Feb 11

Guests of the Urasenke Chanoyu Center experienced a setting like this one pictured at the Nippon Business Institute Japanese Cultural Center of Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Courtesy of Philip Hafferty/Urasenke Chanoyu Center)

 

By Aubrey Keene (Hokkaido, 2004-06) for JQ magazine. Aubrey moved to New Jersey from Kentucky to complete a master’s degree in Asian studies from Seton Hall University. This is her first article for JQ.

On Saturday, February 3, the New York Adventure Club offered participants a private tea ceremony demonstration at the Urasenke Chanoyu Center of New York (UCC) in Manhattan. Nearly two dozen participants from the area attended to have their first experience with this iconic Japanese cultural tradition.

Experiences like this are not unique for members of the New York Adventure Club. The group, formed in 2013 by CEO and founder Corey William Schneider, was an effort, he explains, “to get my friends to join me on my random weekend adventures around the city.” For more than a year and a half prior, Schneider had been exploring the city on his own as part of what he calls a “mini-early life crisis” that triggered a desire to do more fulfilling activities in his free time. By founding the group on Facebook, Schneider hoped he could get others to join him: he quickly discovered his idea was a hit when over 100 people showed up for the first event. The group now boasts more than 9,000 members, with activities ranging from trapeze classes to tours of Grant’s Tomb to tea tastings happening almost every day of the week.

On a chilly Upper East Side afternoon, participants gathered in the lobby of the UCC for an introduction by their chado, or way of tea, master Yoshihiro Terazono, who gave an overview of the 140-year old building. Originally a horse carriage house later refitted as an art studio for Mark Rothko, the UCC purchased the building in 1980 and spent two years transforming the space into a tea ceremony center. It now houses three tatami mat rooms of various sizes where students come and practice throughout the week. Each room opens to an outdoor space of a garden area with a view of the windows three stories above. The aesthetics successfully evoked the image of a tea house in Kyoto, the birthplace of Urasenke.

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Feb 3

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York – Hello from Japan, Private Tea Ceremony, Katsu Album Release Concert

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.

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

Emily Munro

Now through May 6

Hello from Japan!

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

$14 children/adults, $11 seniors

Experience Tokyo’s vibrant culture in a new interactive exhibit! Children will have fun learning about life in present day Japan in this playful, highly immersive environment that transports families to two distinct areas of Tokyo that exist side by side: one serene and exquisite, the other, too cute for words. Kawaii Central is a streetscape inspired by Tokyo’s bustling Harajuku district, bursting with color, trendy shops and cuter than cute styles. Kids sing karaoke, smile for the photo booth camera, serve up a seasonal Japanese meal, and design adorable mascots for their families. Plus, learn more about contemporary Japan through special programs for the public, free with admission.

Courtesy of Eventbrite.com

Saturday, Feb. 3, 3:30 p.m.

Private Japanese Tea Ceremony Demonstration @ The Secret Kyoto Garden 

Urasenke Chanoyu Center of New York, 153 East 69th Street

$35 advance, $39 day of event

Experience one of Japan’s oldest traditional tea ceremonies in a secret indoor Japanese garden hidden in the Upper East Side—led by a Tea Master of Urasenke! Join New York Adventure Club for a traditional Japanese tea ceremony demonstration in the style of Urasenke, one of the main schools of Japanese tea ceremony. Established in 1967 to promote the rich cultural tea tradition of Urasenke in New York City, the UCC is a private organization that teaches its members how to master this ancient tradition over the course of 10-15 years. This event also offers an opportunity to consume the best quality sweets and matcha green tea from Kyoto, the birthplace of Urasenke.

Sunday, Feb. 18, 2:00 p.m.

Katsu: Debut Album Release Concert

National Opera Center – OPERA America, 330 Seventh Avenue

$20 suggested donation

Katsu started to perform in public about a month after he started playing the piano when he was the age of 19 by self-learning. He also started composing originals soon after the beginning of the public performances. After performing several times in Japan, He moved to New York. Then in December 2016, he debuted as a composer and a pianist at the Steinway Hall. Now, he has been performing his original tunes as a solo pianist at multiple venues. His music is described as New Age music, classical, Jazz, romantic piano, and more. This intimate performance will feature selections from his recently released debut album, Moon.


Jan 25

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.

Since forming in 1987, the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET) has become one of the world’s largest international exchange programs, with nearly 65,000 people from 65 countries selected to promote English language learning and teaching in Japan. To commemorate its first three decades, the JET Alumni Association of New York (JETAANY) is hosting an equally ambitious event.

“The main purpose of the JETAANY Gala is to celebrate 30 years of the JET Programme and all we hope it will become,” said JETAANY events chair Andy Shartzer. “JET has helped the grassroots community abroad, and our alumni chapters explore how we can continue its message. Our goal is also to establish JETAANY as a greater presence in the U.S.-Japan community.”

The sold-out gala, which will be held at Brooklyn’s Dumbo Loft on February 3rd, will feature multiple generations of JET participants and community members with ties to Japan, along with a taiko performance, an awards ceremony, and a prize drawing. Donations are from local companies and organizations including publisher Vertical, Inc., Kaoru Watanabe Taiko Center, and the venerable Japan Society of New York.

“Since its inception 30 years ago, the JET Programme has been a unique and outstanding facilitator of grassroots exchange between the U.S. and Japan,” said JETAANY president Wendy Ikemoto. “As one of the largest and most active alumni chapters in the U.S., we’re honored by the overwhelming response received.”

According to Shartzer, JETAANY plans to host similar events in the future, and is delighted to form new partnerships. For sponsorship and donation proposals, email Wendy at president@jetaany.org. For more information on JETAANY, visit http://jetaany.org.


Jan 18

JQ Magazine: Theatre Review — ‘Mugen Noh Othello’

“In this striking setting, the noh theatrics perfectly capture and complement the emotions and thoughts recurring in Shakespeare’s play.” (Richard Termine)

By Lyle Sylvander (Yokohamashi, 2001-02) for JQ magazine. Lyle has completed a masters 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 Citybased soccer team.

From Jan. 11-14, director Satoshi Miyagi and his company Shizuoka Performing Arts Center (SPAC) returned to Japan Society of New York with their sold-out production of Mugen Noh Othello. As with their previous Madea (seen at Japan Society in 2011), Miyagi and company adapt a classic play from the Western canon and infuse it with the stylistic conventions of noh. Specifically, Miyagi and his playwright Sukehiro Hirakawa re-tell the story from the viewpoint of Desdemona’s ghost, a traditional in the mugen (supernatural) style of noh. This style typically involves otherworldly beings, including gods, spirits and ghosts. Time is often depicted as passing in a non-linear fashion, and action may switch between two or more timeframes from moment to moment, including flashbacks.

Noh theatre is considered to be the highest art form among the five classical Japanese forms of theatre: noh, kabuki, bunraku, butoh and kyogen. The art form requires highly trained actors and musicians (Mugen Noh Othello featured a percussion ensemble of six). The actors usually wear masks to signify the characters’ gender, age and social ranking, and by wearing masks the actors may portray youngsters, old men, female, or even nonhuman characters such as demons or animals. Noh also contains a uniquely structured stage with the hashigakari, a narrow bridge that is used for entering. Since Japan Society’s theater contains a more conventional stage (albeit without proscenium), the hashigakari has been approximated. All actors enter through it, as if entering from another space into the new shared theatrical space with the audience. Throughout the performance, the actors chant in unison, further accentuating the otherworldly atmosphere.

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Jan 2

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Studio Ghibli, ‘Final Fantasy’ @ 30, ‘Mary and the Witch’s Flower’

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.

Start 2018 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

Jan. 1-11

The Complete Studio Ghibli

IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue

$15 adults, $11 children

In collaboration with GKIDS, IFC Center is pleased to present the return of this smash-hit retrospective of Japan’s famed Studio Ghibli animation house. Don’t miss your chance to see some of the greatest films of all time on the big screen! Titles include the favorites Spirited Away, Nausicaä and My Neighbor Totoro—with select screenings on 35mm prints! All films shown prior to 6 p.m. will be screened in the English-language version; evening shows will be subtitled in English. For a list of all films and dates, click here.

Mugen Noh Othello © Takuma Uchida

Jan. 11-14

Mugen Noh Othello

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$35, $30 Japan Society members

Following a sold-out run of Medea in 2011, Satoshi Miyagi and his company SPAC return to New York with another literary masterpiece, Othello. Miyagi re-tells Shakespeare’s famed tragedy through noh theater’s most distinct storytelling structure, mugen noh, or a play that features a spirit. Told from the perspective of Othello’s wife Desdemona, who returns as a ghost after her death, Miyagi’s production is replete with stunning masks and costumes as well as powerful live music and chanting. Performed in Japanese with English titles. The Friday, Jan. 12 performance is followed by an artist Q&A.

Courtesy of Ffdistantworlds.com

Saturday, Jan. 13, 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy

Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage), 881 Seventh Avenue

$28-$120

Distant Worlds brings its concert production to one of the world’s most famous orchestral venues. With composer Nobuo Uematsu in attendance, the Distant Worlds Philharmonic Orchestra and the Dessoff Choirs under the direction of Grammy Award-winner Arnie Roth celebrate the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy. These special performances feature exclusive HD video presentations from Square Enix alongside classic scores and new premieres.

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Dec 31

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto’

“While Zen Gardens can be challenging to grasp, there is magic to behold.” (Tuttle Publishing)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Kyoto has served as the focal point of Japanese cultural forms such as geisha, noh theater and ikebana. And as John Dougill thoroughly details in Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto, the city has played an enormous role in the development of Zen in Japan.

A professor at Kyoto’s largest Buddhist university, Dougill explores the ties between Japan’s former capital and the Buddhist sect in this guide to Kyoto’s most prominent Zen gardens and temple sites. While not the birthplace of Zen in Japan, Kyoto could be considered its soul as the city has long housed renowned temples where visitors and monks have sought serenity.

At first glance, such a book would seem to be a largely visual journal featuring a score of beautiful places. Zen Gardens doesn’t disappoint in that regard as photographer John Einarsen captures the splendor of some very spiritual places. But it’s clear early on that the book will rely primarily on stories to chronicle the story of Zen in Kyoto—not surprising since Dougill has previously written about Japan’s World Heritage Sites and Kyoto’s history.

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Dec 24

JQ Magazine: Jamming After JET — Rural Island Alums Release New Albums

“Living in Japan exposes you to music you would not have heard otherwise. I owe most of my knowledge to availability of 100 yen records all over the country and the friendly record store employees that were eager to teach me about Japanese music.” (Courtesy of Eli Cohen)

 

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

Regardless of your placement on JET, music is a constant part of the experience. Whether it is karaoke parties with friends, music festivals like Fuji Rock, “live house” local performances, or simply singing Beatles and Carpenters with your students (over and over), all of us take something musical with us from our time on JET. But what about musicians who join JET? JQ reached out to two alumni from small islands off the coast of Kyushu, who have gone on to release their own albums, and hear from them how these unique records reflect that experience.

Eli Cohen (Kagoshima-ken, 2009-2010) runs the International Admissions department at one of the City University of New York’s institutions. He is also a DJ who started a record label, Alliance Upholstery. His new album, Tokyo Nights: Female J-Pop Boogie Funk —1981 to 1988, is a collection of music that fits into this genre.

If that sounds obscure, we thought so, too. Cohen explains: “In high school I was really into Japanese punk (Teengenerate, Guitar Wolf). This is where my interest in Japan started. As I grew older, I became very interested in Japanese music from the ’80s, as well as fashion and art from the era. Japanese people refer to this style as ‘City Pop.’ Outside of Japan, the term is a little vague and people often call this Japanese Boogie. The sound reflects the attitude and excitement of the bubble, bright and full of optimism,” adding that his favorite artist is Toshiki Kadomatsu.

Cultures of Soul Records (click image for audio samples)

Many JETs can probably relate to Cohen’s experience as a JET placed on a rural, island, both in the difficulties adjusting, and the unexpected opportunities. Having spent several years before JET living in Osaka and Tokyo, Cohen was placed in Minamitane, below the southernmost tip of Kyushu, which he describes as “a tiny town of about 8,000 people on the island of Tanegashima.” Before that, he says, “I had felt very little culture shock when I first moved to Japan as I had only lived in major cities. Tanegashima was my first taste of inaka life and a very unique and challenging experience.” While he admits, “The students were great but I prefer city life and was eager to return to Tokyo,” he also shared the following: “JAXA, the Japanese space program, is based in Minamitane. There was a bar in town appropriately titled Moon Bar. I would DJ there on occasion and tried to incorporate space themes into the sets.”

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Dec 23

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘The JET Program and the US-Japan Relationship: Goodwill Goldmine’

“While focused solely on the American experience, the outline of the history and intention behind the JET Program’s creation is a fascinating and illuminating one. One hopes that this book will be the start of the conversation and academic study on JET’s other accomplishments and help complete the picture of a fallible but venerable institution.” (Lexington Books)

 

By Eden Law (Fukushima-ken, 2010-11) for JQ magazine. Eden is the current JETAA New South Wales President (in Sydney, Australia) and Australian JET Alumni Association Country Representative, and handles the social media/website side for JETAA International as Webmaster. He also runs the Life After JET podcast.

Note: Spelling is always problematic when dealing with international differences. I shall be spellingProgramthe way it is referred to in the book and the title, to avoid inconsistencies. Apologies, especially to any fellow Australians reading this. However, Ill be keeping my quixotically placedus andrs.

Created in 1987, The JET Program has brought tens of thousands of young people from around the world to work, live and experience life in Japan. An international exchange program of a diplomatic nature, its aims were to improve global perceptions towards Japan and to internationalised Japanese local communities, all through the format of teaching and improving English skills in schools. Since then, articles and papers about the effectiveness of JET has focused primarily on its impact (or lack thereof) on the level of English language ability on the student population, leading to questions about the feasibility of maintaining the high costs of the program. At least once, the program came close to termination: In 2010, a Japanese government budget review panel called for the discontinuation of JET, before the subsequent administration of Shinzo Abe saved it, setting the agenda for expanding numbers in the lead-up to the 2019 Rugby World Cup and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

More positive literature exists, of course: David L. McConnell’s Importing Diversity: Inside Japan’s JET Program, published in 2000, is the most well-known example, written by an academic who was once a JET participant. Seventeen years on, Emily T. Metzgar (Shimaneken, 1993-95), herself also once a JET and now an academic, has penned a follow-up of sorts, entitled The JET Program and the US-Japan Relationship: Goodwill Goldmine, which, as described in its title, confines its evaluation of the program on its international impact in relation to the United States and Japan. The JET Program justifies its restricted focus on this bilateral relationship on its assertion that the program was originally created with the United States in mind as the first target for Japan to improve its international image abroad. Statistically, 50 percent of the total number of participants throughout the program’s history have been sourced from the United States (and in an impeccable sense of timing, the book arrived on the eve of the program’s big 30th anniversary celebrations and JETAA conference in Washington, D.C., featuring Metzgar as one of the headline presenters).

Commentators seeking to put a more positive outlook on the program’s accomplishments have had to look outside of the hoary old topic of education. The JET Program settles on examining how it worked as a “soft power” initiative for Japan’s global image (the topic of how JET fared as an internationalisation agent of Japanese local community is, as Metzgar says, best left “as a promising research topic for an ambitious doctoral student,” though she does comment on these other aims later on). For those wondering, yes, the book argues that JET has been enormously successful in this aspect. Examples are plentiful in The JET Program: recalling the threat of JET’s culling high-profile American JET alumni in organisations such as the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and JCIE/USA defended it by referring to its “soft power” success. In other less fraught periods, the book cites senior members and policymakers of both governments who spoke positively of JET’s contributions to their countries’ relationship, implying acknowledgement of the same thing.

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Dec 18

JQ Magazine: Film Review — ‘In This Corner of the World’

In This Corner of the World is more than a good story with vibrant animation. It is a thoughtful work of art that holds its own against the other big anime hit of 2016, Your Name.” © Fumiyo Kouno/Futabasha/Konosekai no Katasumini Project

By Preston Hatfield (Yamanashiken, 2009-10) for JQ magazine. Preston is the English teacher you wish you had growing up. He taught in Kofu, Yamanashi on JET and later received his Masters in Education and teaching credential from Stanford University. He now teaches English at a public high school in the Silicon Valley, and is inspiring the leaders of tomorrow one dank meme at a time.

Raise your hand if you remember how it felt to watch Grave of the Fireflies. It isn’t often that you’re truly glad to have watched a film that slowly rips your heart out, but the iconic 1988 film about Japan during World War II did exactly that for generations of viewers. Nearly 30 years later, director Sunao Katabuchi (Mai Mai Miracle) has created his own anime masterpiece that is every bit as poignant, tragic and beautiful as Grave of the Fireflies.

Based on the award-winning manga by Fumiyo Kouno, In This Corner of the World follows Suzu, an 18-year-old girl from Hiroshima, as she is plucked from her life by a man she only vaguely knows and moves in with his family in the nearby naval port city of Kure. As Suzu acclimates to life with her new family, the audience gets a look at the daily ins and outs of domestic life for Japanese women at the time, from tending the garden and collecting locally grown plants to make their meals, to refashioning kimonos into trousers and robes. Suzu also struggles with learning how to be a good wife and ingratiating herself to her new in-laws and her husband’s hypercritical sister.

In the latter half of the film, Katabuchi shows how the war progressively deteriorates the Japanese’s sense of normalcy, comfort, and security. What was once a quaint seaside naval town is reduced to a scene of waking nightmare and blazing fire. There are incessant air raid sirens and evacuations to bomb shelters, government propaganda, espionage hysteria, overcrowded hospitals, and the incomprehensible annihilation of cities and the people who populate them. But despite a number of somber (if not heart-wrenching) moments, In This Corner of the World ends the way most of us wish Grave of the Fireflies could have ended, and that small dose of optimism makes the film much easier to sit with when the credits roll.

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Dec 17

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘The Abundance of Less’

“Although the purpose of The Abundance of Less might be to extol the virtues of simple living, it emerges as an enriching journey into the world of many extraordinary people.” (North Atlantic Books)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Simple living. Sustainability. Living off the grid. Practices and ideals that could bring about an enriching life and possibly freedom for many people—as well as concepts that have become more prevalent in recent years.

But the above-mentioned buzzwords aren’t endemic to the West. Thanks to Andy Couturier, the stories of Japanese living the most sustainable lives they can outside of the mainstream is documented in The Abundance of Less: Lessons in Simple Living from Rural Japan.

Couturier, a former English teacher and staff writer for the Japan Times, originally profiled ten Japanese living “a very principled way of life” that didn’t feed the capitalist machine for his 2010 book A Different Kind of Luxury. Spurred on by a surge in environmental activism following the nuclear meltdown in Fukushima, the author provides updates on each of the people he profiled in his original book (unfortunately, two of them have since passed away).

The people providing the “lessons” are (or have been), among other things, an anarchist; a writer/filmmaker inspired by the hippie counterculture; and a painter. Couturier was introduced to several of the ten people he wrote about by Atsuko and Gufu Watanabe, a couple he and his partner Cynthia met while teaching in Japan. Although the bookends of The Abundance of Less are dominated by his observations about life in Japan, a how-to guide for those wanting to follow in his footsteps (Couturier and his partner built their abode in California by themselves and applied many of the principles they learned in Japan) and his life story, the book largely focuses on the remarkable individuals he profiles.

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Dec 12

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Speak and Read Japanese’

Speak and Read Japanese won’t be mistaken for the most thorough guide for learning the language. But it is a nice reminder that injecting humor into language learning can go a long way.” (Stone Bridge Press)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Your JET experience (hopefully) included a lot of Japanese study. Whether you remember what learned is another story. But it might have helped to concoct some humorous words and phrases to help you best retain the new vocabulary.

Enter the world of mnemonics, courtesy of author Larry Herzberg. The longtime professor has created a language guide titled Speak and Read Japanese: Fun Mnemonic Devices for Remembering Japanese Words and Their Meanings.

You might be wondering, just what are mnemonics? They’re tools language learners might find indispensable in preventing the meanings of new words from escaping their minds. Early in Speak and Read Japanese, Herzberg mentions that such memory hooks have served as the best method of learning new vocabulary in foreign languages for him, for if he could tie the sound of words he was trying to learn to a word in English, he was more likely to retain the new vocabulary.

So is Herzberg’s work a productive tool for language learners? Well, much of the book is an English-Japanese dictionary featuring the translation of many common words and better yet (for hardcore Japanese learners), detailed breakdowns of each word’s kanji as well as literal translations for some terms. You might not have known that hikouki (airplane) is literally translated as “flying-going machine” and shinshitsu (bedroom) means “sleeping room.” And those wanting to improve writing kanji will be pleased to discover a chart of radicals toward the end of the book.

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Nov 16

JQ Magazine: Book Review — New from Tuttle (Fall 2017)

Tuttle Publishing

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia SubChapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a masters degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

Tuttle Publishing has released a selection of four books touching on subjects such as otaku culture, language/cultural tips for travelers, Japanese history, and inspiration for prospective visitors to Japan.

Tokyo Geek’s Guide: Manga, Anime, Gaming, Cosplay, Toys, Idols & More – The Ultimate Guide to Japan’s Otaku Culture

Many people have probably developed an interest in Japan through a deep affection for anime and manga (among other things). And with Tokyo being the obvious center of Japanese pop culture, this guide created by Gianni Simone serves as the perfect tool for otaku freaks to find heaven.

Tuttle Publishing

Tokyo Geeks Guide basically resembles a travel guide as it contains tidbits about where to explore otaku culture (such as bookshops, stores, events and even eateries—anime-themed ones are abundant in Tokyo). But you don’t have to be planning a trip to the capital to benefit from the book, though. Simone includes plenty of information pertaining to the history of manga, anime and video games in Japan.

Japanese for Travelers Phrasebook & Dictionary

At first glance, Scott Rutherford’s creation seems like a carbon copy of any other resource geared toward helping travelers avoid or limit communication miscues. And certainly, the book lists the standard customary helpful phrases for visitors to Japan trying to navigate the local hotels, airports, restaurants, etc.

But Japanese for Travelers provides plenty of useful advice about conducting good Japanese etiquette (e.g., what to do when invited to someone’s house) and culture (the section devoted to Japanese naming culture is interesting). Although the guide doesn’t intend to be the most thorough tool for language learners, it does include an English-Japanese glossary and numerous grammatical tips. And perhaps most importantly in this technologically reliant time, Rutherford dedicates a chapter to advising readers about how not to get tripped up by technology in Japan.

Tuttle Publishing

A Brief History of Japan: Samurai, Shogun and Zen: The Extraordinary Story of the Land of the Rising Sun

To many, the title of Jonathan Clements’s work would seem to be an absolute impossibility. Indeed, he uses that word in the preface to describe his task in telling a story that spans “millions of years.” But Clements settles on “specific moments of transformation” in eleven chapters that address periods of Japanese history ranging from the legend behind Japan’s formation to the “lost decades” that saw the country face a dwindling population and struggling economy.

While the information Clements provides at some points may be overwhelming, A Brief History of Japan does come to life through the collection of images appearing in the middle of the book (such as depictions of prominent figures and photos of landmarks).

Japan: Traveler’s Companion

Many, if not most, travel guides will feature an endless parade of “what to do and see” recommendations, and Rob Goss’s work is no different in a sense. But unlike some editions of Lonely Planet and Fodor’s, it’s clear when opening up Japan: Travelers Companion for the first time that the book will be anything but dry.

Tuttle Publishing

The subtitle appearing on its cover is “Japan’s most famous sights from Okinawa to Hokkaido,” but the inclusion of popular tourist destinations isn’t the reason to pick up the book. Amazingly beautiful colorful photos of the country’s most famous places will leave you speechless, and Goss includes helpful information for potential visitors about facets of Japanese life such as matsuri, cutting edge technology, and tradition.

For more information, visit www.tuttlepublishing.com.

For more JQ magazine book reviews, click here.


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.

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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 1

JQ Magazine: Film Review — ‘The Red Turtle’

A critical analysis couched in fiction of the Academy Award-nominated Studio Ghibli co-production (Sony Pictures Classics)

By Preston Hatfield (Yamanashi-ken, 2009-10) for JQ magazine. Preston is the English teacher you wish you had growing up. He taught in Kofu, Yamanashi on JET and later received his Masters in Education and teaching credential from Stanford University. He now teaches English at a public high school in the Silicon Valley, and is inspiring the leaders of tomorrow one dank meme at a time.

TL;DR: Directed by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit, The Red Turtle is another visual masterpiece by Studio Ghibli (making its external coproduction debut here collaborating with a European team) with a unique artistic style that makes the scenery itself a prominent character. Though it lost me in parts, the story is poignant and evokes an array of feelings, few of which are pleasant, though nonetheless lifeaffirming. In order to fully appreciate this film (which has no dialogue), you need to be in a calm, patient, and cerebral mood. Also, make sure you watch it in a very dark room, as the film features numerous nighttime scenes that are hard to see with extra light.

You never asked from whence I came, if I had a family in my own land, if I was happy in my new life. I suppose you found those details immaterial as far as we were concerned, but you should know that from the moment I opened my eyes and coughed the seawater from my lungs on that accursed beach we called home, after surveying the island high and low, near and far, and discovering no human civilization from which I could find salvation, I devoted every precious calorie in my body to escaping that forsaken rock, ocean be damned.

Let my words carry across time and space; to echo across the sky and go bounding beyond the reach of the island that tethered me. Let me communicate what I couldn’t before. Let my memory endure, because I have lost everything else. Let me go.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw you, a scarlet leviathan that decimated my rafts like waves over sandcastles. I admit I never quite worked it out. Was it your will or the island’s that kept me from leaving? Who did I enrage so with my escape plan and headstrong persistence in the face of constant setback? I guess what I’m asking is, were you the warden of the prison, or just one of the guards? There in the open ocean I gazed at you, awe-struck, sure in that moment that you were going to kill me for being so daring.

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