Mar 27

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.

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:

GKIDS

March 25-29

My Neighbor Totoro 35th Anniversary

Various locations

$15-$20

The inaugural selection of Ghibli Fest 2023, this classic tale from Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki serves up magic and adventure for the whole family. When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children. Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride aboard the extraordinary Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece featuring the voices of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning, in early roles. Presented in both English-language and Japanese subtitled versions (March 28 only).

Courtesy of Carnegiehall.org

Thursday, April 6, 7:30 p.m.

Masayo Ishigure, Koto, Bass Koto, and Shamisen

Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, 881 7th Avenue

$40-$50

Masayo Ishigure Koto and Shamisen Recital commemorates the 30th anniversary of the veteran koto and shamisen performer’s professional career in the U.S.! Program selections include: “Sakura/The Moon over the Deserted Castle” A masterpiece representing Japan composed by Tadao Sawai. “Ginga (Galaxy)” by Tadao Sawai, using Okinawan melody, is performed on koto and shamisen. “(untitled) ” composed by Zac Zinger for koto, piano, and shakuhachi, each instrument partially improvises like often heard in Jazz music. “Gin-yu-ka (Minstrel Song)”, a powerful ensemble of six koto players composed by Hikaru Sawai “Chizuru/ Whereabouts of the Wind” by Hideaki Matsumoto, a relatively new Koto and piano piece. “Flying like a Bird”, composed by Tadao Sawai, will be the last piece of the recital. The piece, using all the techniques the composer could think of at that time, is one of the milestone of 20th century Koto music, and definitely worth listening to. The history of Japanese music can be seen in this program, which can be enjoyed by a wide range of audiences.

r. nihiline

April 6-8, 8:00 p.m. 

Joan Laage/Kogut Butoh: Rivers Running Red

Triskelion Arts, 106 Calyer Street (Brooklyn)

$20 

Rivers Running Red is a homage to the female body and menstruation. The piece is inspired by an article exposing the practice in certain traditional societies of sending women off to the mountains to remain in huts and, all too often not surviving the harsh conditions. This practice is fueled by the belief that women are unclean while menstruating. It is also a reflection on this monthly cycle being celebrated as a sacred passage in other cultures. Vangeline Theater will open the show with an excerpt of The Slowest WaveThe Slowest Wave investigates through the use of scalp EEG how brain waves during Butoh dancing compare to those emitted during other conscious or unconscious motor behaviors, such as speaking or meditating. Moreover, the study will elucidate the functional neural networks of the dancers and the neural synchrony within and between them. This project is meant to foster connections and understanding between dancers, artists, scientists, engineers, and audiences from around the world.

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Feb 28

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Shinkai’s ‘Suzume’ Premiere, Baryshnikov’s ‘The Hunting Gun,’ Nemophila Rocks Gramercy

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. e. 

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

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Nyicff.org

March 3-19, Various Times

New York International Children’s Film Festival

Various Locations

Get $2.00 off tickets with the code JQ2023 at nyicff.org/tickets

New York International Children’s Film Festival is back—and back in theaters—with an all-new slate of the best films from around the world for kids and families.  Check out the highly anticipated new release Suzume, and many Japanese short films featured in the lineup–like the delightfully animated Konigiri-Kun Parasol in Shorts for Tots (ages 3-6). Japanese selections include:

Suzume (for ages 12+)

•           March 5, 5 PM @ SVA

North American premiere! From the director of the acclaimed Your Name. (NYICFF 2017). On the other side of the door, was time in its entirety…As the skies turn red and the earth trembles, Japan stands on the brink of disaster. But one determined teenager, Suzume, sets out on a mission to save her country. Able to see the supernatural forces that others can’t, it’s up to her to close the mysterious doors spreading chaos across the land. A perilous journey awaits as the fate of the country rests on her shoulders.

Courtesy of 2023.jazz.org

March 10-11, 8:00 p.m.

The Music of Toshiko Akiyoshi

Rose Theater – Jazz at Lincoln Center, Broadway & West 60th Street

$40.50-$170.50

For The Music of Toshiko Akiyoshi with The JLCO with Wynton Marsalis and special guest Lew Tabackin, The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra with Wynton Marsalis play the monumental compositions of the iconic pianist-composer Toshiko Akiyoshi, as they are joined by her on stage for part of the performance. Akiyoshi has been a force on the international scene since 1952, and has impressed critics and audiences alike for the comprehensive mastery and fierce distillation of the language of bebop master Bud Powell that she was able to assimilate early on, and for her evocative corpus of sui generis works since 1973 for the Akiyoshi-Tabackin Orchestra with Lew Tabackin (who will play tenor saxophone and flute on this evening), combining swing, bebop, classical, and elements drawn from her Japanese heritage. There will be a free pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m. for each performance.

© Illustration by Yui Suzuki

Monday, March 13, 7:30 p.m.

I’m Trying to Understand You, But…

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$15, $12 members

The 17th installment of Japan Society’s annual Play Reading Series introduces topical plays from up-and-coming playwrights in Japan to artists and audiences in the U.S.NYC-based director NJ Agwuna, winner of the 2022 Barbara Whitman Award, tackles Yuri Yamada’s timely play I’m Trying to Understand You, But… In this piece, Yamada portrays a dicey conversation between a young couple that starts as an unintended pregnancy reveal and ends in a gender-swapped discussion about how the incident came about. Two maids named Libby and Prudie give running commentary throughout the couple’s heart-to-heart. Two-time Kishida Kunio Drama Award-nominee Yamada joins in a post-show Q&A with the audience and director.

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Dec 1

JQ Magazine: Holiday Lanterns, ‘Evangelion’ Finale, 8-Bit Big Band

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.

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:

Courtesy of Winterlanternfestival.com

Now through Jan. 8

NYC Winter Lantern Festival

Various locations

$12.00-$50.00

The annual Winter Lantern Festival is back to transform your neighborhood into an immersive world of light Journey to the East with friends and family at SIUH Community Park in Staten Island to explore the wonders of over 1,000 Chinese lanterns; all handmade by artisans. Queens County Farm welcomes visitors an unforgettable radiant oasis with friends and family as we Illuminate the Farm. Located at Nassau County Museum of Art in Long Island, Winter Lantern Festival’s Drive Thru Adventure in Roslyn will dazzle your friends and family as you roll through acres of luminance! Finally, night the light this holiday season! The Winter Lantern Festival at Smithtown Historical Society in Suffolk County will feature lanterns and displays ranging from mushrooms and flowers to farm animals to dinosaurs; all handmade by artisans with decades of dedication to their craft. Be ready for photo-ops with friends and family as this will be an unforgettable experience!

“Makura Jido” © Yutaka Ishida

Dec. 1-3, 7:30 p.m.

Kotei (The Emperor) | Makura Jido (Chrusanthemum Boy)

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$95, $76 members (performance + soirée); $72, $58 members (performance only)

Prominent members from the Kita Noh School, including Akiyo Tomoeda, Living National Treasure designated by the Japanese government, perform two works from noh theater’s classical repertoire: Kotei (The Emperor) on Dec. 1 and 3, and Makura Jido (Chrysanthemum Boy) on Dec. 2—two pieces meant to be a prayer to hasten the end of the pandemic and celebrate health and longevity. Set in the Tang Dynasty in China, Kotei tells the story of the deity Shoki, who rescues the ailing Empress Yang Guifei and pledges his allegiance to Emperor Xuanzong. Also set in China, Makura Jido is about a boy who has joyfully lived for 700 years by drinking an immortal elixir from the dew of a chrysanthemum leaf. The boy reveals that the dew has created a pool in the valley, which has become the headspring for medicinal water. Performed in Japanese with English supertitles. A ticketed soirée follows the Dec. 1 performance. An artist Q&A follows the Dec. 2 performance.

“Top Stripper” (C) 1982 NIKKATSU

 Dec. 2-11, various times

Yoshimitsu Morita Retrospective

Film at Lincoln Center, 70 Lincoln Center Plaza #4

$10-$65

Across a 30-plus-year career, Yoshimitsu Morita (1950–2011) amassed one of the most fascinatingly idiosyncratic and prolific bodies of work in modern Japanese cinema. From his irreverently comic 1981 Something Like It to his 1983 breakout black comedy, The Family Game (presented in an all-new 4K remaster), to forays into melodrama (And Then, 1985), the hard-boiled film (Deaths in Tokimeki, 1984), the pink film/roman porno (Top Stripper, 1982), horror (The Black House, 1999), and romantic drama (Haru, 1996), Morita’s work is marked by an incomparable sensitivity to the peaks and valleys of the inner landscape of Japanese society, a penchant for subtle injections of surreality to highlight the absurdity of certain aspects of Japanese life, an omnipresent sense of irony, and a boldly iconoclastic approach to visual composition. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles. Select screenings feature an introduction by producer Kazuko Misawa and composer Michiru Oshima.

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Sep 27

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Ghibli, J-Rock, Japan Society Shows

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 all through Halloween.

This month’s highlights include:

GKIDS

Sept. 25-28

Howl’s Moving Castle

Various locations/prices

The penultimate pick for this year’s Studio Ghibli Fest is an Academy Award-nominated fantasy adventure for the whole family from acclaimed director Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away). Sophie, a quiet girl working in a hat shop, finds her life thrown into turmoil when she is literally swept off her feet by a handsome but mysterious wizard named Howl. The vain and vengeful Witch of the Waste, jealous of their friendship, puts a curse on Sophie and turns her into a 90-year-old woman. On a quest to break the spell, Sophie climbs aboard Howl’s magnificent moving castle and into a new life of wonder and adventure. The Sept. 25, 27 and 28th screenings are dubbed in English, and the Sept. 26 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Elektra Music Group

Friday, Sept. 30, 7:30 p.m.

ONE OK ROCK

Hammerstein Ballroom at Manhattan Center, 311 West 34th Street

$60-$132.50

Beloved at home in Japan and worldwide, Fueled By Ramen band ONE OK ROCK have released their anxiously awaited new full-length album, Luxury Disease (stream it HERE). Featuring the lead single “Save Yourself” (see the Tanu Muino-directed video on the band’s YouTube channel), additional album highlights include “Let Me Let You Go,” and “Vandalize,” which will serve as the ending theme for SEGA’s upcoming game Sonic Frontiers, releasing on November 8. Produced by Rob Cavallo (Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance), Luxury Diseasefinds ONE OK ROCK embarking on a North American headline tour which will see the group returning to stages in the U.S. and Canada for the first time in over three years.

Courtesy of jrocknews.com

Saturday, Oct. 8, 7:30 p.m.

MIYAVI

Le Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street

$30-$100

Celebrating his 20th year in the music industry, MIYAVI embarks on a 20-city tour across the U.S. and Canada. In this intimate venue, the samurai guitarist known for his unconventional style of guitar playing—performing not with a pick, but with his fingers in a method dubbed “slap style”— plans to perform fan-favorite tracks, material from last year’s Imaginary LP, and new music he will be debuting live for the first time!

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Aug 23

Posted by Tom Baker (Chiba, 1989-91)

U.S. President Joe Biden is set to visit Hiroshima next spring, when Japan hosts the Group of Seven summit. All of Biden’s recent predecessors have also visited Japan at some point.

Amazingly, the first presidential visit happened way back in 1879, when Ulysses Grant spent the summer in Japan shortly after leaving office. He met an array of Japanese historical figures, including Eiichi Shibusawa and Emperor Meiji.

I recently spent a day exploring Tokyo in Grant’s footsteps. Here’s what I found.



Aug 19

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — August Anime Roundup

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 both cutting-edge and classic anime, this month offers a diverse trio of theatrical premieres—all in the comfort of indoor air conditioning.

This month’s highlights include:

©2021 “INU-OH” Film Partners

Opens Aug. 12

Inu-oh

For Village East by Angelika screenings, click here

From visionary director Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, Ride Your Wave), hailed by IndieWire as “one of the most creatively unbridled minds in all of modern animation,” comes a revisionist rock opera about a 14th-century superstar whose dance moves take Japan by storm. Born to an esteemed family, Inu-oh is afflicted with an ancient curse that has left him on the margins of society. When he meets the blind musician Tomona, a young biwa priest haunted by his past, Inu-oh discovers a captivating ability to dance. The pair quickly become business partners and inseparable friends as crowds flock to their electric, larger-than-life concerts. But when those in power threaten to break up the band, Inu-oh and Tomona must dance and sing to uncover the truth behind their creative gifts. Featuring character creation by Taiyo Matsumoto (Tekkonkinkreet, “Ping Pong the Animation”) and awe-inspiring vocals by Avu-chan (Queen Bee) and Mirai Moriyama, Inu-oh is a glam-rock ode to the power of music and a forceful statement on artistic freedom from one of animation’s singular talents. All screenings are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

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Nov 30

JQ Magazine: Fathom Events Bring ‘Totoro’, ‘Macross’ to the Big Screen

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.

A longtime partner of classic and current theatrical anime releases, Fathom Events is showcasing two enormously influential films in theaters nationwide this month that were first screened in the U.S. a generation ago.

© 1988 Studio Ghibli

Kicking things off as a capper to this year’s Studio Ghibli Fest 2021, My Neighbor Totoro returns to the big screen Dec. 5, 6 and 9. Directed by Academy Award-winning legend Hayao Miyazaki, the titular Totoro is a gigantic but gentle forest spirit who can only be seen by children. When the young Satuski and her sister Mei move to a new home in the countryside with their father, Totoro and his friends introduce the girls to a series of adventures, including a ride in the extraordinary Cat Bus!

Originally released in U.S. theaters in 1993, this edition features exclusive bonus content. The 2005 English-language dub screenings on Dec. 5 and 9 feature the voices of Tim Daly, Lea Salonga, and real-life sisters Dakota and Elle Fanning. With over $1 billion from licensed merchandise sales worldwide and a top spot on many “best animated film ever” lists, don’t miss your chance to catch this unforgettable tale of magic an adventure for the whole family!

© 1995 BIGWEST/MACROSS PLUS PROJECT #MacrossPlus_US

From the past to the not-too-distant future comes Macross Plus Movie Edition, a theatrical sequel to the groundbreaking Macross (Robotech in the U.S.) 1980s TV staple. Originially released a four-part video series in the mid-’90s, Macross Plus features a Who’s Who of anime talent: Directed by series creator Shoji Kawamori and Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop), music by the legendary Yoko Kanno (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex), and the vocal talent of Megumi Hayashibara (too many to mention), among others.

In this one-night-only (Dec. 14, subtitled) theatrical event, viewers will be transported to the year 2040 on the distant planet Eden, where former childhood friends Isamu Dyson and Guld Bowman face off in both love and war as mecha fighters and potential suitors for Myung Fang Lone, who has returned as the manager of Sharon Apple, an artificial intelligence pop star and the galaxy’s biggest singing sensation—which becomes self-aware and takes control of the Macross battle fortress itself!

For all upcoming Fathom Events anime screenings and tickets, visit www.fathomevents.com/categories/anime.


Nov 16

JQ Magazine: Anime NYC Returns with Special Screenings, Exclusive Guest Panels

© Anime NYC • All Rights Reserved.

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.

Live gatherings are back, and over 50,000 fans are expected to attend Anime NYC later this month, a three-day showcase of the best of Japanese pop culture, exclusive screenings, talks with iconic creators and industry leaders, Japanese games, and incredible live concerts.

Highlights from this year’s programming include:

FRIDAY, NOV. 19

  • Funimation Presents Attack on Titan Final Season (4:30-5:30PM)
    Celebrate the end of Attack on Titan with two lead cast members on stage. Join Bryce Papenbrook (English voice of Eren Jaeger) and Jason Liebrecht (English voice of Zeke Jaeger) as they discuss their characters and their complex relationship, particularly during Attack on Titan Final Season Part 1 and the upcoming Attack on Titan Final Season Part 2.
  • Shinji Aramaki Panel (5:00-5:45PM)

Shinji Aramaki is a film director and mechanical designer who will be conducting a rare live appearance. He has been directing anime films since the 1980s and is currently working on the CG anime series Blade Runner: Black Lotus (co-directed with Kenji Kamiyama) which will appear on Adult Swim and Crunchyroll.

SATURDAY, NOV. 20

  • Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Special Event (12:00-1:30PM)
    Aniplex of America is proud to present all three lead voice actors on a stage for the first time this year! Join special guests Zach Aguilar (Tanjiro Kamado), Aleks Le (Zenitsu Agatsuma), and Bryce Papenbrook (Inouske Hashibira) and look back on the TV series and Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Movie: Mugen Train, plus the new Demon Slayer -Kimetsu no Yaiba- The Hinokami Chronicles game.
  • Lupin the 3rd: Prison of the Past (3:30-5:30PM)

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the gentleman thief Lupin’s first animated series with a trivia contest hosted by the dub cast along with awesome prizes and a world premiere screening.

SUNDAY, NOV. 21

  • Pompo The Cinephile (12:00-1:30PM)

East Coast premiere! A rollicking, exuberant ode to the power of the movies and the joys and heartbreak of the creative process, as a new director and his team devote their lives to the pursuit of a “masterpiece.”

  • BELLE (2:30- 5:00PM)

See a special advance screening of Mamoru Hosoda’s biggest film ever, BELLE, before it hits theaters early next year. When shy, everyday high school student Suzu enters “U,” a massive virtual world, she escapes into her online persona as popular idol singer Belle. When a mysterious “beast” enters her world, she embarks on an emotional quest to discover its identity—and her true self in the process.

Anime NYC takes place at Javits Center, 655 West 34th Street, Nov. 19-21. Click here for a complete list of programming. For tickets and more information, visit https://animenyc.com.


Oct 22

Posted by: Doug Tassin (Fukushima-Ken ALT, 2007-2010 & Krewe of Japan Podcast Co-Host)

DOUBLE TROUBLE (aka whoops I forgot to post last week…)

Last week on the Krewe of Japan Podcast

The Krewe (shonen) jumps into the world of manga! Nigel, Jennifer, & Doug provide an intro to manga for those unfamiliar with it, notable characteristics, and why you should consider picking up a volume and read. Afterwards, they sit down with Danica Davidson, author of 17 books & frequent manga journalist for Otaku USA & other major publications, to discuss her career path, the manga industry, & things you may not have known regarding the manga scene!

This week…

Strap in for a wild ride as the Krewe talks Japanese theme parks! Nigel, Jennifer, & Doug all share their own experiences and favorite parks around the country. Then, Chris Nilghe of TDR Explorer joins us to talk all things theme parks! Tokyo Disney vs. Universal Studios Japan… who wins? Chris shares his top tips & tricks, along with some great insider knowledge for planning any theme park-based trip in Japan!

The Krewe of Japan Podcast is a weekly episodic podcast sponsored by the Japan Society of New Orleans. Check them out every Friday afternoon around noon CST on Apple, Google, Spotify, Amazon, and Stitcher.  Want to share your experiences with the Krewe? Or perhaps you have ideas for episodes, feedback, comments, or questions? Let the Krewe know by e-mail at kreweofjapanpodcast@gmail.com or on social media (Twitter: @kreweofjapan, Instagram: @kreweofjapanpodcast, Facebook: Krewe of Japan Podcast Page, & the Krewe of Japan Youtube Channel). Until next time, enjoy!


Dec 8

JQ Magazine: LuminoCity Festival Lights Up New York

LC

By Vlad Baranenko (Saitama-ken, 2000-02) for JQ magazine. Vlad is an avid photographer.

Returning for its second year, the New York City-based holiday light show LuminoCity Festival brings outdoor family-friendly fun to Randall’s Island Park now through January 10. This walking journey takes visitors to distinctly themed sets and dreamlike worlds through a wonderland of fantastical ancient civilizations, lush luminated jungles, and mystical towering light art displays (with opportunities to pick up warm treats and special gifts). At the heart of it are three brilliantly sparkling Christmas trees, creating the perfect backdrop for holiday and Instagram fans alike. JQ caught up with LuminoCity founder Xiaoyi Chen to learn more.

Please tell us about the history of LuminoCity in NYC. From where do you draw your inspiration?

The story of LuminoCity goes back to my time as a student at Pratt Institute here in the city. I’ve always had a love for art and knew that I eventually wanted to create a brand. Originally, I am from Zigong, which is a city located in China that is famous for their annual lantern festival. Through LuminoCity, I was able to combine my interest in art with my cultural background to create a new festival experience. From a business perspective, we chose to stage LuminoCity in New York City because there is a strong market here for large-scale events and the city is a robust economic center.

What is the theme for this year’s light festival?

We drew inspiration for this year’s theme from my travels to South America. This year’s presentation includes distinctly themed sets and dreamlike worlds. There are many different types of light sculptures including lush foliage inspired by the rainforest, whimsical animals, and glittering crystals. At the center of the adventure is Lumi, a magical light bulb and the host of the festival.

Are there any Japan or Asia-related attractions or vendors that this year’s guests can enjoy? 

We have two food vendors who sell Asian cuisine: C Bao (@cbaoasianbuns) and Tojo’s Kitchen (@tojosankitchen).

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Nov 17

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Home (Media) for the Holidays

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 fall turns to winter, some spiffed up favorites, holiday hits and new discoveries are coming your way to close out the year.

This season’s highlights include:

VIZ Media

Available Nov. 17

Mermaid Saga Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1

392 pp, $24.99

From Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame inductee Rumiko Takahashi, the legendary creator of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha! Yuta became immortal when he unwittingly ate mermaid flesh, and now he seeks a way to become human again. Hundreds of years later, he encounters a volatile and determined young lady named Mana while searching for a mermaid. Could this mysterious woman hold the key to saving Yuta’s humanity?

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Oct 27

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘The Japanese Sake Bible’

“While reading The Japanese Sake Bible, you’ll probably feel overwhelmed. But you’ll leave amazed at the journey of ‘Japan’s gift to the world of drinks.'” (Tuttle Publishing)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10; Kochi-ken, 2018-2020) for JQ magazine. A former head of JETAA Philadelphia’s 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.

Maybe it’s a bit too strong for your liking. Or maybe it contributed to an unpleasant hangover. But it’s quite possible it was a part of your JET experience.

I’m talking about sake. Anyone curious about what they might have been sipping at an enkai would do well to pick up The Japanese Sake Bible. Compiled by Kotaku Senior Contributing Editor Brian Ashcraft, this comprehensive work examines the world of sake—most notably its origins, its rise to becoming “Japan’s National bBeverage” (coincidentally the title of the first chapter), and tips on how to make the drink yourself. 

True to its name, Ashcraft creates a book heavy on history. It’s clear upon looking at the first page of the aforementioned first chapter that this Bible will be more or less Sake 101 (oddly enough, the origins of sake were addressed not at the beginning of the book, but in chapter five). Although the author presents a lot of facts that will probably go over readers’ heads, he excels at thoroughly explaining in detail topics like the definition of sake, which is legally defined as being filtered from fermented rice, koji and water, and the differences between sake, wine and beer.

Although the book is in large part an introduction to the drink, it also serves as a guide for aspiring, if not full-fledged, sake connoisseurs. Ashcraft (also the author of Japanese Whisky) presents to readers more categories of sake than one might have thought actually existed: there’s well-polished sake, sparkling sake, and raw and unprocessed sake. Also, niche sake that might not be easy to find. 

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Oct 12

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Pure Invention’

How did Japanese pop culture become such a dominant force across the globe? Matt Alt answers that question and more in Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World. (Crown)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10; Kochi-ken, 2018-2020) for JQ magazine. A former head of JETAA Philadelphia’s 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.

Nintendo, karaoke, Miyazaki, manga, Pokémon. Those names resonate with so many people all over the world as Japanese pop culture, which has become a significant tool in promoting the country. After all, many people feel like they know Japan through what they’ve seen on TV, in the movies, etc. They can also enrich and add joy to our lives.

But how did Japanese pop culture become such a dominant force across the globe? Tokyo-based writer, translator and reporter Matt Alt answers that question and more in Pure Invention: How Japan’s Pop Culture Conquered the World by illuminating brands and names that have seemingly made Japan an epicenter of coolness.

Of course, seemingly everything in Japan has a long history, so why would various forms of pop culture be any different? Unsurprisingly, chapter one of Pure Invention is devoted to the very first manufactured item to emerge from the ashes of World War II, which was a toy jeep. It’s fascinating to read about the backstory of the toy’s creator (Matsuzo Kosuge) and creation, as “jeep” was one of the first English words that Japanese kids mastered in the postwar years. Despite this influence, it is the story of a product that, in Alt’s words, was largely forgotten. 

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Oct 12

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Healing Labor’

Healing Labor reveals that there’s more than meets the eye for those who have spent a night out in a seedy Japanese neighborhood.” (Stanford University Press)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10; Kochi-ken, 2018-2020) for JQ magazine. A former head of JETAA Philadelphia’s 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.

Modern Japan is a huge market for sex.

That statement probably isn’t surprising to those who have spent a night out in certain parts of Tokyo. But this is a reality for people who devote a lot of time to sex work.

Gabriele Koch tackles that statement and more in her examination of Japanese sex workers in Healing Labor: Japanese Sex Work in the Gendered Economy. Koch, an assistant professor of anthropology at Yale-NUS College, conducted 21 months of ethnographic fieldwork in Tokyo from 2008 to 2013 (she also gathered information from additional trips to the metropolis in 2016 and 2017). During her fieldwork, the author explored sites connected to the sex industry as well as diverse groups of people involved in it. Koch would seemingly have had plenty of opportunities to do so: according to research she cited in the book, roughly 22,000 legal sex industry businesses are in operation in Japan.  

The information in Healing Labor (a term used to illustrate the view many sex workers have of the reparative aspects of their care since it’s ostensibly vital to any success in the male-gendered economy) is largely qualitative, so Koch doesn’t heavily rely on statistics. But she does use numbers to illustrate the risks for sex workers at Tokyo deriheru (an escort business in which a sex worker is sent to a hotel, rental room or private residence): mainly, in that instance, the relatively low condom use by male patrons.

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Sep 13

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Fall Reading Roundup

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.

With live events still on hold, the weeks ahead are serving up some solid post-summer reading, ready to be enjoyed at home or on the go.

This month’s highlights include:

VIZ Media

Available Sept. 15

A Rumiko Takahashi Classic Returns

Maison Ikkoku Collector’s Edition, Vol. 1

344 pp, $24.99

For the first time in more than a decade comes a new expanded edition of the fan favorite romantic comedy about finding your path in life from Rumiko Takahashi, the legendary creator of Ranma 1/2 and Inuyasha! Twenty-year-old Yusaku Godai didn’t get accepted into college on the first try, so he’s studying to retake the entrance exams. However, living in a dilapidated building full of eccentric and noisy (to put it mildly) tenants is making it hard for him to achieve his goals. Now that the beautiful Kyoko Otonashi has moved in to become the new resident manager, Godai is driven to distraction!

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