Justin’s Japan: Nippon in New York—Japan Week at Grand Central, Mayday debut, Jake Shimabukuro

Ukulele hero Jake Shimabukuro returns to Highline Ballroom March 27. (Courtesy of Highline Ballroom)

Ukulele hero Jake Shimabukuro returns to Highline Ballroom March 27. (Courtesy of Highline Ballroom)

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

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

This month’s highlights include:

March 1-2, 2:00 p.m.

Kaleidoscoping Tohoku: Three Years After the Disaster in 2011

J-LABO Brooklyn, 300-302 Seventh Street, Park Slope

Free

Three years have now passed since the tsunami, earthquake and nuclear accident in 2011 rocked Eastern Japan, yet those who have visited since have been enchanted by the rich culture and history of Tohoku, forging relationships with local residents across generations and geographies. Now, various new projects, art works, crafts, and business from the traditional and the contemporary have emerged. Contents of the two-day event include regional progress reports; a silent auction and charity sale; an exhibition featuring a display of local crafts and a documentary film of Fukushima residents; and of course, food and sake!

Monday, March 2, 11:00 a.m./2:00 p.m./4:30 p.m.

Balloon Ninja

Engleman Recital Hall at Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue

$25 advance/$31 day of event at box office

A show for all ages, this celebration of otaku culture displays how total devotion to one’s artistry creates a truly unique and unforgettable performance. With 15 years of experience, Syan is considered one of the top balloon artists of Japan, becoming the first person ever to win the triple crown of Japanese balloon competition the year he turned pro. A graduate of Japan’s only circus school, Saito is an accomplished juggler, acrobat, balloon twister, and award winner best known for his ninja performance, where he showcases his artistry while clad in black.

March 6-8

Japan Week 2014

Vanderbilt Hall at Grand Central Terminal, 89 East 42nd Street

Free

Japan Week’s annual program highlights unique features of Japanese culture from the last 100 years to the present. Delectable regional foods, technology exhibits, and traditional arts and performances will aim to inspire greater understanding of Japan and travel to the country. There’s something for everyone, from the fresh aroma of Kyoto green tea; a new NTT DOCOMO smartphone app that translates spoken Japanese and English; an introduction to Japanese artistry including hand-blown glass house wares, wooden keyboards and USB’s, gold lacquered iPhone cases; and more. Those planning an international trip can head to the Visit Japan booth for in-person info about travel and various regions.

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