Feb 23
Click image to read article

Click image to read 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.

Now celebrating its 20th year, the New York International Children’s Film Festival returns this month, continuing its mission to cultivate an appreciation for the arts for moviegoers of all ages.

Anime films are a staple of NYICFF, and this year’s citywide selections are “Rudolf the Black Cat” (Feb. 25, March 4-5, 19), a modern-day CGI-animated tale of two kitties that celebrates the wonder of discovery; “Panda! Go Panda!” (Feb. 26, March 5, 11, 18), a retro classic from 1972 directed by Isao Takahata and featuring original concepts and character designs by Hayao Miyazaki; and “Ancien and the Magic Tablet” (March 18-19), a fender- and genre-bending film set in the not-too-distant future whose second screening also hosts director Kenji Kamiyama as part of the closing ceremonies.

By far, the most anticipated film is the East Coast premiere of “Your Name” (Feb. 25). Released in Japan last August, it smashed all box office records for the year and is currently the highest-grossing anime film worldwide (beating out Miyazaki’s own Oscar-winning “Spirited Away” by over $40 million at press time).

Written and directed by Makoto Shinkai (“5 Centimeters per Second”), “Your Name” tells the story of a young man living in Tokyo and a young woman living in the countryside who suddenly start switching bodies on a regular basis. It has been widely praised for both its animation style and emotional impact.

For more on this year’s festival, visit http://nyicff.org. Tickets are available at www.ticketweb.com.

 


Feb 5

 

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 an exhibition that will transport you to another time and place, some new an classic anime screenings, and a mash-up multimedia performance you won’t want to miss.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Cmom.org

Courtesy of Cmom.org

Now through May 14

Hello from Japan!

Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd Street

$12 children and adults, $8 seniors 

Back for the new year, this exhibit highlights how old and new traditions coexist in Japan, giving visitors a family-friendly window into Japanese culture. Children will have fun learning about life in present day Japan in this playful, immersive environment. Hello from Japan! is a new interactive exhibit in the Museum’s Lower Level Gallery. It will transport families to two distinct areas of Tokyo that exist side by side: the serene and exquisite Shinto Shrine Park, and the too-cute-for-words Kawaii Central.

Courtesy of Citycinemas.com

Courtesy of Citycinemas.com

Feb 7-8

The Ghost in the Shell

City Cinemas Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue

$15 

Before the release of next month’s live-action adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson and Takeshi Kitano, catch one of the greatest anime films of all time (based on the manga by Masamune Shirow and directed by Mamoru Oshii) on the big screen! In the near future, an elite group of police cyborgs called Section 9 works to stop hackers from commiting cyber crimes across the globe. However, there skills are put to the test when they come up against a hacker known as the Puppet Master. The pair of Feb. 7 screenings will be in Japanese with English subtitles; Feb. 8’s screening is English dubbed.

Courtesy of Asiasociety.org

Courtesy of Asiasociety.org

Thursday, Feb. 16, 8:00 p.m.

The Hougaku Quartet

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

Free, tickets available here.

Re-envisioning Japanese traditional instruments for contemporary music, the Hougaku Quartet explores everything from traditional Japanese music to cutting edge new compositions, all performed on traditional instruments. The quartet is made up of a group of young virtuoso musicians who graduated from Tokyo University, who have mastered the art of creating music for today and for the future, through traditional Japanese instruments. The Hougaku Quartet carries out its mission through commission, revival performance of masterpieces composed after the 1960s, and performance in the traditional “Sankyoku” ensemble style. A group of young musicians who are committed to both sustaining and expanding tradition, Hougaku Quartet is a fresh approach to Japanese music. With a special guest performance by Ralph Samuelson.

Read More


Jan 25
Click image to read article

Click image to read 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.

While riding the bullet train through Japan in 1989, the New York filmmaker Martin Scorsese was reading “Silence,” the award-winning 1966 Japanese historical novel by Shusaku Endo abut a Jesuit missionary’s persecution in 17th century Japan at a time when Christianity was practiced in secret following a national prohibition that lasted well into the mid-19th century.

Drawing from some of Endo’s personal experiences as a Japanese Catholic (as well as the director’s own religious upbringing as an altar boy in Little Italy), the film stars Andrew Garfield, Adam Driver, Liam Neeson, Issei Ogata, and Tadanobu Asano. The film has drawn comparisons to Scorsese’s own 1988 film “The Last Temptation of Christ” with its themes of faith and perseverance, and has endured a decades-in-the-making journey to the big screen.

In a 2011 interview with “Deadline,” Scorsese said ahead of filming, “‘Silence’ is just something that I’m drawn to in that way. It’s been an obsession, it has to be done…it’s a strong, wonderful true story, a thriller in a way, but it deals with those questions.”

Released on Dec. 26, reviews have been glowing (reflecting an 87% Certified Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes at press time), with the site calling it a “thoughtful, emotionally resonant look at spirituality and human nature that stands among the director’s finest works.”

“Silence” is now playing at select theaters in Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. For more information, visit www.silencemovie.com.


Jan 2

 

 

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 2017 off right by heading down to your local concert hall, 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:

GKIDS

GKIDS

Now playing through Jan. 5

Ocean Waves

IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue

$15 

New 4K restoration! Rarely seen outside of Japan, Ocean Waves is a subtle, poignant and wonderfully detailed story of adolescence and teenage isolation. Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo whose attitude vacillates wildly from flirty and flippant to melancholic. When Taku joins Rikako on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors, and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships. As the first Studio Ghibli film directed by someone other than studio founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, these new screenings of Ocean Waves are paired with Ghiblies: Episode 2, a unique 25-minute short film from Studio Ghibli, featuring several comedic vignettes of studio staff as they go about their day. Utilizing new animation techniques and software that would then be deployed on the production of My Neighbors the Yamadas, Ghiblies: Episode 2 made its North American debut in December 2016. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

GKIDS

GKIDS

January 5 & 9, 7:00 p.m.

Princess Mononoke: 20th Anniversary

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

$15.99

A two-night event! Princess Mononoke, the classic animated film from groundbreaking writer/director Hayao Miyazaki and the legendary Studio Ghibli, returns to movie theaters in celebration of the beloved historical fantasy’s 20th anniversary and director Miyazaki’s birthday. The first Studio Ghibli film to receive an uncut U.S. theatrical release, Princess Mononoke returns to cinemas subtitled on Jan. 5 at 7:00 p.m. and English-dubbed on Jan. 9 at 7:00 p.m. The celebration will include a special bonus screening of the music video directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Chage and Aska’s “On Your Mark”!

Courtesy of Publictheater.org

Courtesy of Publictheater.org

Jan. 5-9

Club Diamond

The Public: Martinson Hall, 425 Lafayette Street

$25, $20 members

Part of the 2017 Under the Radar Festival! Tokyo, 1937: An American silent film about a Japanese immigrant is introduced by a celebrated narrator whose existence is being threatened by the impending arrival of the talkies. Ten years later, he will survive under U.S. occupation as a street performer, desperately attempting to finish this story. Admiration and resistance, dreams and survival, Club Diamond is a modern take on the immigration tale. Its creators are Nikki Appino, an award-winning filmmaker, Saori Tsukada, who has been described as a “charismatic mover” (Backstage) and a “startlingly precise dancer” (The New York Times), and has been developed in collaboration with violinist Tim Fain.

Read More


Dec 16

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

Last night I attended a screening of Martin Scorsese’s new film Silence, based on the 1966 novel 沈黙 (Chinmoku) by Shusaku Endo, himself a Japanese Catholic.  It is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to 17th century Japan, who is played with great nuance by Andrew Garfield.  He and his followers endure horrible persecution during this period when 隠れキリシタン (Kakure Kirishitan or Hidden Christians) are targeted for their beliefs.  Having lived in Kyushu I had a vague sense of what had taken place in Nagasaki at that time, but not the extent of the barbaric ways Christians were killed and tortured. Read More


Dec 1

 

By David Reilling (Nagano ALT), writing from Sydney, Australia.

Even post-punks get the blues

Even post-punks get the blues

The Mohican Comes Home or “Mohican kokyô ni kaeru” tells the story of an estranged son returning to his hometown after being gone for a long time. This is a common theme in several other films such as the Godfather, literature and even the Bible, i.e. the Parable of the Prodigal Son. The humour and touching moments in individual scenes make this movie enjoyable to watch despite the predictable plot.

Eikichi Tamura left Hiroshima for Tokyo, hoping to become famous with his band. Like countless other would-be stars before him, Eikichi’s dream never takes off in the big city. The movie opens with Eikichi, the lead singer in a metal band, screaming “Get Sick and Die” to a bloodthirsty crowd of heavy metal fans smashed into a basement bar. The next scene cuts to Eikichi and his bandmates sitting backstage, looking tired and sombre. One of the members confesses: “I get more of a kick out of doing my part-time job.” This scene shows a glimpse into the outcast world of freeters, Japanese people who deliberately choose not to become salary-men and find work in non-traditional areas.

Eikichi goes home to his girlfriend and cramped apartment; he then decides to return home in order to tell his father, Osamu, that his girlfriend is pregnant.

The movie jumps to an unnamed island in Hiroshima and introduces Eikichi’s father. Osamu is a foil to Eikichi. Eikichi has a mohawk-haircut and screams obscenities at a crowd of mosh-pitters. Osamu is in all white suit, attempting to mimic 1980s pop rocker Eikichi Yazawa, and directing a school band of ten unenthusiastic junior high students playing at a temple for an audience of elderly townsfolk. Anyone who has ever taught English in a rural Japanese town will find this scene hilarious. Afterwards, Osamu berates the students for the awful performance as they stare at the ground.

He strikes a pose, again mimicking his idol Yazawa, and offers advice “Life… is a constant battle with yourself. OK?” Funny Scenes like this make the otherwise dull plot bearable.

From this point on the plot becomes predictable. Coincidentally immediately after Eikichi returns home, Osamu is diagnosed with cancer. The plot then follows a standard curve of a father and son trying to repair their relationship. Again, despite the lame plot, several scenes in the movie achieve a fantastic balance between touching and humorous.

In one scene, Osamu wants to eat a specific sausage pizza he had for his birthday some 20 years ago. In order to give his father satisfaction, Eikichi orders all of the sausage pizzas he can find from the mainland.

Eikichi strives to give his father closure. In my opinion, the peak of the movie is when Eikichi pretends to be his father’s idol, Eikichi Yazawa. Osamu states earlier in the movie that “Yazawa is his only pleasure in life” and that he named Eikichi after Yazawa. By this point in the movie, Osamu’s illness has degraded his memory. He cannot tell that the man in the white suit claiming to be Yazawa is really his son.

Osamu breaks down and confesses the high point in his life: meeting Yazawa’s eyes across the crowd at a concert in 1977. Could this really be the high point of someone’s life? Eikichi is remarkably patient with his father, considering his dad ranks a pop star ahead of his family.

The movie’s supporting cast, Eikichi’s mom, brother and girlfriend, played by the former all-girl band AKB48 lead singer, Maeda Atsuko, do an OK job. If the supporting cast are wheels, Eikichi and Osamu are the engine which drive the movie until the end. I seriously question why director Shuichi Oita chose to cast well-known, wealthy and successful actors to play the parts of freeters and country folk. The roles seemed fitting for lesser known actors or real live freeters to get their chance in the film industry.

Without revealing too much, I found the ending to be a disappointment. The conclusion felt hurried and lacked the impact of the rest of the movie. Does the poor story and mediocre ending make this a bad movie? Actually no. If viewed as separate short stories, the scenes are moving and hilarious vignettes. The ‘Mohican Comes Home’ will make anyone who has ever lived in the Japanese countryside long to return.

The Mohican Come Home (Mohican kokyô ni kaeru) by Shuichi Okita, released March 13 2016 in Japan, starring Ryuhei Matsuda, Akira Emoto, Atsuko Maeda, Masako Motai, Yudai Chiba, Katsumi Kiba, Jun Miho, Ryouta Koshiba, Miu Tomita.


Nov 28

 

By David Reilling (Nagano, ALT) and Eden Law (Fukushima, ALT). David hails from Cleveland, Ohio, and now lives on the Central Coast, Sydney in Australia. Eden is also from Sydney (via Malaysia). The interview questions were done by David, while Eden is the editor and did the write-up for this article.

Got thigh gap?

That’s a killer diet.

Here in Sydney we do love our film festivals, ranging from the grand Sydney Film Festival, to numerous language, cultural or country-based film programmes like the Japanese Film Festival (also grand), documentaries (Antenna) and short films (Tropfest). Horror and sci-fi gets to shine at the combined ‘A Night of Horror’ and ‘Fantastic Planet’ festival. This is also where director Hiroshi Katagiri gets to shine, with his debut film ‘GEHENNA: Where Death Lives’, after working in the industry as a special effects and makeup artist, sculptor and creature-creator (his impressive IMDB page lists some well-known entries like Wolverine, Hunger Games, Pirates of the Caribbean, Looper). He also lists his favourite films in the genre as ‘Zathura’ and ‘Cabin in the Woods’, giving you an idea of the influences in his film.

‘GEHENNA’ follows five people scouting for locations to build a spanking brand new resort, and while on a secluded island paradise, stumble across an abandoned Japanese WWII bunker, and decides to go exploring. As you can imagine, this is a Really Bad Idea – check out the trailer below.

We had a quick correspondence with Hiroshi as part of the promotion for film.

Your bio says you “moved to the US at age 18 to pursue a career in special makeup effects.” How did you start a career in special effects?
Basically I had build my portfolio and use that to approach make-up FX studios. That was in 1991 and it was kind of a new industry and… work and entry level [positions] were very low. I still feel I was so fortunate.

What was the most difficult special effects thing you ever made?
Dead mermaids for ‘Pirates of the Caribbean on Stranger Tide.’ Not technically difficult but I only had 7 weeks from start to finish to build 3 full body silicon mermaids. That was insane.

You directed the movie Gehenna: Where Death Lives. You also wrote it and did the special make-up effects. How was it? How long did it take? Tell us about it.
For the writing, I was writing as I’m thinking, “How do I make this?”. Since I know what exactly I can do, that really helped on writing… Doing make up FX myself is the best way to save money and keep quality. If I hire someone for this quality of FX, it will cost. It is not easy but I needed to do it. If there’s enough budget, I wouldn’t do the FX myself. I started doing make-up FX about 5 months before start of filming.

Why did you choose Saipan [location of the film]?
I was looking to the location where Japan and America fought. Saipan just came up to my mind first.

What challenges did you have filming there?
Biggest challenge was the weather. We avoided the rainy season but there were rainstorms. On first day of shoot, we had 5-6 showers between. That was scary. I had to modify camera angles to hide wet ground.

Will you direct a movie again?
Of course I will!

Will you make a movie in Australia?
Sure I’d love to! I’m a huge fan of Mad Max!!


Nov 24

 

David Reilling lived in Nagano Prefecture, Japan for five years as an ALT. Although he is originally from Cleveland, Ohio in the United States, he is now living on the Central Coast of Australia. He loves traveling and could be anywhere next.

It won't come off, unfortunately.

Even we’re confused about what’s going on.

‘The Inerasable’ or “Zan’e: Sunde wa ikenai heya” frightens the viewer and draws them into plot from the start.

The scene jumps to the present. The main character, played by Yuko Takeuchi, is an unnamed author of mystery-novels. Yuko’s character is currently attempting to write a horror novel with the help of her writers’ group. She receives a letter from a university student living in Tokyo, Futa, asking for her help. Futa believes a restless spirit haunts her apartment.

The best scenes of the movie happen in this early half of the movie. Futa sits down at her kitchen table in the evening to do homework and hears a sweeping noise behind her. She spins around and peers into her bedroom. She sees nothing and returns to her homework. The sweeping noise persists. The music stops. She tiptoes over to her bed, and looks underneath it. She finds nothing, yet the sweeping continues.

The scene was terrifying due to the plausibility: What would you do if you kept hearing the same strange noise in your apartment? I would probably call the Ghost Busters and Bill Murray.

These early scenes set a high standard. I expected to be jumping out of my IKEA couch for the rest of the movie. As Yuko Takeuchi’s character and Futa begin exchanging letters a deeper mystery begins to unravel. Other residents of the apartment building have been experiencing strange occurrences too.  The previous resident of Futa’s apartment number only lasted 6 months. The young father of a family moving next door approaches Futa. He pulls her aside and asks, “Did anything strange happen here? The rent is lower than this general area.” I immediately paused the movie and compared the rent of my apartment against data on realestate.com.au. I breathed a sigh of relief: it is 10% above the average rent cost.

The novelist and Futa look further into the history of the apartment building and its former occupants. Unfortunately, the plot descends into absurdity when attempting to link the current state of the apartment building to a long series of bizarre past tragedies. The previous occupant of Futa’s apartment hung himself in his new apartment after going mad from hearing the same sweeping noises. The noises appear be the brushing of a kimono along the floor after a woman hung herself and swayed from the rafters.

‘Inerasable’ leaves the horror genre and becomes a mystery. The apartment building sits on cursed ground. Before the apartments were built, a crazy old man who hoarded bags of trash inside his house, suffocated to death.

The main characters dig deeper into the histories of previous homeowners on the lot. Nearly 50 years earlier, a woman and her husband return home after attending their daughter’s wedding. The husband sits down to enjoy a cup of sake. Without a word, the woman hangs herself from the rafters, her kimono sash swishing along the floor. Has the source of the supernatural evil just been uncovered?

The plot becomes overly complicated at this point, deviating from the suspense of the first half. The two detectives pursue a bizarre chain of events so disturbing they become implausible and outrageous. As it turns out, a mother turned baby killer also lived on the land. Before her, another family imprisoned their mentally ill son in a cage. Somewhere in-between these two stories, a legend of a cursed portrait of a woman is told by a Buddhist monk. Is the picture the true source of the supernatural evil?

Not quite. In yet another turn of the plot, the picture originally came from a family in Kyushu, the Okuyama family. Of course something tragic happened to this family too. The husband was driven mad by voices, killed his entire family with a katana and then took his own life with the sword. Surely this is the last piece, right?

Wrong again. It turns out the crazy husband was the boss of a coal mine where over 100 miners died in an accident. The miners cursed the coal boss and agreed to haunt his house, pushing him into madness.

If the plot wasn’t bizarre enough, Yuko’s Takeuchi’s character suddenly appears wearing a neck brace for no reason connected to the plot.

The mystery ends because both Futa and the writer give up. Futa admits defeat: “The curse just keeps going. I’m at the point where I’m no longer sure what I’m looking for.” As a viewer, I was no longer sure what I was supposed to be looking for in this movie. ‘The Inerasable’ began as an excellent horror movie then devolved into a tangled and far-fetched mystery movie. I wanted the movie to stick with the simple and suspenseful formula from the first half.

On a final note, The latter half of the movie did have some interesting scenes showing jichinsai, a traditional Shinto ground-breaking ceremony. A temporary shrine is built and a Shinto priest in traditional garb blesses the ground before construction begins. The ceremony still occurs today.

The Inerasable (Zan’e: Sunde wa ikenai heya) by Yoshihiro Nakamura, released October 25 2015 in Japan, starring Takeuchi Yuko, Hashimoto Ai, Sasaki Kuranosuke, Sakaguchi Kentaro, Takito Kenichi.


Oct 29

 

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:

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Friday, Nov. 4, various times

We Are X

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn, 445 Albee Square West

$11

East Coast premiere! This award-winning documentary debuted at Sundance and SXSW earlier this year chronicles the back story of the hard rock band X Japan, as its star drummer Yoshiki prepares for a reunion concert at Madison Square Garden. While virtually unknown to U.S. audiences, Yoshiki has sold more than 30 million records overseas, where he enjoys an A-list following. Directed by Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile) and produced by John Battsek (Searching for Sugar Man), We Are X includes testimonials from such high-profile X fans as Gene Simmons and Marilyn Manson. See Yoshiki and director Stephen Kijak in person for Q&A on Fri, 11/4 following the 7:30 p.m. show. Director Stephen Kijak appears in person for Q&A Sat, 11/5 following the 6:30 p.m. show.

Top Shelf Productions

Top Shelf Productions

Tuesday, Nov. 8

Tonoharu: Part Three

$24.95                                              

The long-awaited final volume of the critically acclaimed Tonoharu series from JET alum Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken, 2003-2006) rejoins Dan Wells several months into his tenure as an English teacher in the Japanese village of Tonoharu. As personal stresses push Dan to the breaking point, he decides to take an extended cross-country vacation to let off steam. His time away grants him a fresh perspective on his troubles, but upon his return to Tonoharu, Dan discovers that dramatic change has occurred in his absence. Will this upheaval render his new-found epiphany moot? With hundreds of beautiful, detailed illustrations that evoke 19th century line engravings, Tonoharu provides a nuanced portrayal of the joys and frustrations of living abroad.

© Hiromi Sonoda

© Hiromi Sonoda

Friday, Nov. 11, 8:30 p.m.

Sounds to Summon the Japanese Gods: Ko Ishikawa

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$20, $15 Japan Society members. A limited number of Lobby Seats are available for purchase. Please call the box office at (212) 715-1258 to inquire.

Step into a space where otherworldly sounds abound. Led by Ko Ishikawa, master player of the sho (ancient Japanese mouth organ) and internationally active contemporary musician, this program offers selections spanning from medieval gagaku (Imperial Court music) to works by acclaimed music composer Mamoru Fujieda. Ishikawa will be joined by Kayoko Nakagawa on koto and Ami Yamasaki on voice for this musical soiree, which also incorporates the sounds of fermenting shochu (Japan’s distilled alcohol), a highly sacred beverage in Japanese mythology.

Read More


Oct 9
Click image to read issue

Click image to read issue

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 most influential rock band in Japanese history, X Japan has sold 30 million albums, performed a record 18 shows at Tokyo Dome, and even headlined Madison Square Garden in 2014. Led by their flamboyant drummer/pianist Yoshiki, the band rewrote the rules for both sound and style in the late ’80s and early ’90s, giving birth to the visual kei genre in the process.

After a series of struggles and rebirth, 2016 promises to be X’s biggest year yet on the global stage. The band is months away from releasing their first studio album in 20 years, and with October 21 comes the theatrical premiere of “We Are X,” a new award-winning documentary of the group from American director Stephen Kijak, best known for 2010’s “Stones in Exile.”

The film had its first-ever screening at Sundance in January, and Yoshiki himself appeared in New York last month for a special invitation-only screening of the film at the Crosby Street Hotel in Soho, where he participated in a Q&A with the director, played grand piano, and greeted some very lucky fans.

While X Japan has no current plans to tour America, fans hoping to see Yoshiki on stage won’t have to wait too long: Yoshiki Classical with the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra makes its Carnegie Hall debut January 12 and 13. Tickets are available now. For more information on cities and premiere dates for the film, visit www.wearexfilm.com.

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


Sep 29

 

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.

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:

01-courtesy-of-i-ytimg-comOct. 1-2

ESL One New York 2016

Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue (Brooklyn)

$49, $89

ESL, the world’s largest esports company, brings the East Coast’s largest esports tournament to Brooklyn! This two-day tournament will feature a $250,000 Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition and a $75,000 Street Fighter V Brooklyn Beatdown offline tournament! In addition to the tourneys, ESL One New York will feature a wide array of activities as part of the main event, including pro player autograph sessions, virtual reality experiences, the ESL Shop, and other fan fest activities.

Courtesy of Dromnyc-com.

Courtesy of Dromnyc.com.

Sunday, Oct. 2, 7:00 p.m.

Edensong Album Release Show

DROM, 85 Avenue A

$13 advance, $18 at the door

“I started writing some of the material for the album on my final year on JET,” says New York City-based alum Tony Waldman (Mie-ken, 2005-09), drummer and co-composer for progressive rock quintet Edensong, about the band’s new album, Years in the Garden of Years. “Some of the music is definitely inspired by Japanese RPG game music and references stuff both musically and in the titles of songs.” The band’s self-released 2008 debut The Fruit Fallen was hailed as a “masterpiece” by critics, and helped pave the way for live shows and notable festival appearances throughout North America. Their new release further explores their intricately composed eclectic orchestral rock style, culminating in this special live performance.

Courtesy of Jazz.org

Courtesy of Jazz.org

Wednesday, Oct. 5, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Lew Tabackin Trio with special guest Toshiko Akiyoshi

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Broadway and 60th Street, fifth floor

$40, $25 students

One of the greatest marriages in jazz history, NEA Jazz Master Toshiko Akiyoshi and reed virtuoso Lew Tabackin have been leading and performing in top jazz groups since the sixties. Akiyoshi is known for her challenging and full-textured arrangements that sometimes evoke her homeland, Japan, while Tabackin is recognized for his dedication to showing the full range of possibilities on his instrument—melodically, rhythmically, and dynamically. Together, they lead an eponymous big band of international renown, but this special one-night-only engagement at Dizzy’s will showcase the duo in a more intimate small group setting.

Read More


Aug 28

 

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.

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 Erik Shirai

Courtesy of Erik Shirai

Wednesday, Aug. 31, 6:00 p.m.

The Birth of Sake

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

Free (click here for tickets)

Winner of the Special Jury Mention for Best Documentary Director at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival! Go behind the scenes at Japan’s Yoshida Brewery, where a brotherhood of artisans, ranging from 20 to 70, spend six months in nearly monastic isolation as they follow an age-old process to create sake, the nation’s revered rice wine. This special screening precedes the film’s public airing on PBS. Followed by a Q&A with producer Masako Tsumura.

Courtesy of www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Courtesy of www.thewarfieldtheatre.com

Sept. 3-4, 8:00 p.m.

Perfume

Manhattan Center Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street

$40.50-$65.50

Formed in 2000 in Hiroshima by a trio of girls in the same performing arts academy, Perfume has been one of the biggest J-pop success stories of the past decade. Now, with the release of their latest album Cosmic Explorer, the electronic pop trio is gearing up for its sixth tour, with a pair of shows at the legendary Hammerstein Ballroom.

Courtesy of Peaceonyourwings.com

Courtesy of Peaceonyourwings.com

Sept. 9-10

Peace on Your Wings

Gerald W. Lynch Theater, 524 West 59th Street

$30-$40, $15 students

An original musical inspired by the life of Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old girl who died from leukemia resulting from radiation caused by the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. She was made famous for having folded over a thousand paper cranes to fulfill an old Japanese legend that would grant one wish to anyone who would fold one thousand cranes. To this day, she is a reminder of innocent victims of war, and her story of her thousand paper cranes have inspired a movement of folding cranes for peace. The musical juxtaposes Sadako’s true story and the events leading up to her death in November 1955 with a fictional story about a group of her friends who rallied support from around Japan to have a monument built in Sadako’s memory to honor the children victims of the atomic bomb.

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Aug 26

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.happyhour2

Back in March I didn’t have time to blog about my participation in the New Directors New Films festival held at Lincoln Center, but I had the chance to interpret for director Ryusuke Hamaguchi when his epic film Happy Hour was screened there.  With a run time of 317 minutes it is not for the meek, but I can honestly say that it didn’t feel nearly as long as its 5+ hours and that it was a movie I thoroughly enjoyed.  Perhaps because I am the same age as the four female 38-year old main characters, all amateurs who were selected for their parts via an acting workshop that Hamaguchi ran in Kobe.

As you can imagine, the film’s long run time allows it to delve deeply into each of the four women’s lives.  The central thread is that of the character Jun (pictured here on the left), who is Read More


Jul 31

 

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.

In the dog days of summer, it’s best to escape the heat in a place that’s cozy and cool. For those into Japanese 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 Japanculture-nyc.com

Courtesy of Japanculture-nyc.com

Various dates from Aug. 3

Studio Ghibli Summer Festival

Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue

$10, $15

This month, Village East Cinema presents four more films from the legendary Studio Ghibli and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki! Here’s your chance to enjoy some Japan’s greatest and most influential animated films on the big screen. The morning screenings are English dubbed versions, while the evening screenings are in Japanese with English subtitles. This month’s selections include Japan’s all-time box office champ Spirited Away (Aug. 3-4), Howl’s Moving Castle (Aug. 10-11), Tales from Earthsea (Aug. 17-18), and From Up on Poppy Hill (Aug. 31-Sept. 1).

Cleis Press

Cleis Press

Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016

Asa Akira, Dirty Thirty

$12.99 Kindle, $13.64 paperback

The world knows her as a porn star…but it’s her way with words that will touch you again and again. As she contemplates turning thirty years old while still being in the adult film trade, Asa Akira delves into her past, present, and future, exploring the events that brought her to where she is now and the surprising and insightful plans she has for her future. Asa’s perceptive, funny, and straightforward writings on love, sex, death, marriage and celebrity come together in this surprising book of essays that will have you laughing hysterically one minute and deep in reverent thought the next. Personally revealing as well as universal, Dirty Thirty marks the coming of age of a new literary star.

© 2016 Musical Company OZmate Co.,Ltd.

© 2016 Musical Company OZmate Co.,Ltd.

Aug. 12-17

The Legend of Oni

Flamboyán Theater at The Clemente, 107 Suffolk Street

$13-$18

OZmate, a musical theater company based in Takarazuka, proudly presents The Legend of Oni with an all-female cast as part of the New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC)! The Legend of Oni is a musical about two Oni, ogres in Japan, in the pre-samurai Heian period. Lose yourself in the beautiful Japanese days of old with wonderful kimono costumes under the direction of Naoko Tsujii. OZmate also appears earlier this month as part of J-Summit New York at the Bowery Electric (327 Bowery) on Sunday, Aug. 7, with additional performances by Truthseekers, LUST, Lulla LayLa, Tamuro Rie, Naoki, Megumi, Shino Frances, Takaro Nishimura, and Emi Matsushita. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.; tickets are $15 advance, $18 at the door (includes one drink).

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Jul 17

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.mohican

This week kicked off the 10th year of the JAPAN CUTS film festival at Japan Society, and if the initial films are any indication this year’s lineup looks as stellar as the nine previous.  The opening film was Mohican Comes Home, and was introduced by director Shuichi Okita and co-star Atsuko Maeda.  They were also both on-hand for a post-screening Q&A, where they revealed behind-the-scenes stories about filming.

Okita’s previous film The Woodsman and the Rain was shown at JAPAN CUTS 2012 (with an appearance by star Koij Yakusho!), and like this film Mohican is set in a rural location.  The plot is of a young man (Ryuhei Matsuda) from a small island in Hiroshima, who hasn’t been back in seven years since living in Tokyo, where he scrapes by as the lead singer for a struggling death metal band.  He decides to return home for a quick visit with his girlfriend (Maeda), who is pregnant and he intends to marry.

The film features a wacky cast of island characters, including his zany family with the always wonderful Masako Motai as the mother.  Akira Emoto plays his father, who we quickly learn has been diagnosed with lung cancer.  Matsuda’s character decides to stay longer than planned to take care of his dad.  His bumbling attempts at connection are both relatable and touching, and the bonds between Read More


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