Aug 14

Justin’s Japan: ‘The Osamu Tezuka Story’

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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.

This summer, get to know the “God of Manga.”

From Stone Bridge Press comes “The Osamu Tezuka Story,” a documentary manga biography of the influential artist and the birth and evolution of manga and anime in Japan.

Written and illustrated by longtime Tezuka associate Toshio Ban and newly translated into English by Frederik L. Schodt (author of “Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics”), this colossal 928-page trade paperback covers the entire life of Tezuka (1928-1989), warts and all.

“Readers may be surprised to see how honestly Tezuka is depicted, as an extraordinarily obsessed individual whose family rarely saw him and as someone who suffered from his creative impulse and hyper-competitiveness,” writes Schodt in the introduction.

The creator of such beloved characters as Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, Tezuka also experimented with darker, more adult-themed works, penning more than 150,000 pages (over 700 volumes) in his lifetime, dwarfing any other manga artist. The book includes a detailed appendix of his complete creative output.

“As Tezuka grows and develops you are slowly introduced to his world and genius. This book isn’t just a book about a man, it’s a book about the development of a nation,” says Alexis Agliano Sanborn, a New York University program coordinator and Japan specialist. “Japan wouldn’t be the Japan it is today without Tezuka, and this book helps you realize it.”

For more information, visit www.stonebridge.com/catalog/the-osamu-tezuka-story.


Jun 23

Justin’s Japan: Lincoln Center Festival Debuts Takarazuka, Noh

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

From the roots of ancient Japan to the razzle-dazzle of Broadway, this summer’s Lincoln Center Festival will feature two very unique performances.

First up from July 13-17 is Kanze Noh Theatre. Known for its highly stylized masks and elegantly simple set featuring a single pine tree, this nearly 700-year-old dramatic form is one of the world’s oldest continuously performed genres of performance art and was recently designated an Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. A descendent of the founder of Noh, Kiyokazu Kanze and his troupe will present five different Noh dramas as well as two Kyogen, the customary comic interlude in a Noh program.

July 20-24 serves up the North American premiere of Takarazuka CHICAGO, an all-female production of the classic 1975 Tony Award–winning musical with Kander and Ebb’s classic songs—sung entirely in Japanese with English supertitles—and Bob Fosse’s iconic choreography. Formed in 1914 to attract tourists to the hot springs town that bears its name, the Takarazuka Revue has grown into a cultural phenomenon in Japan, drawing a devoted fan base of 2.5 million theatergoers annually for its adaptations of classic Western and Japanese stories, movies, and plays. Whether viewed as a sly subversion of traditionally rigid gender roles or lavish, Las Vegas-style entertainment, Takarazuka is an unforgettable theatrical experience.

For more information, visit www.lincolncenterfestival.org.


May 26

Justin’s Japan —Nippon in New York: LuckyRice, New York Japan CineFest, cosplay party, AnimeNEXT

ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D returns to AnimeNEXT, coming to Atlantic City June 10-12. (Courtesy of Animenext.org)

ROOKiEZ is PUNK’D returns to AnimeNEXT, coming to Atlantic City June 10-12. (Courtesy of Animenext.org)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

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

This month’s highlights include:

Thursday, June 2, 8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

LuckyRice New York Feast

Industry City, 233 37th Street (Brooklyn)

$88 GA, $150 VIP

Last appearing in Gotham for its Ramen Slurpfest back in October, this year’s New York Feast breathes new life this year as we move to a creative hub in Brooklyn to showcase the city’s most enticing Asian food experiences: from Southeast Asia to Western China, from fine dining global restaurants to local superstar mom and pop shops, from traditional dishes to fusion dishes that mash up culinary cultures. Enjoy tastings from over 30 curated chefs (including delectables from Pokéworks, Sushi Samba and Tuome), as well as dozens of craft cocktails, sake, beer, and beverages to keep you spirited throughout the night. VIP ticket holders gain guests one hour early admission.

June 2-3, 6:30 p.m.

New York Japan CineFest 2016

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

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

Highlighting some of the most exciting new voices in cinema, New York Japan CineFest is an annual event that features works by emerging Japanese and Japanese American filmmakers. Over two programs of short films, standouts includeTOKYO COSMO, an anime study on loneliness; Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides, a real-life story about a trio of women who left Japan in the 1950s to start a new life in America; and Keino, a documentary about the eponymous custom motorcycle builder of Brooklyn’s Keino Cycles. A reception sponsored in part by Kirin Brewery of America will follow the first night’s screenings.

Saturday, June 4, 5:30 p.m.

J-Collabo Cosplay Party

J+B Design & Café, 300 7th Street (Brooklyn)

$8 (free for J-members)

For this Inaugural event, J-Collabo offers a very unique underground theme location for photos. Bring our own camera or have their professional photographer capture your costume! The winner of their contest will receive a special gift from J-Collabo Brooklyn. Enjoy J+B’s Nel drip coffee, Yuzu Ginger Lemon and Yuzu Ginger Ale, exquisite teas, sake, and Japanese morsels while browsing a selection of gorgeous Japanese artisanal merchandise at this neighborhood treasure chest of rare and enchanting items.

For the complete story, click here.


May 13

Justin’s Japan: New York Japan CineFest

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Next month, New York Japan CineFest returns to Asia Society for two nights of short films by emerging Japanese and Japanese American filmmakers, highlighting some of the most exciting new voices in cinema today.

This annual festival was originally founded by two filmmakers, Yasu Suzuki and Kosuke Furukawa, and event producer Hiroshi Kono of Mar Creation, Inc. It debuted in 2012, and this year’s event is presented by Mar Creation and Citi Series on Asian Arts and Culture, offering 13 short films ranging from five to 40 minutes each. While there are no official categories for New York Japan CineFest, genres include drama, comedy, documentary, animation, and stop-motion animation.

Standouts include TOKYO COSMO, an anime study on loneliness; Fall Seven Times, Get Up Eight: The Japanese War Brides, a real-life story about a trio of women who left Japan in the 1950s to start a new life in America; and Keino, a documentary about the eponymous custom motorcycle builder of Brooklyn’s Keino Cycles.

All of this year’s films were originally released in the last two years. Many are debuting for the first time in New York, and a reception sponsored in part by Kirin Brewery of America will follow the first night’s screenings.

New York Japan CineFest will be held June 2-3 at Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue. For more information, click here.

Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment since 2005. For more of his stories, visit http://exm.nr/1qXud3i.


Apr 25

Justin’s Japan — Nippon in New York: Babymetal, Anime Fan Fest, Coppé, Eir Aoi, Hatsune Miku

Babymetal returns to New York at the PlayStation Theater May 4. (Courtesy of PlayStationtheater.com)

Babymetal returns to New York at the PlayStation Theater May 4. (Courtesy of PlayStationtheater.com)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

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

This month’s highlights include:

Wednesday, May 4, 8:30 p.m.

Babymetal

PlayStation Theater, 1515 Broadway

$49.50

New York City welcomes the return of Babymetal, a genre-smashing trio of teenage girls who perform a fusion of metal and idol music dubbed kawaii(cute) metal. After playing to a capacity crowd at Hammerstein Ballroom in 2014, the group returns to support its second album Metal Resistance, now available on Amazon and iTunes. After playing venues like the Tokyo Dome and Wembley Arena in London, Babymetal is poised to become one of the biggest (and widely known abroad) Japanese musical acts today.

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

J-MUSIC Ensemble

Shrine, 2271 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard

Free

J-pop meets jazz! The J-MUSIC Ensemble is an NYC-based, jazz-rooted instrumental band that is devoted to bringing new perspectives to modern Japanese music, showcasing a fresh take on the best of J-pop, anime and video game tunes. This strikingly sonorous eight-piece band combines the elements of the electric guitar, keyboards, bass, and drums with a full horn section—saxophone, trumpet, and trombone–to deliver a full and powerful, yet dynamic, sound. Following in the jazz tradition, the horns do not play a background role in this instrumentation; instead, they are at the forefront and are put in the same role as leading singers.

May 6-8

Anime Fan Fest 2016

Garden State Exhibition Center, 50 Atrium Drive, Somerset (NJ)

$32-$114, children under 10 free

OTAKU USA Magazine, the largest anime and manga magazine in the U.S., and MAD Event Entertainment producers of Comic Con in Long Beach, CA, has partnered to produce the OTAKU USA Anime Fan Fest at the Garden State Convention Center. The first year event features a star-studded guest list of voice actors, cosplayers, and more! “After producing countless events celebrating comics and pop culture, and our first convention in New Jersey having been such a success, we decided the time was right to produce an anime show” said Martha Donato, executive director and founder of MAD Events. “When we had the opportunity to co-produce this event with the number one magazine for anime and manga, we knew we had the makings of what will be one of the biggest weekends of the year for fans in New Jersey!”

For the complete story, click here.


Mar 27

Justin’s Japan: Nippon in New York — Nippon in New York: Musicals, origami, the GazettE, Keiko Matsui, Sakura Matsuri

Japanese Kyogen Theater featuring Manzo Nomura IX comes to Asia Society April 14.

Japanese Kyogen Theater featuring Manzo Nomura IX comes to Asia Society April 14.

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

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

This month’s highlights include:

Friday, April 1, 7:00 p.m.

Shunzo Ohno

Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway

$30 advance, $25 seniors, $35 day of show

Shunzo Ohno, one of the most versatile and influential trumpeters in modern jazz, returns with ReNew, his 16th album as a leader. ReNew injects elements of traditional jazz, hip-hop, spoken word, and free jazz, creating a tapestry of modern jazz that is distinctly his own. With “recovery to discovery” in mind, the genre-defying album is a testament to those affected by catastrophic events that have taken place throughout the world including the 2011 tsunami in Japan. The concert performance will begin with the documentary film Never Defeated: The Shunzo Ohno Story, which is based on Ohno’s powerful life experiences. The music for the film centers on The International Songwriting Competition Grand Prize award song (featured on ReNew), “Musashi.”

April 4-28

Origami in Action: A New Approach to Applied Origami

RESOBOX, 41-26 27th Street (Long Island City)

Free, opening reception Friday, April 8, 7:00 p.m.

Origami is the art of paper folding, which is often associated with Japanese culture. In modern usage, the word “origami” is used as an inclusive term for all folding practices, regardless of their culture of origin. The goal is to transform a flat sheet square of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques. Today, origami is truly a global phenomenon. Best known for making pop-up comic books, artist Sam Ita was asked by emerging Italian publisher Nui Nui to create a series of origami books, beginning with paper planes. Continuing the series, he collaborated with two other innovative origamists: jewelry and fashion designer Adrienne Sack, and dragon aficionado and champion pumpkin carver Paul Frasco. Their colorful works will be revealed in this special exhibition.

April 8-23

Japan Sings! The Japanese Musical Film

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$12/$9 Japan Society members, seniors & students EXCEPT screening of You Can Succeed, Too + Opening Night Party: $15/$12 Japan Society members, seniors & students

This spring, Japan Society celebrates the astonishing yet little-known world of Japanese musical films. The series focuses on the golden age of the “popular song film” starring teen idols and TV stars from the ’50s and ’60s. It also reaches back to prewar singing samurai and forward to twenty-first century genre mashups—10 songful cinema gems all on 35mm! Musical performance in these films incorporates Japanese musical tradition as well as the utopian space of the Hollywood musical to create a rich commentary on the intimate and unequal relation between Japan and the U.S. This series is guest curated by Michael Raine, Assistant Professor of Film Studies at Western University, Canada.

For the complete story, click here.


Mar 11

Justin’s Japan: The GazettE and BABYMETAL

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Located in the heart of Times Square, the PlayStation Theater will host two popular Japanese rock acts later this spring.

Making their NYC debut April 29 are the GazettE, a Kanagawa-based rock quintet that follows in the footsteps of other Gotham-conquering visual kei acts like X Japan and L’Arc~en~Ciel. Formed in 2002, the band has performed in Europe multiple times since 2007, and will headline its first shows in America this spring in support of its latest album, 2015’s Dogma.

The band’s biggest world tour to date kicks off in Mexico City April 15, and will take them to a total of 11 countries outside of Japan, including stops in Dallas, San Francisco, and Los Angeles in the States. Still completely self-produced, the GazettE continue moving forward, uncompromised in their artistic and unique worldview at home and abroad.

May 4 brings the return of BABYMETAL, a trio of teenage girls who perform a fusion of metal and idol music dubbed kawaii (cute) metal. After playing to a capacity crowd at Hammerstein Ballroom in 2014, the group returns to support its second album “Metal Resistance,” which will be released in Japan and several English-speaking territories in April. After playing venues like the Tokyo Dome and Wembley Arena in London, BABYMETAL is poised to become one of the biggest (and widely known abroad) musical acts in Japan today.

For more information, visit www.playstationtheater.com.


Mar 1

Justin’s Japan: Nippon in New York: ‘The Boy and the Beast,’ Kabuki, 3/11, WagakkiBand, Hiromi

Mamoru Hosoda's The Boy and the Beast premieres March 4. (FUNimation)

Mamoru Hosoda’s The Boy and the Beast premieres March 4. (FUNimation)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Tucked between Oscar and cherry blossom season, March offers an unmissable array of concerts, performances and exhibitions, along with a special gathering to mark the five-year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

This month’s highlights include:

Tuesday, March 1, 8:00 p.m.

An Evening of Japanese Traditional Theatre

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

$50-$500, student discount tickets available at the box office

Starring kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa, this performance highlights traditional Japanese music by showcasing three different traditional Japanese theatrical art forms: kabuki, noh, and kyogen. It is rare, even in Japan, to see these performed in the same evening and on the same stage. Artistic Director of the Grand Japan Theater Denjiro Tanaka is the son of Tadao Kamei, a noh musician, and Sataro Tanaka, the daughter of kabuki musicians. His shared lineage made this collaboration possible.

Opens Friday, March 4

The Boy and the Beast

AMC Empire 25; Angelika Film Center; Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea

$14.50-$15.75

The latest feature film from award-winning Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children)! When Kyuta, a young orphan living on the streets of Shibuya, stumbles into a fantastic world of beasts, he’s taken in by Kumatetsu, a gruff, rough-around-the-edges warrior beast who’s been searching for the perfect apprentice. Despite their constant bickering, Kyuta and Kumatetsu begin training together and slowly form a bond as surrogate father and son. But when a deep darkness threatens to throw the human and beast worlds into chaos, the strong bond between this unlikely pair will be put to the ultimate test—a final showdown that will only be won if the two can finally work together using all of their combined strength and courage. This limited theatrical engagement is presented in English dub and the original Japanese audio with English subtitles—check your local theater for availability and showtimes.

March 4-9

Of Ghosts, Samurai and War: A Series of Classic Japanese Film

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

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

In its history spanning more than 100 years, Japanese cinema has produced some of the most admired films that continue to enrich the world cinema discourse. Masterpieces by such greats as Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon), Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu), and Kaneto Shindo (Onibaba) have proved their enduring influence on filmmaking and film appreciation.

The six films included in the series are set during Japan’s Middle Ages (12th to 17th century) and produced during the Japanese golden age of cinema in the 1950s and 1960s—a time when Japan’s memory of war was still vivid. Using a variety of narrative and visual techniques, these filmmakers present a humanist approach to understanding life during war: from the struggle for power, to the quest for justice, or even the mere fight for survival. These rarely screened 35mm film prints also represent the best of Japanese cinema for their visual designs, color schemes, music, narrative strategies and performance styles, offering a pristine and essential viewing experience.

For the complete story, click here.


Feb 1

Justin’s Japan: Nippon in New York — Kamakura, TAO, Kimono Fashions, Noh, Kyogen

TAO Drumheart comes to NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts Feb. 11-14. (Courtesy of Matt Ross Public Relations)

TAO Drumheart comes to NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts Feb. 11-14. (Courtesy of Matt Ross Public Relations)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Stay warm this winter with some hot local events, from an exhibition that will transport you to another time, some cool late night jazz celebrating the best of two different cultures, and a fashion show and traditional performances you won’t want to miss.

This month’s highlights include:

Feb. 5-6, 11:15 p.m.

Patrick Bartley—Parallel Worlds: Japanese and American Music in the 20th Century

Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, Broadway and 60th Street, 5th floor

$10, $5 students (Friday); $20, $10 students (Saturday)

Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Late Night Session performances feature some of jazz’s most talented up-and-comers. Following his three nights of Bix and Tram: A Retrospective held earlier in the week, Parallel Worlds offers a brief, yet insightful look at the musical relationship between Japan and America, all performed by talented young musicians. The leader of New York’s own J-MUSIC Ensemble, Bartley (who performed with Jon Batiste and Stay Human on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert in January) will examine the important periods between the earliest recorded music (1920s-30s) and the turning point for all popular music around the world in the 1960s—a story told with jazz as its orator.

Feb. 9-May 8

Kamakura: Realism and Spirituality in the Sculpture of Japan

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

$12, $10 seniors, $7 students, free for members and on Fridays 6:00-9:00 p.m.

With over thirty masterpieces from the Kamakura period (1185–1333) from private and museum collections in North America and Europe, Kamakura is the first exhibition to look beyond the aesthetics and technical achievements of these remarkable sculptures, and specifically examine the relationship between realism and the sacred empowerment of these objects. The exhibition explores how sculptures are “brought to life” or “enlivened” by the spiritual connection between exterior form, interior contents, and devotional practice, reflecting the complexity and pluralism of the period. Kamakura marks the first major loan show of Kamakura sculpture in the United States in more than thirty years.

Feb. 11-14

TAO Drumheart

NYU Skirball Center for the Performing Arts, 566 LaGuardia Place

$45-$75

Direct from TAO’s successful, sold-out world premiere run of at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, TAO comes to tour North America. Their new show, Drumheart—making its world premiere in New York—is their newest show bringing you athletic bodies and contemporary costumes combined with explosive Taiko drumming and innovative choreography. directed by Amon Miyamoto (Pacific Overtures) and featuring costumes by Junko Koshino and stage design by Rumi Matsui (both Tony nominees), TAO has critics raving about their extraordinary precision, energy, and stamina. With hundreds of sold-out shows and more than six million spectators, TAO has proven that modern entertainment based on the timeless, traditional art of Japanese drumming, entertains international audiences again and again.

For the complete story, click here.


Jan 23

Justin’s Japan: Mar Creation, Inc.

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Those who have attended intimate Japanese arts performances in the city—such as last November’s sold-out shows of “IN THE BOX” at the Martha Graham Dance Company featuring Bessie Award winner Miki Orihara—might be familiar with the name Mar Creation, Inc.

Established by Nagoya-born Hiroshi Kono in 2003 as an independent record company with him doubling as label artist, Mar Creation expanded its focus to live events in 2008, and in recent years has been involved with various charitable causes. Some of its popular series include j-Summit NY (which hosted its 27th edition last month at The Bowery Electric featuring Alan Merrill, the original singer and composer of “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll”), and the annual New York Japan CineFest at Asia Society, which Mar Creation aims to expand this year as part of a national tour that includes Tokyo and several U.S. cities.

A music writer and journalist, Kono says that his other ambitions as a producer include a collaboration with Japanese calligrapher Setsuhi Shiraishi on her upcoming solo exhibition in New York and Washington, D.C. featuring workshop/performance shows with live musicians in multiple cities this summer and fall; Fukushima-related lectures and film screening events; Brazilian music festivals to celebrate the Rio 2016 Olympics; Japanese cherry blossom festivals in springtime; and anime/comic book conventions nationwide and abroad.

For more information, visit www.marcreation.com.


Jan 16

Justin’s Japan: George Takei Comes to Japan Society

"George Takei: From Barbed Wire to Broadway" comes to Japan Society Jan. 25. (Luke Fontana)

“George Takei: From Barbed Wire to Broadway” comes to Japan Society Jan. 25. (Luke Fontana)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Start 2016 off right by heading down to Japan Society for some fantastic new year’s fare. This month’s events celebrate the power of theater, with productions that examine international relations between East and West, celebrating a century of growing diversity but also spotlighting a stormy past. Treat yourself and catch a break from the cold.

This month’s highlight:

Monday, Jan. 25, 6:30 p.m.

George Takei: From Barbed Wire to Broadway

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

SOLD OUT. Limited tickets may be released; please call the box office on January 19 at (212) 715-1258 to check availability.

“Too few people know about that dark chapter of American history,” film and television star, pop culture icon and social media powerhouse George Takei (Star Trek, Heroes) told The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart in 2014, “when American citizens of Japanese ancestry were summarily rounded up with no charges, no trial no due process—the core pillar of our justice system—and put in barbed wire prison camps simply because we happened to look like the people that bombed Pearl Harbor.” In George Takei: From Barbed Wire to Broadway, Takei shares memories from the troubling chapter of American history when some 120,000 innocent Japanese-Americans were forcibly relocated from their homes.

For the complete story, click here.


Dec 2

Justin’s Japan: Kyogen, J-MUSIC Ensemble, Shunzo Ohno, Video Games Live

A Night of Kyogen with Mansaku Nomura and Mansaku-no-Kai Kyogen Company comes to Japan Society Dec. 10-12. (Shinji Masakawa)

A Night of Kyogen with Mansaku Nomura and Mansaku-no-Kai Kyogen Company comes to Japan Society Dec. 10-12. (Shinji Masakawa)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

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

This month’s highlights include:

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 10:00 p.m.

Gene Ess & Fractal Attraction

Club Bonafide, 212 East 52nd Street

$15

Fresh off the heels of their 2015 SESAC Award-winning album Eternal Monomyth, Gene Ess and Fractal Attraction have been solidifying themselves as one of New York’s premiere collectives featuring original material that explores the use of the voice as an instrument in a chamber group setting. Eternal Monomyth is the riveting companion piece to Fractal Attraction, which was the winner of the SESAC Outstanding Jazz Award in 2010 and peaked at number 3 on the jazz radio charts. Originally from Tokyo, Japan, Ess grew up on a United States Air Force Base on Okinawa. He has performed with Carlos Santana, Archie Shepp, Matt Garrison, Reggie Workman, Ravi Coltrane, and Dave Liebman.

Dec. 10-12, 7:30 p.m.

A Night of Kyogen with Mansaku Nomura and Mansaku-no-Kai Kyogen Company

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$55-$85, $45-$75 Japan Society members

Living National Treasure Mansaku Nomura, together with illustrious members of the Mansaku-no-Kai Kyogen Company, including Mansaku’s son star of stage/film/TV Mansai Nomura and practiced performer Yukio Ishida, return to Japan Society to offers a special evening of kyogen, Japan’s traditional comedic theater that satirizes and embraces human imperfection. Centering around Mansaku’s virtuosic performance of the vigorous solo piece Nasu no Yoichi, based on a serious episode from The Tale of the Heike, the program also includes the dynamic Akutaro, starring Mansai, about a troublemakers unexpected journey to repentance and the popular play Bonsan, which follows a foolish thief with a penchant for bonsai trees. With English supertitles. The Thursday, November 10 performance is followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception for ticket holders.

Friday, Dec. 11, 11:00 p.m.

Racha Fora

Club Bonafide, 212 East 52nd Street

$10

Racha Fora was formed in 2010 originally as a quartet by two Japanese and two Brazilians in Boston. Racha Fora issued its debut album in 2012, which was focused on group flutist Hiroaki Honshuku’s compositions, and embarked on a tour of Japan, which became an annual affair. They just released their second album from the JazzTokyo label, Racha S’Miles: Racha Fora’s Tribute to Miles, in which Miles Davis standards from the 1950s and 1960s are reborn in the 21st century featuring NEA Jazz Master (and key saxophonist for Davis in the 1970s), Dave Liebman. This intimate late night set features special guest Donny McCaslin on sax.

For the complete story, click here.


Nov 14

Justin’s Japan: ‘You Look Yummy!’

Click image to read story

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By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Shukan NY Seikatsu. Visit his Examiner.com Japanese culture page here for related stories.

For parents of little ones not quite ready for Jurassic World comes You Look Yummy!, a children’s book by Tatsuya Miyanishi and newly published in English by Museyon.

The story of a fearsome Tyrannosaurus (the star of 11 other bestselling titles written by the author) and the baby Ankylosaurus he grows attached to (the tot believes his “daddy” names him “Yummy” after he’s hatched), You Look Yummy!, teaches valuable lessons about the bonds between a parent and child, and how those bonds can remain strong despite mistaken identity.

Museyon

Museyon

As “father” and “son” grow close, the Ankylosaurus mimics the T-Rex in ramming mountains, cutting down trees and roaring (complete with his own muted sound effects). When the day comes for them to part, readers will be touched by what unfolds.

Children will be instantly attracted to Miyanishi’s illustrations. Throughout its pages, there are artistic touches like a white sky, coloring outside the edges to make the images pop, and hash marks for the dinos that serve as texture 101. Especially effective are scenes of a night sky jam-packed with stars and dotted with some exaggeratedly large ones (think Christmas tree). The result is something that feels like it could have been drawn by a child, but is secretly the work of a seasoned artist—after all, the Tyrannosaurus is a dead ringer for Godzilla.

For more information, visit www.museyon.com.


Oct 28

Justin’s Japan: ‘Ghost in the Shell’ returns, ‘Allegiance,’ Jake Shimabukuro

"Allegiance," a new  Broadway musical starring Tony Award-winner Lea Salonga (left) and George Takei (second from right) premieres at the Longacre Theatre Nov. 8. (Henry DiRocco)

“Allegiance,” a new Broadway musical starring Tony Award winner Lea Salonga (left) and George Takei (second from right) premieres at the Longacre Theatre Nov. 8. (Henry DiRocco)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

From Broadway to anime to J-pop, November is just as colorful as the leaves gliding through the air. Add to that a cutting-edge Noh-inspired stage spectacle, a classical collegium performance and the return of the undisputed ukulele master, and you’ve got an irresistibly epic rundown.

This month’s highlights include:

Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 12:00 p.m.

We Are Perfume: World Tour 3rd Document

Anthology Film Archives, 32 Second Avenue

$18

This new documentary follows the veteran all-girl pop trio on a two-month international live tour (which made a stop at New York’s Hammerstein Ballroom last November). While traveling around the globe to cities across Asia, Europe, and the United States, audiences will see Perfume’s powerful live performances and catch never before seen behind-the-scenes footage. Witness the group’s single-minded approach to their performances – the joy, anguish, and struggles, not only in the music, but also in fashion and pop culture.

Nov. 2 & 8

The Anthem of the Heart

Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue

$14

From the creative team behind Anohana, The Anthem of the Heart tells the story of Jun, once a happy young lady with a tenacious personality. Jun has torn her family apart by saying something hurtful, and her ability to speak has been sealed away by the Egg Fairy in order to stop her from hurting others. Now, Jun lives in the shadows and avoids the limelight. But when she is nominated to become the executive member of the Community Outreach Council and appointed as the main lead in the council’s musical, Jun will have to find her voice and the wisdom to temper her words. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Nov. 3, 5-8

Hagoromo

BAM Harvey Theater, 651 Fulton Street (Brooklyn)

$25-$70

An angel’s garment, possessed of mysterious powers, falls to a remote island on Earth, where it is found by a poor fisherman. To get it back, the angel offers up her greatest celestial gift: a dance of incomparable beauty. Dance icons and former New York City Ballet principals Wendy Whelan and Jock Soto, contralto Katalin Károlyi and tenor Peter Tantsits, and puppets by Chris Green come together in this inspired reimagining of a Japanese Noh theater classic. With choreography by David Neumann, costumes by Belgian fashion icon Dries Van Noten, and an original score by Nathan Davis—performed live by the International Contemporary Ensemble and Brooklyn Youth Chorus—Hagoromo merges genres to send a stranded spirit back to heaven.

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Oct 28

Justin’s Japan: LuckyRice New York Slurpfest Serves up Ramen Heaven on Earth

Gator Shio Ramen from Crane Ramen of Gainesville, presented at LuckyRice New York Slurpfest 2015. (Justin Tedaldi)

Gator Shio Ramen from Crane Ramen of Gainesville, presented at LuckyRice New York Slurpfest 2015. (Justin Tedaldi)

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Examiner.com. Visit his Japanese culture page here for related stories.

Imagine a place where a variety of regional ramen from around the world is served all in one night. Enter New York Slurpfest 2015, which was held Oct. 22 at Astor Center in Manhattan, featuring dishes from places as diverse as Florida, Fukuoka, Hawaii and Rhode Island—a ramen lover’s dream event.

Slurpfest, which is organized by New York-based Asian culinary event producers LuckyRice, was first held in 2013 and is expected to continue from the looks of last week’s participants, all slurping ramen with smiling faces.

“LuckyRice was founded seven years ago to bring awareness to [Asian] culture, and food is the most universal medium,” said LuckyRice founder Danielle Chang, who rhapsodized about ramen with guests throughout the evening.

“This simple staple has become this glorified chef cuisine,” she added, noting that the amount of ramen restaurants in Japan alone outnumbers every McDonald’s location on the planet.

My evening began with an intriguing dish originating from Crane Ramen in Gainesville called Gator Shio Ramen, which was made with a surprisingly refreshing salt broth topped with corn, greens, quail egg, and alligator tail chashu.

For the complete story, click here.


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