Nov 30

“Finding one’s home is often an experience. If told correctly, its story can be thrilling. The View from Breast Pocket Mountain will captivate those eager to learn more about gaikokujin who have made a home in Japan.” (Karen Hill Anton)

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

There are gaikokujin whose journey to Japan is quite an adventure. One of them is Karen Hill Anton. She takes readers on a tour of her unconventional life in The View from Breast Pocket Mountain: A Memoir (the mountain is the translated name of the area home of her and her husband’s farmhouse). This is a life that sees her become a columnist for two Japanese newspapers as part of a 45-year (and counting) history with her adoptive country.

Anton’s story starts in New York City, where she grew up in a tenement apartment. The author spends most of the early chapters telling stories of life in the city. Her father often struggled to find work (but did so occasionally as a presser) while her mother was institutionalized. View really takes off when Anton details the period when she traveled outside the United States for the first time. Her adventures took her around Europe (often getting around the Old Continent by sticking her thumb out), where she hung out with a cast of colorful characters, including Swedish painter and textile artist Moki Karlsson, the mother of Swedish music star Neneh Cherry.

The European portion of the book includes more than anecdotes involving interesting figures she met. Anton adroitly captures the vibe of not just a bygone era, but apparently a different planet from the United States—writing that it’s “common sense” in Denmark (where she gave birth to her first child) to put babies outside. You get the sense that she’s completely in tune with her surroundings there as she includes other fascinating tidbits about the Scandinavian country. Through her writing, she comes across as someone who can feel at home almost anywhere.

Read More
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. 

Read More
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. 

Read More
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.

Read More
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!

Read More
Apr 28

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Issei Baseball’

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

The first professional baseball game involving a team of Japanese players took place in Frankfort, Kansas.

Yes, you read that correctly. That fact—and many other interesting tidbits—appear in Mashi author Robert K. Fitts’ new book Issei Baseball: The Story of the First Japanese American Ballplayers, which chronicles the birth of Japanese American baseball as well as several key figures in its growth. Those figures color the early chapters, as Fitts doesn’t jump right into the tours embarked upon by Japanese American teams.

We’re treated to the stories of pioneers such as Harry Saisho, the creator of a club named the Japanese Base Ball Association (which canvassed the Midwest in 1911), Tozan Masko, the co-founder of the Mikado team (the world’s first Japanese-run professional club), and Isoo Abe, the manager Waseda University’s baseball club and organizer of its U.S. tour in 1905.

Speaking of the famous Tokyo university, Fitts devotes most of the book’s fifth and sixth chapters to that cross-country jaunt.

Read More
Mar 4

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Dai Fujikura, ‘Tokyo Godfathers,’ Japan Nite

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobeshi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

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

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Millertheatre.com

Thursday, March 5, 8:00 p.m.

Dai Fujikura: Composer Portrait

Miller Theatre, 2960 Broadway

$7-$30

The works of Osaka-born Dai Fujikura are performed with regularity by conductors such as Gustavo Dudamel and by some of the most acclaimed orchestras and ensembles in the world. As one of the leading voices of his generation, his signature “high octane instrumental writing” (The Guardian) will be exhibited in this Portrait featuring International Contemporary Ensemble, longtime champions of Fujikura. A selection of recent chamber works provide a glimpse into his unique soundworld, including Minina—inspired by the birth of his daughter—and abandoned time, written for electric guitar and ensemble.

©-bozzo
©-bozzo

March 6-7, 7:30 p.m.

Fruits borne out of rust

Japan Society, 333 Easy 47th Street

$32, $25 members

Isolation, contagion and instability: Fruits borne out of rust, conceived of and directed by internationally known Japanese visual artist Tabaimo, uses drawings, video installations and live music to probe these unsettling themes that lurk beneath daily existence. Her intricate animations transform the stage into a wood floor apartment, a large birdcage that traps the dancer with a dove, and a line of tatami mats that swallows the dancer whole. Tabaimo’s collaborator, award-winning choreographer Maki Morishita, mischievously blends the subtle movements of the dancer’s fingers and toes with the dynamic drive of her limbs and torso, enhancing Tabaimo’s peculiar and introspective world. The March 6 performance is followed by a MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception. The March 7 performance is followed by an Artist Q&A.

GKIDS

March 9 & 11, 7:00 p.m.

Tokyo Godfathers

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC Kips Bay 15, 570 Second Avenue

$14-$20

Tokyo Godfathers, the acclaimed holiday classic from master director Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Perfect Blue), returns to theaters in a brand-new restoration. In modern-day Tokyo, three homeless people’s lives are changed forever when they discover a baby girl at a garbage dump on Christmas Eve. As the New Year fast approaches, these three forgotten members of society band together to solve the mystery of the abandoned child and the fate of her parents. Along the way, encounters with seemingly unrelated events and people force them to confront their own haunted pasts, as they learn to face their future, together. Co-written by Keiko Nobumoto (Cowboy Bebop) and featuring a whimsical score by Keiichi Suzuki, Tokyo Godfathers is a masterpiece by turns heartfelt, hilarious and highly original, a tale of hope and redemption in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. The March 9 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles, with the March 11 screening presented in English.

Read More
Feb 18

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — ‘Ride Your Wave,’ ‘Nourishing Japan,’ ‘Children of the Sea’

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobeshi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Stay warm this winter with some hot local events, from live showcases that will transport you to another time and place, some new anime screenings, and a theatrical performance you won’t want to miss. This month’s highlights include:

GKIDS

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 7:00 p.m.

Ride Your Wave

Various locations and prices

From visionary director Masaaki Yuasa (The Night is Short, Walk on Girl, Devilman Crybaby) comes a deeply emotional new film that applies his trademark visual ingenuity to a tale of romance, grief and self-discovery. Hinako is a surf-loving college student who has just moved to a small seaside town. When a sudden fire breaks out at her apartment building, she is rescued by Minato, a handsome firefighter, and the two soon fall in love. Just as they become inseparable, Minato loses his life in an accident at sea. Hinako is so distraught that she can no longer even look at the ocean, but one day she sings a song that reminds her of their time together, and Minato appears in the water. From then on, she can summon him in any watery surface as soon as she sings their song, but can the two really remain together forever? And what is the real reason for Minato’s sudden reappearance?

Courtesy of Nourishingjapan.com

Thursday, Feb. 20, 7:00 p.m.

Nourishing Japan: Food Education & School Lunch in Japan

MOFAD (Museum of Food and Drink), 62 Bayard Street (Brooklyn)

$25

Embark on a delicious journey from farmer’s field to school classroom that celebrates how one country has re-imagined school lunch and food education. At the heart of Japan’s 2005 Food Education Law are the incredible people whose daily work nourishes the next generation’s relationship to food, the earth, and one another. Join documentary filmmaker (and JET alumna) Alexis Agliano Sanborn (Shimane-ken, 2009-11) for the public premiere of this film. After the screening, Alexis will be joined in conversation with Yoriko Okamoto and Susan McCormac of JapanCultureNYC. Opening remarks will be given by Jennifer L. Pomeranz, Assistant Professor of Public Health Policy and Management at NYU. Reception with sake courtesy of SOTO and bites courtesy of Bessou and Kokoro Care Packages to follow.

GKIDS

Friday, Feb. 21, 6:30 p.m.

Children of the Sea

SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street

New York International Children’s Film Festival

Various locations

$17.50

East Coast premiere for the New York International Children’s Film Festival! Adapted from the acclaimed manga comes this visually dazzling, mind-bending aquatic mystery. Ruka’s dad is so absorbed in his studies at the aquarium that he hardly notices when she befriends Umi and Sora. Like Ruka, the mysterious duo has the unique ability to hear the call of the sea and its endangered creatures. Together, can they save them?

Read More
Jan 15

JQ Magazine: Film Review — ‘Weathering with You’

“With beautiful visuals and compelling characters, Weathering with You is a charming world you want to believe.” (GKIDS)

By A.A. Sanborn (Shimane-ken, 2009-11) for JQ magazine.

Sun Amid the Clouds

*Warning: This review contains spoilers

“Don’t interfere with the weather too much,” warns a fortune teller early on: “Messing with nature always has a cost.” As the title suggests, weather is the focus for writer/director Makoto Shinkai’s newest feature film Weathering with YouIt’s a tough act to follow after 2016’s Your Name, Shinkai’s previous work and the most commercially successful anime film of the last decade. Nevertheless, despite similarities in plot (adolescent romance, natural phenomena, and a sci-fi twist) the film offers a refreshing story which transports and delights.

We follow the friendship of Hodaka, a runaway from a remote island, and Hina, a girl with mysterious powers that temporarily conjure sunny skies. Hodaka is intent to find freedom in the big city, while Hina is just trying to get by. The number of scenes alone where characters resort to eating cheap instant ramen is an indicator that life is not going quite as planned. Still, adventure can be found just around the corner.

Soon after meeting, Hina and Hodaka start a business using Hina’s sun-producing powers. Their services are marketed to Tokyoites for weddings and outdoor events otherwise ruined by a rainy day. The sunny vignettes are one of the most charming aspects of the film, connecting it to a broader sense of space and community. Tokyo is no longer an anonymous megalopolis, but a city formed of friendships and relations.

Read More
Jan 14

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Dance at Japan Society, ‘Weathering with You,’ New York Times Travel Show

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobeshi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

Start the new year right by heading down to your local concert venue, 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:

© Ryuichiro Suzuki

Jan. 10-12, 14

The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$35, $30 members

Back by popular demand after his North American debut of Girl X in 2017 at Japan Society, Suguru Yamamoto, one of Japan’s hottest young playwright-directors and founder of theater company HANCHU-YUEI, returns with his latest one-man dance theater piece. The Unknown Dancer in the Neighborhood features Yamamoto’s signature directing style, in which characters’ thoughts are conveyed through projected words, alluding to the millennial generation’s preferred mode of communication—texting. Through movement, photography and colorful lighting, Yamamoto reveals the indifference and tenderness of a metropolis where the lives of complete strangers continuously interact and coalesce.

GKIDS

Opens Wednesday, Jan. 15

Weathering with You

Various locations and prices

Catch the highly-anticipated new film from director Makoto Shinkai and producer Genki Kawamura, the creative team behind the critically-acclaimed, global smash hit Your Name! The summer of his high school freshman year, Hodaka runs away from his remote island home to Tokyo, and quickly finds himself pushed to his financial and personal limits. The weather is unusually gloomy and rainy every day, as if to suggest his future. He lives his days in isolation, but finally finds work as a writer for a mysterious occult magazine. Then one day, Hodaka meets Hina on a busy street corner. This bright and strong-willed girl possesses a strange and wonderful ability: the power to stop the rain and clear the sky. But what happens when controlling the weather leads to unforeseen problems for the pair and Japan itself?

Courtesy of Cdn.travelpulse

Jan. 24-26

The New York Times Travel Show

Jacob K. Javits Center, 655 West 34th Street

$20-$25

Calling all travel professionals: Set your wanderlust free! Now celebrating its 17th year, this annual event features over 35,000 travel professionals, with over 740 exhibitor booths representing more than 170 destinations. Get the latest information you need for planning your next global destination with dozens of destination-specific seminars, and focused niche topics from cruises to family travel, exclusive trade-only exhibition hours, and an industry reception.

Want to stay in the loop on future events? Follow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.


Oct 3

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Pico Iyer, Hiromi, Lincoln Center Bunraku

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobeshi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

The Japan-centric events of the month ahead promise to be as rich and full as autumn itself—brisk and colorful, with a dash of unpredictability.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Zac Zinger

Thursday, Oct. 3, 8:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

Zac Zinger Fulfillment Release Concert

Jazz at Kitano, 66 Park Avenue

$18 cover, call (212) 885-7119 for reservations

A four-time recipient of the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer Award, Zac Zinger is a composer and musician (whose credits includes Final Fantasy XV: Assassin’s Festival and Street Fighter V) ready to unleash his debut album. Fulfillment is a compilation of Zinger’s best compositions for small jazz ensemble over the last decade, performed on shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute) and saxophone with his progressive jazz quartet featuring Sharik Hasan on piano, Adam Neely on bass, and Luke Markham on drums.

Courtesy of MuSE

Sunday, Oct. 6, 2:00 p.m.

Wind of Tsugaru in New York: Bunta Satoh, Tsugarubue

Carnegie Hall (Weill Recital Hall), 881 Seventh Avenue

$25-$45 (click here for 20% discount for orchestra seats)

Flautist Bunta Satoh introduces the history and culture of Tsugarubue, a Japanese bamboo flute from the Tsugaru region of Aomori Prefecture. In addition to performing this one-of-a-kind music, he composes for the instrument and organizes workshops to inspire a new generation to uphold its tradition. He released his third album, The Wind of Tsugaru, in January 2017. Joining him for this performance are Hiro Hayashida and Sota Asano (taiko drums), Chihiro Shibayama (percussion), Stephanie Matthews (violin), Reenat Pinchas (cello), and Hsin-Ni Liu (piano).

Shochiku

Oct. 11-17, various times

Tora-san, Our Lovable Tramp (It’s Tough Being a Man)

Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street

$15, $9 members

New 50th anniversary 4K restoration! The longest-running film series starring the same actor (48 features over 27 years), with all but two directed by Yoji Yamada and every one starring Kiyoshi Atsumi as the itinerant, rough around the edges peddler Torajiro Kuruma (nicknamed Tora-san, literally “Mr. Tiger”), a comic figure as iconic in Japan as Chaplin while capable of cutting through pretentious piffle and providing serene counsel to the troubled and the lovelorn—if not always to himself. In his debut appearance, Tora-san hilariously botches the arranged marriage of his kid sister Sakura (Chieko Baisho), but later reverse-psychologizes two timid lovers into a real romance.

Read More
Sep 11

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Babymetal, ‘Promare,’ Joe Hisaishi

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.

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 Babymetal

Sunday, Sept. 15, 8:00 p.m.

Babymetal + Avatar 

Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street

$59.50

First NYC appearance in three and a half years! Su-metal and Moametal are a genre-smashing duo of teenage girls who perform a fusion of metal and idol music dubbed kawaii (cute) metal. After playing to a capacity crowds at Hammerstein Ballroom in 2014 and PlayStation Theater in 2016, the group returns to support its long-awaited third album Metal Galaxy, coming in October. After opening for bands like Metallica, Guns N’ Roses and the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2017, Babymetal is one of the biggest (and widely known abroad) Japanese musical acts today. Featuring support from Swedish metal group Avatar, promoting their recent release The King Live in Paris.

Courtesy of Sony Music Entertainment (Japan) Inc.

Monday, Sept. 16, 8:00 p.m.

Man with a Mission

Gramercy Theatre, 127 East 23rd Street

$27.50

Returning to North America for the first time in five years, Man with a Mission are one of the most important and loved rock bands in Asia today, having collaborated with artists ranging from Patrick Stump to milet. Their newest single “Dark Crow” has been selected as the theme song for the second season of NHK’s TV anime series Vinland Saga, and the tour supports the release of their most recent album, Chasing the Horizon. The album is the wolf collective’s fifth in their native Japan but their first brand new album to be released worldwide and has received widespread critical acclaim.

GKIDS

Sept. 17 & 19, 7:00 p.m.

Promare

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC 34th Street 14, 312 West 34th Street

$12.50

The first feature-length film from the acclaimed Studio TRIGGER, creators of the hit series KILL la KILL and Little Witch Academia, and director Hiroyuki Imaishi (GURREN LAGANN, KILL la KILL), Promare uses a bold cel-shaded visual style to tell a blistering action-adventure story, and is the spiritual successor to many of director Imaishi’s former works. Thirty years has passed since the appearance of Burnish, a race of flame-wielding mutant beings, who destroyed half of the world with fire. When a new group of aggressive mutants calling themselves “Mad Burnish” appears, the epic battle between Galo Thymos, a new member of the anti-Burnish rescue team “Burning Rescue,” and Lio Fotia, the leader of “Mad Burnish” begins. The Sept. 17 screening is presented in English. The Sept. 19 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Read More


Aug 25

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Gentle Black Giants’

Gentle Black Giants proves that the Royal Giants’ legacy has lived on in the countless tours taken by American teams to Japan since they first graced Asian shores nearly a century ago.” (NBRP Press)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagataken, 2008-10; Kochi-ken, 2018-present) 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.

In the 1930s, major leaguers including Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig went on tours of Japan, dazzling throngs of new fans while dropping nary a match (Gehrig’s group visited the country in 1931 while the Bambino arrived three years later). Those visits by all-star teams were widely credited for generating Japanese enthusiasm for baseball, which in turn helped launch professional baseball in Japan. But many (if not most) baseball fans are unaware the first American professional baseball players to tour Japan were not major leaguers.

A recently expanded book from the Nisei Baseball Research Project delves into a group of Negro Leaguers who sparked the growth of Japanese professional baseball. Gentle Black Giants: A History of Negro Leaguers in Japan explores the tours taken by the Philadelphia Royal Giants that contributed to the development of baseball in the country. Co-authored by Kazuo Sayama and Bill Staples, Jr. (the former is a Japanese baseball historian, the latter is a baseball researcher), Gentle Black Giants was first published in 1986, which coincided with the 50th anniversary of the birth of Japanese pro baseball.

At first glance, it’s apparent that Gentle Black Giants resembles a victorious baseball squad as numerous contributors pitched in to create an extensive resource about the link between the Negro Leagues and Japan. While the cover suggests a collaboration between Sayama and Staples (Sayama penned the original version of the book in Japanese while Staples took charge of the English translation), several editors and authors collaborated to create this new edition.

Read More


Aug 3

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Liberty City Anime Con, Miyavi, ‘Millennium Actress’

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.

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

Aug. 9-11

Liberty City Anime Con

Crowne Plaza Times Square, 1605 Broadway

$40-$60

The best three-day anime convention in New York City returns for its third year and features over 100 events and panels, three days of cosplay, game tournaments and anime screenings, concerts, balls and dances. This year’s special guests include Tyler Walker, Heather Walker, CDawgVA, Brittany Lauda, Matt Shipman and Gigi Edgley, with special performances by Frenchy and the Punk and and Reni Mimura!

Courtesy of Sonyhall.com

Saturday, Aug. 10, 8:00 p.m.

Keiko Matsui with Randy Brecker

Sony Hall, 235 West 46th Street

$35, $75 VIP

Keiko Matsui’s music speaks to the hearts and souls of fans around the world, transcending borders and building bridges among people who share a common appreciation of honest artistry and cultural exchange. Echo, her 28th recording as a leader, melds exquisite compositions with lush harmonies and global rhythms to create timeless musical anthems. Joining her is jazz trumpeter and composer Randy Brecker, who has helped shape the sound of jazz, R&B and rock for more than four decades. His trumpet and flugelhorn performances have graced hundreds of albums by a wide range of artists from James Taylor, Bruce Springsteen and Parliament/Funkadelic to Frank Sinatra, Steely Dan, Jaco Pastorius and Frank Zappa.

Micah Joel Photography

Aug. 10-11

PLAY NYC

Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street

$25 single day, $50 full weekend, $100 dev & pro weekend pass

Launched in 2017, PLAY NYC is New York City’s premier game convention for creators and players. The weekend will feature a full pavilion of playable games for all consoles, PC, virtual reality and mobile devices from studios large and small and developers old and new. Games will include indie projects with some larger triple A titles. Get access to some of the biggest games coming later this year and discover many you’ve never even heard of. PLAY NYC celebrates every facet of gaming in a way that only the Big Apple can by uniting players, developers and industry pros at a games event like no other.

Eleven Arts

Aug. 13, 19, 7:00 p.m.

Millennium Actress

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC Kips Bay 15, 570 Second Avenue

$12.50

Experience the gorgeous new restoration of what many believe to be Satoshi Kon’s (Perfect Blue, Paprika) greatest work. When the legendary Ginei Studios shuts down, filmmaker Genya Tachibana and his assistant are tasked with interviewing its reclusive star, Chiyoko Fujiwara, who had retired from the spotlight 30 years prior. As she recounts her career, Genya and his crew are literally pulled into her memories where they witness her chance encounter with a mysterious man on the run from the police. Despite never knowing his name or his face, Chiyoko relentlessly pursues that man in a seamless blend of reality and memory that only Satoshi Kon could deliver. Boasting countless awards, including the Grand Prize in the Japan Agency of Cultural Affairs Media Arts Festival (which it shared with Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away), Millennium Actress is a must-see for anime fans of all ages. Includes a post-film conversation with producers Taro Maki and Masao Maruyama as they reflect on making the film and Satoshi Kon’s legacy. The Aug. 13 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. The Aug. 19 screening is presented in English.

Courtesy of Sonyhall.com

Monday, Aug. 19, 8:00 p.m.

Miyavi

Sony Hall, 235 West 46th Street

$35, $69.50 VIP

Known to his fans as the “Samurai Guitarist,” Miyavi is gaining recognition around the world for his unconventional style of playing the guitar—not with a pick, but with his fingers and his “slap style,” which is like no other. Miyavi has six successful world tours under his belt, totaling more than 250 shows in 30 countries across North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australia. In recent years, Miyavi gathered attention from other artists and creators in the field. He has also produced music for television commercials, and is receiving a lot of attention from fashion brands. With his acting debut in Unbroken, Miyavi was inspired by the message of peace which he himself has strived for; he has been able to use all his performing abilities this time as an actor who considers his body and soul to be his instrument.

GKIDS

Aug. 25-26, 28, various times

My Neighbor Totoro

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC Kips Bay 15, 570 Second Avenue

$12.50

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a classic tale of 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. The Aug. 25 and 28 screenings are presented in English. The Aug. 26 screening is presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Want to stay in the loop on future eventsFollow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.


Jul 29

JQ Magazine: JQ&A with Director Shinya Tsukamoto at JAPAN CUTS

“In the film Killing, I don’t necessarily have one political message that’s strongly pursued, and I want the audience to figure out the film’s message for themselves. Personally speaking, I find it to be incredibly frightening today of what the Japanese government is doing.” (Courtesy of Shinya Tsukamoto)

 

 

By Lyle Sylvander (Yokohama-shi, 2001-02) for JQ magazine. Lyle used to work in New York City for Merchant Ivory Productions and the National Geographic Channel. He currently teaches history, international relations and film at an international high school in Shanghai, China.

Shinya Tsukamoto is a Japanese filmmaker most famous for his Tetsuo trilogy of horror/sci-fi films: Tetsuo: The Iron Man (1989), Tetsuo II: Body Hammer (1992), and Tetsuo: the Bullet Man (2009). Other films include Hiruko the Goblin (1991), Bullet Ballet (1998), and Tokyo Fist (1995). He has also acted in most of his own films as well as those of others, most recently in Martin Scorsese’s Silence (2016). 

Last week, Tsukamoto made a special appearance at Japan Society in New York City for their annual JAPAN CUTS film festival to receive their prestigious CUT ABOVE Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film, as well as to speak at the East Coast premiere of his latest film, Killing. In this exclusive interview, JQ spoke with the director about violence and politics in his work, lifelong influences, and the story behind the name of his most enduring creation. (Translation by Aiko Masubuchi.)

You have stated that Killing was made in response to the violence you see today in society. All of your previous films have dealt with violence in one way or another—how is your position towards violence different in this film than in others?

When I was little, and for a long time, of course there were some violent things that happened in Japan, but mostly speaking, the violence was outside Japan and Japan was a country that would try to avoid war. It was that way for a long period of time. So, in my earlier films, the violence I was depicting was more fantastical. But now, times have changed: Japan is turning into a country that is getting ready to go to war, and so I could no longer depict violence through a fantastical lens—I needed to depict violence as something realistic and scary and use it as a warning, and so could no longer depict violence the same way.

Does this mean that your film is in response to the Abe administration’s recent foreign policy and re-militarization of Japan?

In the film, I don’t necessarily have one political message that’s strongly pursued, and I want the audience to figure out the film’s message for themselves. Personally speaking, I find it to be incredibly frightening today of what the Japanese government is doing.

How does your version of Nobi (Fires on the Plain) differ from Kon Ichikawa’s classic version of the same anti-war story?

I am a huge fan of Kon Ichikawa’s film Nobi, and I first saw it when I was in high school. I thought it was a fantastic anti-war statement and incredibly moving. In fact, the films I made as a teenager were greatly influenced by it. What I like about Ichikawa’s film is that he brings the camera into the internal darkness of the characters. Even though the setting of the original story is in the Philippines, Ichikawa’s film was shot in Japan. But what struck me in the original story was the beautiful nature and the landscapes of the Philippines, which contrasted the horror of what the soldiers were doing to each other. To me, it seemed important to have the Philippines’ beautiful nature as a backdrop, so the way we approached the film visually was quite different.

Read More


Page Rank