Hall), 1395 Lexington Avenue

$15-$29

Tap dancer Kazu Kumagai, known for his “powerful athletic technique combined with a riveting clarity” (2016 Bessie Outstanding Performer Award) channels his exceptional rhythmic artistry into the intensity of HEAR/HERE. The program includes a live jazz quartet and guest tappers, including legends Ted Louis Levy and Brenda Bufalino (2016 Bessie Award for Lifetime Achievement). This Dig Dance show is Kazu’s return to 92Y after a sell-out performance last season.

Courtesy of Nipponclub.org

Wednesday, Oct. 18, 7:00 p.m.

Hana-akari Orchestra

The Nippon Club, 145 West 57th Street

$250, $200 members

A one-of-a-kind cultural experience! See Japanese Ozashiki culture in person with Geisha (Geiko and Maiko) from Nara, Japan. They will entertain visitors with their arts such as music, dance, conversations and traditional games while you enjoy Japanese food and sake. For RSVP and more info, call (212) 581-2223, or email info@nipponclub.org, attn: Mita, Uchikawa.

Andrew Craig

Friday, Oct. 20, 8:00 p.m.

The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses

United Palace Theater, 4140 Broadway  

$28.13-$120

Back by popular demand and presented by Jason Michael Paul Productions, The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses returns to New York with breathtakingly new visuals and music exploring additional chapters from the Zelda franchise as well as the beautifully orchestrated two-act symphony recounting the classic storylines from some of the most popular video games in history. Take up your wooden sword and shield as a live orchestra and the Montclair State University Vocal Accord brings to life the masterpieces of legendary Nintendo composer and sound director Koji Kondo.

Hiroshi Sugimoto (b. 1948), Teatro Olimpico, Vicenza, 2015. Gelatin silver print

Oct. 20-Nov. 17 (first rotation); Nov. 21-Jan. 7 (second rotation)

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Gates of Paradise

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

Single visit: $12/$10 students and seniors; both rotations: $20/$16 students and seniors;
free for Japan Society members; free admission on Fridays from 6:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m

This fall, explore one of the earliest, and largely unknown, encounters between Japan and the West in the 16th century, as seen through the eyes of artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. In celebration of Japan Society’s 110th anniversary, Hiroshi Sugimoto: Gates of Paradise charts the story of four Japanese boys, who were swept up in the tide of religion, commerce and politics during the first Global Age and sent to the princely and papal courts of Europe. Journey in their footsteps through Sugimoto’s new monumental photographs of the sites they visited, and navigate the germination of cultural exchange between East and West with classical masterpieces of visually hybrid (nanban) art from Japanese and American collections. Join guests for the Escape East @333 happy hours on Oct. 20 and Nov. 10 at 6:00 p.m.

Courtesy of USA.kinokuniya.com

Saturday, Oct. 21, 2:00 p.m.

Tatsuya Miyanishi: Tyrannosaurus series

Kinokuniya New York

1073 Sixth Avenue

Acclaimed Japanese children’s author and illustrator Tatsuya Miyanishi will visit the U.S. for the first time this month! His Tyrannosaurus series consists of 12 titles and has sold more than 3 million copies in Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, and France. There are four titles available in English so far from Museyon. Bring your kids to a nearby Kinokuniya Book Store (other cities including Edgewater, NJ are listed in the photo here) between October 21st and 29th for a presentation and book signing! Miyanishi is an entertaining presenter who will draw, read from his books, and discuss his work. A book signing will follow each presentation.

Janus Films

Saturday, Oct. 21, 7:00 p.m.

The Food Porn Party featuring Tampopo

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

$95, $125 VIP (use codeRESOBOXfor 10% off tickets)

Taste what you see on the screen! The Food Film Festival specializes in creating multisensory food and film experiences. At their events, guests watch films about food and simultaneously taste the exact dishes they see on the screen…right in their seats! Hosting their “Food Porn” Party featuring the cult classic film, Tampopo. Following the film, they are inviting everyone to join their Japanese Noodle Fest! Directed by Jûzô Itami, the tale of an enigmatic band of ramen ronin who guide the widow of a noodle shop owner on her quest for the perfect recipe, Tampopo serves up a savory broth of culinary adventure seasoned with offbeat comedy sketches and the erotic exploits of a gastronome gangster. Sweet, sexy, surreal, and mouthwatering, Tampopo remains one of the most delectable examples of food on film. Following the movie, there will be a Japanese noodle feast featuring ramen and more ramen, decadent dishes, cocktails, craft beer and more! Additional Food Film Festival events include James Beard: America’s First Foodie (Oct. 19), Hometown Heros: The Legend of the Chopped Cheese (Oct. 20), and For the Love of Brunch (Oct. 22). For a complete listing, click here.

Courtesy of Eventbrite.com

Friday, Oct. 27, 11:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

Eat Up! Drink Up! Japan

NYC Event Spaces, 4 West 43rd Street

$35-$75

Chopsticks NY magazine presents its very first Sake and Food event, “Eat Up! Drink Up! Japan” on Oct. 27. During the event, we will divide Japan into six regional blocks and offer craft sake from each block and matching food made with the regional delicacies. Participants can appreciate sake from nationwide Japan and feel the sense of “terroir” in Japan. 18 dishes from nationwide, 3 from each block, will be served during the event. Every dish is crafted to be paired with regional sake. There will be at least one vegetarian dish in each block. Over 30 brands of sake, at least five brands for each region, will be served along with the dishes above. This event is 21 and over.

Courtesy of Symphonyspace.org

Saturday, Oct. 28, 6:30 p.m.

Ages of Enchantment: JPA Cultural Repertoires 2017

Symphony Space (Peter Jay Sharp Theater), 2537 Broadway

$30; $25 members; $18 seniors, students and children; $40 day of show

JPA returns for its first show in two years! This year’s performance consists of three categories: 1) Kimono show, 2) traditional Japanese dances, and 3) Japanese folk performing arts (from three regions). During the kimono show, five major kimono types will be shown with different craftsmanship with live models. The details of handcrafted fabric weaving, coloring, and decorating techniques will be explained, so when the audiences actually see the real kimono display, it can promote better learning experiences. After the kimono show, five pieces of traditional Japanese dance will be shown as the second section. The first piece is titled as the “Duet,” which is a rare parallel performance of Japanese traditional dance and Western ballet. The piece will display the differences between the two dance movements and the body uses by the dancers, so the audiences will be able to see the unique characteristics of Japanese dance much easier. The body use will be explained in the context of the cultural characteristics as well.

© Studio Ghibli – NDDTM

Oct. 29-Nov. 1

Spirited Away

Various locations

$12.50-$13.50

Hayao Miyazaki’s Academy Award-winning masterpiece Spirited Away was the biggest box office hit of all time in Japan and helped redefine the possibilities of animation for American audiences and a generation of new filmmakers. Chihiro thinks she is on another boring trip with her parents. But when they stop at a village that is not all that it seems, her parents undergo a mysterious transformation, and Chihiro is whisked into a world of fantastic spirits, shape-shifting dragons and a witch who never wants to see her leave. She must call on the courage she never knew she had to free herself and return her family to the outside world.

Combining Japanese mythology with Alice in Wonderland-type whimsy, Spirited Away cemented Miyazaki’s reputation as an icon of animation and storytelling. The English-dubbed cast includes the vocal talents of Daveigh Chase, Jason Marsden, Suzanne Pleshette, David Ogden Stiers, Susan Egan, Tara Strong and more! Dubbed in English on Oct. 29 and November 1 and subtitled on Oct. 30, this special threeday event will also feature GKIDS MiniFest, an ongoing festival of the best animated shorts from around the world.

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


Oct 2

JET Prefecture Round up! 10.02.17

By Suzanne Bhagan (Tottori Prefecture, 2014-2015)

Suzanne is a freelance writer originally from Trinidad and Tobago. You can connect with her on LinkedIn or on her blog.

Put away that cool biz. October is here! Before you snuggle under that kotatsu, here are some events to get you nice and toasty!

festival

Otsu Matsuri

2017 Otsu Festival

When: 8 October

Where: Otsu, Shiga Prefecture

Get ready to work it. Shiga AJET invites volunteers to flex those muscles to pull festival floats at the famous Otsu Matsuri.

Block 6 PicnicKai 2.0

When: 7 October

Where: Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture

This fall, Block 6 kicks off their welcome undoukai/picnic in the park for all Block 6 JETs, new and old.

riverboat

Cruising in Hita

Hita Riverboat Dinner

When: 8 October

Where: Hita, Oita Prefecture

Oita AJET welcomes all JETs and friends to hop on a pleasure boat, drink, eat, and relax on Hita’s Mikuma river.

Hyogo AJET Rafting

When: 7 October

Where: Nagaoka, Kochi Prefecture

It’s time for HAJET’s annual rafting trip down south. Grab a paddle pronto!

 

 

 


Sep 23

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels’

“Takahashi’s warm watercolors and relatable stories are guaranteed to entertain readers of all ages, and the latest English-language addition to this series, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels, is every bit as enjoyable as its two predecessors.” (Museyon)

By Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) for JQ magazine. Stacy is a New York Citybased provider of top quality Japanese interpretingtranslating and writing/editing servicesStarting from her initial encounter with Japan in her teensshe has built up a consummate understanding of the countrys language and culture, enabling her to seamlessly traverse between Japan and the U.S. and serve as a bridge between the two. For more information, visit www.stacysmith.webs.com. As a writer, Stacy also shares tidbits and trends with her own observations in the periodic series WIT Life.

Having spent three years on JET in Kumamoto, home of nationwide sensation Kumamon who didn’t yet exist when I was there, I must honestly say that I approach bear characters with slight trepidation. However, I was delightfully surprised to love every minute of my encounter with Kuma-Kuma Chan, the bear who stars in the eponymous children’s book series written and illustrated by Kazue Takahashi. Her warm watercolors and relatable stories are guaranteed to entertain readers of all ages, and the latest English-language addition to this series, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels, is every bit as enjoyable as its two predecessors.

The previous two books, Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear (previously reviewed in JQ here) and Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Home, looked at a day in the life of Kuma-Kuma Chan on his own and when a friend comes to visit. KumaKuma Chans Travels is a bit more expansive, introducing readers to his world when he takes trips. I love the details at the beginning sharing what he brings with him on his journeys, along with accompanying illustrations such as a Thermos containing hot coffee. We later see him on top of a mountain drinking said coffee while watching the sunrise. These trips take place inside his head, but the descriptive text and beautiful pictures make you feel like you are with him everywhere he goes.

The series as a whole features a strong element of kawaii, or cuteness, which contributes to its Japaneseness. Also, there is an intangible sensibility to the stories that make them feel a bit different than traditional Western children’s books. In the inaugural KumaKuma Chan, the Little Bear, we learn about his daily routine, which includes aspects such as eating a big salad for breakfast with lettuce from his garden and personal grooming like trimming his nails and hair. I particularly liked the scene which shows him during the winter, rolling around to catch the sunlight as the day progresses with the kerosene heater nearby. For many JET alumni, I’m sure this scene will be reminiscent of days spent in school offices where this was the sole source of heat.

Courtesy of Museyon

For readers seeking a creature of a different nature, the Tyrannosaurus children’s books written and illustrated by Tatsuya Miyanishi is another series worth checking out. It currently features 13 titles, four of which have been published in the U.S. For those who would like to learn about these books and meet the acclaimed author, he will be at the New York and New Jersey locations of Books Kinokuniya at 2 p.m. on October 21 and 22, respectively. On both days, Miyanishi will be reading from and discussing his works, as well as signing books for those with purchased copies. For more dates in Texas, Washington and California, click here.

Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels is available October 1. For more information, click here.

For more JQ magazine book reviews, click here.


Sep 6

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Collision: Brooklyn, ‘Four Nights of Dream,’ The Joy of Sake

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 Nipponclub.org

Friday, Sept. 8, 6:45 p.m.

Sake Social 2017

The Nippon Club, 145 West 57th Street

$70, $60 members

The Nippon Club will present “Sake Social 2017″, featuring a sake tasting with 14 different “Kuramoto” (sake brewers) from Japan, on 9/8 (Fri). From Fukui to Yamaguchi, each Kuramoto will bring 2 types of Sake to the event, so you can enjoy 28 types of Sake and Chef Yasuoka’s tasty appetizers. For RSVP and more info, call Mita-san at (212) 581-2223 or email info@nipponclub.org.

Courtesy of Residentadvisor.net

Friday, Sept. 8, 8:00 p.m.

Collision: Brooklyn

Lot 45, 411 Troutman Street (Brooklyn)

$20 advance, $30 at the door

Collision is a cross-cultural event that aims to expose Japan’s underground music and culture to cities across the globe by curating lineups of Japanese and local artists (seven acts in all). With the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics on the horizon, organizers hope to introduce Japan’s unique subcultures to the millennials of the U.S. and contribute to the attraction and brand of the country, while supporting local creatives and businesses.

Illustration by Ben Warren and David O’Nyon, copyright Japan Society

Sept. 13, 15-16, 7:30 p.m.

Four Nights of Dream

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$55, $45 Japan Society members

A frustrated samurai. An unwieldy herd of pigs. A mysterious murder. A woman’s dying wish. Four surreal stories from Japanese author Natsume Soseki’s (1867-1916) Ten Nights of Dream come to life in Four Nights of Dream (2008), a contemporary chamber opera that traverses the subconscious through colorful melodies and piercing emotions. For this new production, New York vocalists and Tokyo instrumentalists come together to perform within a spellbinding and ever-morphing set. Performed in English.

Read More


Sep 6

Justin’s Japan: LUCKYRICE and 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.

Autumn in New York is the season for delectable dishes, and this month has two unmissable events on the calendar.

First comes the annual LUCKYRICE New York Feast at Mandarin Oriental on September 22. Founded by Danielle Chang in 2010, this eagerly awaited event will once again showcase the city’s most enticing Asian food experiences, along with avant-garde spots, fine dining establishments and local superstar mom and pop shops. Tradition becomes progressive in this mash-up of culinary cuisines, with drinks provided by Asahi Beer and Suntory Whisky (for even more LUCKYRICE, check out their EPIC-urean Asian Feast hosted by BD Wong at Capitale on October 14).

Turning the spotlight to sake, returning for its 12th annual celebration in New York City is The Joy of Sake. The world’s largest sake tasting event outside of Japan comes to Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea on September 27, featuring a record 400 premium labels from every part of Japan and sake appetizers from 16 of New York’s finest restaurants, including Momofuku, Sakagura and SushiSamba.

While current 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.

“In the last 10 years the amount of sake imported into New York has doubled as more and more people discover how good the premium labels can be,” says event organizer Chris Pearce. “The Joy of Sake is a celebration of the pleasures of the sake cup—and it’s also one of the best annual food and beverage events in New York.”

For more information and tickets, visit www.luckyrice.com and www.joyofsake.com.


Aug 27

 

Posted by Tom Baker (Chiba, 1989-91).

The Japan Writers Conference is a free annual event for English-language writers, held in a different part of Japan each year. In 2017, it will take place in Tokyo at the Ekoda Campus of Nihon University College of Art on Oct. 8-9, the last two days of a Japanese holiday weekend.

There will be will be about 30 presentations by published writers of fiction, poetry, memoir, travel writing and more. Several of those writers are former JETs.

JET alumnae Susan Laura Sullivan and Suzanne Kamata, for example, will give a joint presentation on editing anthologies. Sullivan is the editor of the forthcoming anthology “Women of a Certain Age,” while Kamata’s published anthologies include “Call Me Okaa-san” and “The Broken Bridge.”

Kamata will also give a presentation together with Ann Tashi Slater on creative nonfiction.

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JET alum and textbook author Todd Jay Leonard, whose many titles include “American Traditions,” will give a lecture on “The Ever-Changing Publishing Industry,” in which he will discuss traditional versus print-on-demand publishing, followed by a Q&A session.

Poet and novelist Holly Thompson, who first came to Japan in connection with the pre-JET MEF program, will present “Writing Picture Books: Nonfiction Opportunities.” Her published works include “The Wakame Gatherers.”

For details on those and the other presentations, visit www.japanwritersconference.org or follow @JapanWritersCon on Twitter.

The Japan Writers Conference, now in its 11th year, is completely volunteer-run, and admission is free.


Aug 9

WIT Life #315: Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema

 

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.

Last week the inaugural Kew Gardens Festival of Cinema began, and I’ve had the chance to catch a lot of great films at the two main venues of Kew Gardens Cinema and Queens Museum. Today they screened Persona Non Grata (杉原千畝 スギハラチウネ, 2015), a film about Japanese diplomat Chiune Sugihara (“Japanese Schindler”) who served as a consul in Lithuania from 1939-40 and saved the lives of thousands of Jewish refugees by issuing over 2000 transit visas to Japan. He famously continuing to sign visas even as his train pulled away from the station, and is estimated to have saved over 6,000 lives from the Nazis who invaded Lithuania in 1941. However, his diplomatic career was ruined because he had defied instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs not to issue the visas. Sugihara didn’t know if they had made any difference until being found years later by someone he had helped. He is now considered a hero in Japan, and those he saved have more than 40,000 descendants.

The film stars the phenomenal Toshiaki Karasawa as Sugihara and the always stellar Read More


Jul 14

Justin’s Japan: Ryoko Yonekura Returns to ‘Chicago’

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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.

This month, “Chicago,” the longest-running American Broadway musical in history, features Japanese superstar actress Ryoko Yonekura in the role of Roxie Hart for 11 performances from July 3-13 at the Ambassador Theatre.

Yonekura originated the role of Hart in the Japanese-language production of “Chicago” in 2008 and played it again in 2010. She then learned the role in English and made her Broadway debut in 2012. Following her return to Broadway this year, Yonekura will join the “Chicago” U.S. national touring company in Tokyo August 2-13 at the Tokyu Theater Orb.

An actress who has enjoyed a steady career in film and television in Japan since the year 2000, Yonekura is best known from the TV Asahi series “Doctor X.” Recently, she appeared for an intimate discussion and meet and greet at Asia Society on June 27.

“Ryoko Yonekura is an amazing bridge builder between the U.S. and Japan. In 2012, she became the first Japanese person in the history of Broadway to play a major character as an American. We are really excited to have Ryoko back in New York,” said Josette Sheeran, president and CEO of Asia Society.

Featuring classic tunes by John Kander and Fred Ebb, “Chicago tells the story of Roxie Hart, a Jazz age nightclub dancer who murders her lover after an argument, and the media sensationalism that follows. Originally produced for Broadway in 1975 and revived in 1996, the show won six Tony Awards the following year, and the 2002 film adaptation starring Reneè Zellweger, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Richard Gere won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. For tickets, visit www.chicagothemusical.com.


Jul 13

WIT Life #314: New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF) 2017

 

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.

This weekend concludes the 2017 New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), which offered another amazing lineup of films and special guests.  This is the 16th year of its running, and it just seems to get better over time.  I saw two of the Japanese films screened at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater, the festival’s venue, and another two I had seen on the plane during a recent business trip to Japan (In this same venue the week before the event I had the chance to see Harmonium (淵に立つ), which was not part of the festival but is another thought-provoking and upsetting Japanese film).

The two films I saw at the festival were Rage (怒り) and Double Life (二重生活).  Rage stayed with me for a while after watching it; it is not a film you can easily shake.  It is based on the mystery novel of the same name by Shuichi Yoshida, who also wrote Villain and Parade which were both made into fantastic films (the former directed by Sang-il Lee, who made Rage).  The story begins with the heinous murder of a couple in their home, with the young, male killer on the loose.

Characters from communities in three different parts of Japan (Chiba, Tokyo and Okinawa) are shaken by the appearance of three respective young men who fit the description of the wanted man.  As the manhunt unfolds, the more we find out about each suspect the more the suspense builds.  I was on the edge of my seat for the majority of the film, but once this fear dissipated the psychological terror of the Read More


Jul 12

JQ Magazine: Film Review — JAPAN CUTS 2017 at Japan Society

Neko Atsume House, starring Atsushi Ito and an army of kitties, makes its East Coast premiere at Japan Society July 16.
(Neko Atsume House © 2017 Hit-Point:Neko Atsume House Production Committee)

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By Lyle Sylvander (Yokohama-shi, 2001-02) for JQ magazine. Lyle has completed a master’s program at the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University and has been writing for the JET Alumni Association of New York since 2004. He is also the goalkeeper for FC Japan, a New York City-based soccer team.

The 11th edition of JAPAN CUTSthe Japan Society of New York’s extensive showcase of new Japanese cinema, premieres tomorrow (July 13) for 11 days of unique programming, special guests, and the chance to see exclusive North American releases. This year’s lineup—29 films in all—demonstrates the wide variety of Japan’s contemporary cinematic space. The programming runs the gamut from documentaries to shoestring independents, old classics and mainstream blockbusters. A handful of films were made available for JQ press screenings; here are some notable selections:

Neko Atsume House (July 16, 12:00 p.m.): Based on a popular smartphone game, this film deals with writer’s block in a most unique way. When the novelist-protagonist Sakumoto-san (Atsushi Ito) finds himself faced with his profession’s most dreaded dilemma, he accepts an assignment to write a series of horror novels—a major step backward for this once-celebrated author. In order to solve his predicament, he adopts the old cliché of secluding himself in a country house for creative inspiration. What follows is a thoroughly unexpected delight of a movie as he makes friends with a multitude of friendly felines with whom he bonds.

At the Terrace (July 16, 6:45 p.m.): Kenji Yamauchi adapts his play for the screen, in what can best be described as a Japanese Whos Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  This dialogue-heavy film finds a group of guests drinking into the night. As the alcohol makes its way through their systems, the characters let down their guard and inhibitions and make confrontational and incriminating accusations against one another. The veneer of civility gradually dissipates until the carnal desires and petty jealousies take over the proceedings. In the process, Yamauchi skewers the pretensions of Japan’s professional and bourgeois class.

Haruneko (July 16, 8:45 p.m.): Dealing with the Japanese fascination with death is first-time director Soro Hakimoto’s Haruneko, a tale set at a forest café where people come to die. In some ways, the setting reminds one of the infamous “suicide forest” at the base of Mt. Fuji, another place for a similar purpose. Unlike that real location, Hakimoto creates an ambience that can only be described as “melancholy mysticism” as the café manager, young boy and an old woman guide their visitors into the deep woods to dissolve into the ether. This film debut serves as a harbinger of great things to come from Hakimoto, who establishes himself as Japan’s answer to the great Thai director Apichatpong Weerasethakul (Tropical MaladyUncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives).

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