Jan 26

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). For more of his articles, click here.

On Jan. 12-13, Yoshiki of the band X Japan—the nation’s number one rock group, which has sold out the 55,000 seat Tokyo Dome a record 18 times and has moved more than 30 million singles and albums since forming in the 1980s—fulfilled a lifelong dream by debuting, and also selling out, two consecutive nights at Carnegie Hall in New York City with his Yoshiki Classical Special performance.

Backed by the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Yuga Cohler with arrangements by Shelly Berg, the nearly three-hour concert brought an arena vibe to the traditional concert hall setting. Featuring a mix of X Japan classics, new material, and pitch perfect renditions from the book of Beethoven and Tchaikovsky, Yoshiki brought the tunes to life at the piano, and additional turns from guest vocalists Katie Fitzgerald and Ashley Knight provided bright spots of witty banter (unlike other Japanese superstars poised for American fame, Yoshiki’s English is fluent).

The production team pushed the limits of imagination for Carnegie Hall, with lighting so intense that Yoshiki himself had to ask his crew mid-song to reposition of one of the rigs. Videos and still images (courtesy of last year’s internationally released documentary We Are X) were amply beamed overhead throughout the show, giving the audience the full scope of Yoshiki’s lifelong artistic journey.

In the final stretch following the X Japan epic “Art of Life,” an instrumental version of “Endless Rain” spotlighted a colossal mirror ball that bathed the hall in brilliant, swirling light, as those in the front rows unexpectedly belted out its bilingual chorus to the delight of longtime fans.

While X Japan supporters might have to wait a bit longer to witness another full band performance in New York (they last headlined Madison Square Garden in 2014), Yoshiki Classical Special easily lived up to its name, making another dream come true for both performer and audience.

For additional photos and videos of the concert, visit Yoshiki’s homepage at www.yoshiki.net.

01 - 20170112_KA2_0053 02 - KA4_0752 03 KA2_0197 04 KA4_0441 05 DSC_6307_r

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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.

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Dec 11
"Time to Play is very much a well-produced compilation of covers that delights in mixing together several genres." (J-MUSIC Ensemble)

Time to Play is a well-produced colletion of covers that delights in mixing together several genres.” (J-MUSIC Ensemble)

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

“J-pop meets jazz.” What does that really mean?

These words appear on the J-MUSIC Ensemble’s official website, the J-MUSIC Ensemble being a New York-based jazz-influenced instrumental band that mixes various genres. The group’s Grammy-nominated founder Patrick Bartley once told me, “We’re not just playing jazz songs; we’re taking the jazz mentality.”

So what do they serve up with Time to Play, their full-length recording debut? Befitting the group’s name, Time to Play features eight covers of songs by popular Japanese musical acts (including Hikaru Utada’s “Simple and Clean”) executed in a cohesive mix of jazz, funk, rock and pop. Sure enough, the album’s first track (and Perfume cover) “Game” features a significant rock influence with a heavy dose of bass and guitar. The album closes with another substantial touch of rock as the Yoko Kanno cover “The Real Folk Blues” also features a significant helping of the two above-mentioned instruments (but oddly enough, the song doesn’t sound in any way like a folk or blues tune).

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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.

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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.

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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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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 8

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

After you’ve seen the outdoor fireworks, enjoy some summer events in the cool indoors, whether it’s catching one of the dozens films premiering at Japan Society’s annual festival, or enjoying anything from traditional theater to the latest pop sensation.

This month’s highlights include: 

Courtesy of Japanculture-nyc.com

Courtesy of Japanculture-nyc.com

Various dates beginning July 6

Studio Ghibli Summer Festival

Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue

$10, $15 

This month, Village East Cinema presents four films from the legendary Studio Ghibli and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki! Every Wednesday and Thursday from July 6 through July 28 offers a 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. July’s selections include Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, and Princess Mononoke.

Courtesy of Lincolncenterfestival.org

Courtesy of Lincolncenterfestival.org

July 13-17

Kanze Noh Theatre

Rose Theater, Broadway at West 60th Street, 5F

$30-$125 

In the enigmatic Japanese dramas of Noh, ancient stories from classical Japanese literature and oral traditions come to life in a sublime, ritualized blend of poetry, music, drama, and dance. The divide between the natural and supernatural is bridged as spirits and humans interact in a world rife with symbolism. The nearly 700-year-old dramatic form—known to many for its highly stylized masks and elegantly simple set featuring a single pine tree—is one of the world’s oldest continuously performed genres of performance art and was recently designated an “Intangible Cultural Heritage” by UNESCO. Kiyokazu Kanze—the 26th Grand Master of the Kanze School and a descendent of the founder of Noh—brings the profound lyricism and aesthetic elegance of this ancient dramatic art form to New York as part of this year’s Lincoln Center Festival. A special lecture and demonstration by Kiyokazu Kanze will be held July 12 at Japan Society; click here for more info and tickets.

'Bakuman' © 2015 TOHO  Amuse  DENTSU  SHUEISHA  Victor  KDDI  GYAO  Crescendo  NIPPAN  JR Kikaku  LINE © Tsugumi Oba, Takeshi Obata  SHUEISHA All Rights Reserved.

‘Bakuman’ © 2015 TOHO Amuse DENTSU SHUEISHA Victor KDDI GYAO Crescendo NIPPAN JR Kikaku LINE © Tsugumi Oba, Takeshi Obata SHUEISHA All Rights Reserved.

July 14-24

JAPAN CUTS 2016

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$10-$20 (single screenings)

North America’s largest festival of new Japanese film returns for its 10th anniversary edition, offering eleven days of impossible-to-see-anywhere-else screenings of the best new movies made in and around Japan with special guest filmmakers and stars, post-screening Q&As, parties, giveaways and much more. With special guests such as Lily Franky, Atsuko Maeda and Sion Sono, this year’s festival guest list is the largest in history, and includes directors, stars, producers and more. Make sure to also check out this year’s expanded DOCUMENTARY FOCUS and EXPERIMENTAL SPOTLIGHT sections. Venture out of the mainstream to discover new work by some of Japan’s most vital and interesting nonfiction and avant-garde practitioners. The experimental lineup is dedicated to animation, offering vibrant short-form alternatives to the ubiquitous anime for which Japan is so famous.

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Jun 23
Click image to view story

Click image to view issue

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
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 5
"When it comes to art, there’s always a certain level of intensity that I like, because I like seriousness—especially when it comes to an almost religious seriousness in doing music or art for a higher presence. I love that about Japanese aesthetics." (Armando Zamora)

“When it comes to art, there’s always a certain level of intensity that I like, because I like seriousness—especially when it comes to an almost religious seriousness in doing music or art for a higher presence. I love that about Japanese aesthetics.” (Armando Zamora)

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

People from all over the world come to New York to launch their careers in entertainment. But can you do so in the world of Japanese music?

Patrick Bartley has. A Florida native who was inspired at a young age by the sounds of classic video game scores like Sonic the Hedgehog and Streets of Rage, Bartley came to New York to study at the Manhattan School of Music and later formed the J-MUSIC Ensemble, an multi-instrumental group that mixes the various genres that make up the Japanese music scene. A Grammy-nominated saxophonist and composer with a jazz background, Bartley formed the group as a way to express his admiration for the music he first discovered through video games, anime themes and J-pop classics.

The J-MUSIC Ensemble is currently recording their debut album, and their numerous live performances over the past year have led to this week’s release of the band’s first-ever single, FUTUREBOUND, available May 6. The group is celebrating with a special launch party performance that night at Shrine World Music Venue in Manhattan, followed by a performance at ShapeShifer Lab in Brooklyn May 8 with Tokyo electronic music pioneer Coppé and recording artist Kaoru Watanabe.

Keeping busy as a fulltime musician, Bartley has performed with artists as diverse as Wynton Marsalis, Steve Miller and Igor Butman, and earlier this year he bantered on-camera with Stephen Colbert for a taping of The Late Show as a guest with house band Jon Batiste and Stay Human. En route to another gig earlier this year, JQ caught up with him over falafel in Harlem for this exclusive interview.

What should readers know about the J-MUSIC Ensemble?

Even though we feature singers, when you go to a J-MUSIC Ensemble concert, you’re going to experience the music you’re used to hearing in a totally different way, because we put the horns in the front line in the same positions as singers. We want you to feel the horns just as powerfully as you would hear the other elements like the dancing and the singing. But this time, you’re putting the music under a microscope and really giving you the full experience. We’re also taking these songs and putting improvisational elements into it—we’re taking a microscope and putting jazz elements into it. But at the same time, we’re keeping the core essence of the music. We’re not just playing jazz songs; we’re taking the jazz mentality. We’re still playing rock. We’re still playing funk. We’re still playing pop. We still feel that exact feeling, but with a human element—live instruments and live bands performing it. There’s really nothing like it.

What projects are you and the J-MUSIC Ensemble working on at the moment?

The most recent thing we’re excited about is our single release on May 6. With this, people can finally get real, downloadable audio files to keep with them no matter what, and in high quality! We spent a great deal of time and invested a lot to get this working, and the mixes and masters turned out great. Other than this, the band itself is really the project. The way I think of this, project-wise, is I’m constantly looking at this huge, vast sea of Japanese music, art, and cultural history—and I often find myself asking the question, “Where do I start?” So, in that regard, I usually pick what I think can work best for the band, so that we can spend time developing our sound and finding what our natural tendencies are, you know? As well as just what the optimal horn sounds are, and if stuff is electronic, I have to figure out what’s possible to play live with real instruments. Right now, we’ve found that [J-pop band] Perfume is perfect for our instrumentation, so we’re going to keep exploring that, mainly, until we continue to find our sound.

How has Japan influenced your music?

The way Japan has influenced my music has been through understanding the history of the country. And even though I really haven’t gone there, I observe as much as I can, such as the intensity by which they operate on a day-to-day basis in everything. When it comes to art, there’s always a certain level of intensity that I like, because I like seriousness—especially when it comes to an almost religious seriousness in doing music or art for a higher presence. Like actually taking it seriously and creating something that no matter what creates deep emotions and passions.

I love that about Japanese aesthetics. That always has touched me and I think I’ll never really forget it. And then there’s the language, too. It’s a totally different way of thinking, so it’s influenced the way I think about rhythm.

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Apr 25
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.


Apr 3
Jewels of Kyoto perform Matsu Zukushi, characterized by the use of fans with a pine branch design, which represents the courage, determination and fidelity of a woman. (Eden Law)

Jewels of Kyoto performed Matsu Zukushi in Sydney Feb. 23. This dance is characterized by the use of fans with a pine branch design, which represents the courage, determination and fidelity of a woman. (Eden Law)

 

By Eden Law (Fukushima-ken, 2010-11) for JQ magazine. Eden currently serves Country Representative for Australia and President of JETAA New South Wales.

Jewels of Kyoto was a tour of Australia and New Zealand by a group of geiko and maiko from Kyoto’s Gion district, sponsored by Japan Foundation, which ran from February 23 to March 5. Commenting for this article were Ms. Ayusa Koshi from Japan Foundation and two members of the tour group: Mr. Katsuroku-shisho of Ochaya Tomikiku, who instructs its maiko and geiko in traditional music, and Ms. Tomitae, a maiko also of Ochaya Tomikiku.

The geisha is one of the most recognisable cultural images of Japan, a symbol of the grace and beauty in Japanese traditional culture that is popular domestically and internationally. But seeing a real geisha (defined as someone who has undergone the requisite training in song, dance and social arts) is rare, and these days found only in very few places in Japan. Kyoto, of course, is best known as the place to spot geisha (or geiko, as they are known locally), and maiko (apprentice geiko) hurrying down the narrow cobbled streets of kagai (or geiko districts) in full traditional gear. As explained by Koshi, manager of Japan Foundation’s Arts and Culture Department: “Watching a geisha perform isn’t as simple as purchasing a ticket to a kabuki show. Traditionally, their artistic services were exclusive to the wealthy [who possess] the right connections, and this custom lingered until recent years.”

This is why the debut of the Jewels of Kyoto tour in Sydney was met with enthusiasm, selling out the nearly 400-seat capacity Lendlease Darling Quarter Theatre in Darling Harbour. Featuring a performance of traditional song, dance and party games (geiko are entertainers, after all) by a group of geiko and maiko, it was made possible by a collaboration between Japan Foundation and Ms. Reiko Tomimori, a prominent figure in Kyoto’s geiko world. Apart from the main stars (the geiko Hinagiku and Ryoka, and the maiko Tomitae and Tomitsuyu), there are other musicians and accompanying props and costumes.

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Mar 27
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.


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