May 4

Justin’s Japan: Roland Kelts Makes New ‘Monkey Business’ at Japan Night @ Joe’s Pub

JET alum and ‘Monkey Business’ editor Roland Kelts will appear at Japan Night @ Joe’s Pub in New York May 6. (Kaz)

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

Regular visitors to NoHo’s St. Mark’s Place are known to enjoy many of the Japanese pubs and eateries that dot the street down to Avenue A. This Sunday (May 6), neighbor Joe’s Pub will host live music and the latest English release of a notable Nippon-centric literary anthology.

Japan Night @ Joe’s Pub, held at the eponymous nightclub a stone’s throw below Astor Place, promises an unforgettable night of transcultural readings, music and live performances. On tap for Sunday: revered Japanese writers Masatsugu Ono, Tomoko Shibasaki, and award-winning author and translator Motoyuki Shibata will arrive from Tokyo to share the stage with American authors Stuart Dybek, Kelly Link, and Canadian translator, scholar and editor Ted Goossen.

The scriveners’ summit will celebrate the second Issue of Monkey Business International, the latest English-language edition of the acclaimed Japanese literary magazine that Pulitzer-winning author Junot Díaz calls “one of the year’s best publications” and Luna Park Review dubbed “one of the seven best literary magazines of 2011.”

Emceeing is JET alum (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), Japanamerica author and Monkey Business contributing editor Roland Kelts (click here for an exclusive interview conducted with Kelts last year), who describes the literary project as “all about dear friends calling upon me to be a bridge between the worlds I inhabit, write about and know best—giving me an enormous opportunity to feel a momentary spurt of self-worth.”

For the complete story, click here.

Jan 13

Justin’s Japan: Roland Kelts Joins Famed Musicians, Writers for The Global Salon

Author Roland Kelts and musician Keiko Matsui join Akiko Yano and Ian Buruma for The Global Salon: Cities in Japan at The Greene Space on Jan. 19. (Kaz, Bobby Quillard)


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

JET alum and half Japanese American writer, editor and lecturer Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) will appear with acclaimed musicians and writers connected to Japan for an intimate talk and performance called The Global Salon: Cities in Japan at The Greene Space in New York on Jan. 19.

Kelts, who lives half of each year in Tokyo and New York, is the author of Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the U.S. and writes about contemporary Japan for several publications in the U.S. and Japan. He is a frequent commentator on Japan for National Public Radio and the BBC.

Hosted by WNYC News host Eddie Robinson and presented in cooperation with the Consulate General of Japan, The Global Salon: Cities in Japan presents compelling stories of courage and resiliency, while the country continues to face unprecedented hardships of increased suicidal rates and unemployment, before and after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. Robinson will engage the audience and esteemed guests through captivating dialogue and enchanting musical themes about the country’s economic future, advances in technology, and the preservation of its remarkable culture.

For the complete story, click here.

May 5

WITLife is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends together with her own observations.

Last weekend aside from going to the glorious Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, I attended a panel discussion at Asia Society about contemporary writing from Japan.  I had heard about the event from former JET Roland Kelts, who in addition to publishing books of his own and lecturing at both NYU and Tokyo University, is a contributing editor to the inaugural issue of the English language version of the Tokyo-based literary magazine Monkey Business (currently available for purchase!).  The magazine is run by award-winning translator Motoyuki Shibata, who served as editor of the English version along with colleague Ted Goossen.

All three were on hand at this event, which was divided up into the two sections of Read More

Apr 27

Justin’s Japan: Interview with “Japanamerica” Author/JET Alum Roland Kelts on “Monkey Business”

“Through the JET Program, I learned how to live and work in Japan—an invaluable lesson.” (Kaz)


By JQ magazine’s Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02) for Visit his page here to subscribe for free alerts on newly published stories.

Taking its name from the immortal Chuck Berry tune, the debut English-language edition of Monkey Business: New Voices from Japan is based on the annual Tokyo-based Japanese literary magazine founded in 2008 by award-winning translator, scholar, editor and author Motoyuki Shibata, one of Japan’s best known and most highly regarded translators of American fiction. The first installment offers poetry, Kafka-adapted manga, a wide-ranging, in-depth interview with Haruki Murakami, and much more. And despite its mischievous title, twenty-five percent of all Monkey Business sales will go toward the Nippon Foundation/CANPAN Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) is the author of 2006’s Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. and a curator and editor for Monkey Business. A weekly columnist for The Daily Yomiuri, commentator for National Public Radio, and teacher of Japanese popular culture at New York University and the University of Tokyo (he splits his time between both cities), Kelts is back in town this week for the new book’s launch, beginning April 30 at Asia Society, May 1 at BookCourt in Brooklyn, and May 3 at Japan Society. I caught up with Kelts during his recent appearance at Seattle’s Sakura-Con for this exclusive interview.

How did you get involved as an editor and curator for this book?

My dear friend, Motoyuki Shibata, Japan’s premier translator of American literature, talked to me two years ago about publishing an English-language version of Monkey Business, his literary magazine. As an editor at A Public Space, a literary magazine based in Brooklyn, I was keen to build another bridge between the two countries. I talked at length with Brigid Hughes, the founding editor of A Public Space, and she was interested. Then we received a grant from the Nippon Foundation, and the Japan Foundation, the Asia Society and the Japan Society all supported our project. I am deeply grateful to all parties involved.

What can readers expect from the book?

The freshest, newest, most exciting contemporary literature, poetry and manga from Japan, plus some American voices, like Barry Yourgrau, who have emerged as major American authors in Japan.

How did you select the pieces to be selected for the English version?

Motoyuki Shibata, Ted Goosen and major translators like Jay Rubin (Haruki Murakami’s translator) and Michael Emmerich all created the final manuscript. Shibata and Goosen then sent it to me and Brigid Hughes, and we had several conversations in order to select the best material for an American readership.

What are the biggest challenges of translating and editing Japanese creative writing into English?

It’s not as simple as it sounds. You need to choose the material that will speak to American readers, who, after all, are limited and defined by their cultural context. Not every successful book in Japan will speak to American readers. You need cultural authorities on both sides of the Pacific Ocean to make a valuable publication.

You’ve been working on a novel of your own called Access for years now. What can you tell us about it, and how’s it coming along?

Very close to completion. I think it’s a masterpiece, but I’m partial, of course. It’s a cross-cultural narrative built upon sex and longing—both close to my heart.

As a participant of Japan’s international exchange-based JET Program, what were your biggest takeaways from your experience that you’ve applied to your career today?

I learned how to live and work in Japan—an invaluable lesson.

Read the rest of the interview here.

Apr 6

Thanks to Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99) for sharing the link to this NHK video on Tuesday night’s JETAANY Japan Fundraiser:

Apr 6


Via Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica and the contributing editor for MONKEY BUSINESS:  New Voices from Japan:

A Letter from A Public Space (Brooklyn-based literary publication):

A Public Space Literary Projects announces the debut issue of MONKEY BUSINESS: New Voices from Japan, with April/May launch events in New York City.

New York City, New York, April 4, 2011—A Public Space (APS) announces publication of the first annual English language edition of Monkey Business: New Voices from Japan (MB), supported by a generous grant from the Nippon Foundation. Three launch programs in New York City in late April and early May will bring together authors, translators and editors from Japan and the US for this first-of-its-kind trans-cultural literary event. Twenty-five percent of all MB sales will go toward the Nippon Foundation/CANPAN Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

Monkey Business is a Tokyo-based Japanese literary magazine founded in 2008 by award-winning translator, scholar, editor and author Motoyuki Shibata. One of Japan’s best known and most highly regarded translators of American fiction, Shibata has won numerous accolades, most recently the 2010 Japan Translation Cultural Prize for his translation of Thomas Pynchon’s Mason & Dixon, and has introduced to Japanese readers works by Paul Auster, Steven Millhauser, Rebecca Brown, Stuart Dybek and Steve Erickson, among others.

Shibata, who was interviewed in the first issue of APS, modeled MB in part on the Brooklyn literary journal. Founded in 2006 by editor Brigid Hughes, A Public Space is devoted to cutting-edge literature—not just from American contributors, but by writers and artists spanning the globe. Each issue presents a portfolio that explores an international literary scene. The debut issue of APS featured a portfolio from Japan, curated and edited by author Roland Kelts (Japanamerica) and MB founder Shibata, and featuring contributions from Haruki Murakami, Yoko Ogawa, Kazushige Abe and others. Issue 1 was praised by readers in the US and Japan and has long been sold out.”
Read More

Apr 4


Attention JETAA UK! Join Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, at The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation in London on Thursday, April 14 for a talk on “Pop culture from a Multipolar Japan.”  Talk is 4-5 pm followed by drinks reception to 6pm.

Note:  If you plan on attending, please register for the event at


Mar 31

Roland Kelts to speak at “Anime Boston” – Sat., April 3

Hey JETAA New England! Join Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, at Anime Boston this coming weekend for a Japanamerica talk and book-signing session Saturday, April 3, @ 1:30 p.m. in the Hynes Convention Center in downtown Boston.

Mar 25

Event: JET alum authors Roland Kelts and Karl Taro Greenfeld to speak in Philadelphia – March 26

After a quick jaunt back to Tokyo, Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, is back in the U.S. and on the road this week for a short stint for the Association of Asian Studies’ (AAS) Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, where he will appear on Friday, March 26 for a discussion panel called The Japan Knowledge Industry Outside the Academy with fellow author and JET Alum Karl Taro Greenfeld (Kanagawa-ken, 1988-89) (Speed Tribes:  Days and Nights With Japan’s Next Generation), author William M. Tsutsui (Godzilla on my Mind), journalist Misako Hida (The Wall Street Journal Japan), and Professor Laura Miller (Bad Girls of Japan).

The discussion takes place this Friday, March 26, from 10:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel. More info can be found under “# 69” here:

Philly-area JET alums are encouraged to swing by and say hello.

Mar 19

Roland Kelts column in Daily Yomiuri: Censorship of manga – What’s ok?

Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, has published his latest SOFT POWER/HARD TRUTHS column for The Daily Yomiuri–this one about last month’s sentencing of American Chris Handley for possession of ‘obscene manga’ in Iowa–and this month’s proposal by the Tokyo Government to censor ‘virtual porn’ (read: manga and anime) in Japan.

Is this another example of ‘gaitsu‘–Japan being affected by foreign pressure?

Column is here:

Mar 17

Roland Kelts to give Tokyo Otaku talk at Temple U. – Thurs March 18 (Tokyo)

More details here:

Mar 3

All the JETAA Southeast alums will have a chance to meet and hear Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, speak at Keenesaw State University in Atlanta, GA on Thursday, March 4 from 6:30-8:00 pm.  If you happen to go and say hi, let him know you heard about the event on JetWit.  Also, email JetWit (jetwit [at] to let us know how the event was so we can share it with the rest of the JET alum community.

Here’s the flyer with all the relevant info for the event:

Feb 26

Roland Kelts sought as commentator on Toyota by major media outlets

If you’ve been following Toyota’s problems of late, then you may have also noticed JET alum Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, popping up a lot as a commentator.

He recently appeared on ABC’s World News Tonight.  And even more recently he was commissioned to write an op-ed for the Christian Science Monitor to clarify some of the vast cultural misreadings evident in the Congressional Toyota/Toyoda hearings.

And addressed the topic of Toyota in an interesting way in his recent Daily Yomiuri column on The Super Bowl, Toyota, Anime and Hollywood:

And if you’re looking for commentary on non-Toyota topics, then you can listen to Roland’s recent appearance on NPR discussing a wild relic of Japanese popular culture, a viral video of Japanese ‘Jazz Opera,’ produced in 1986 by Tamori, the great comedian:

Feb 13

Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, is interviewed on ABC’s “World News Tonight” with Brian Ross and Diane Sawyer.

Feb 3

Roland Kelts column in Daily Yomiuri: Is this the year Japan jumps the shark?

Here’s the latest SOFT POWER/HARD TRUTHS column in the Daily Yomiuri by Roland Kelts (Osaka-shi, 1998-99), author of Japanamerica, this one whether Japan, like Fonzie in the epic sitcom Happy Days, has “jumped the shark.”

Also, fyi, Roland is now down in Miami for the Super Bowl (his sister works for the NFL!) hanging out with his pal Pete Townsend of The Who which will be providing the halftime entertainment.  Here’s the post from Roland’s blog:

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