JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Japan Day @ Central Park, Miyavi, In Praise of Natto

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 spring continues and the weather continues to warm, New Yorkers can enjoy activities all over the city both indoors and out.

This month’s highlights include:

© George Hirose

Sunday, May 6, 11:00 a.m.

Children’s Day Festival: Kodomo no Hi

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$18, $10 Japan Society members, children ages 2 and under free

Hang the koinobori (carp streamers) and don your kabuto (samurai helmet): Children’s Day is on its way! Come join us for Japan’s national holiday where all children are stars and their happiness is celebrated. Enjoy a performance of Peach Boy (Momotaro) featuring storytelling, music, dance, taiko drumming and lots of audience participation. Continue the adventure with other authentic Kodomo no Hi activities!

Courtesy of Sonyhall.com

Sunday, May 6, 8:00 p.m.

Keiko Matsui

Sony Hall, 235 West 46th Street

$34.50, $74.50 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. Journey to the Heart, her 27th recording as a leader, marks the 30th anniversary since her recording debut and is her boldest statement yet. On Journey to the Heart, Matsui more than delivers what she has come to be loved for breathtakingly beautiful transcendent melodies that transport the listener. A master storyteller, she crafts passionate and emotive songs with lush harmonies and global rhythms to create timeless musical anthems.

© Connie Ma

Tuesday, May 8, 6:30 p.m.

Cool Tokyo: Harajuku, Akihabara and Beyond

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$14, $11 Japan Society members, seniors and students

From street fashion to street food, kawaii to cosplay, Tokyo is the epicenter of Japan’s latest trends. With so much to explore in this vibrant, fast-paced city, it can be hard to know where to start. At this talk, Sebastian Masuda, visual artist and founder of Harajuku shop 6%DokiDoki, and Abby Denson, comic book artist and author of Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla, help to navigate Tokyo’s vending machines, subway etiquette, hidden treasures, and much more. Followed by a book signing reception.

GKIDS

Friday, May 11

Lu Over the Wall

Angelika Film Center, 333 18 West Houston Street

Landmark 57 West, 657 West 57th Street

$12-$15

From visionary anime auteur Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, Devilman Crybaby) comes a hallucinogenic but family-friendly take on the classic fairy tale of the little mermaid who falls in love with mankind, and then comes ashore to join a dysfunctional middle school rock band and propel them to fame. New kid Kai (voice of Shota Shimoda) is talented but adrift, spending his days sulking and isolated in a small fishing village after his family moves from Tokyo. When he demonstrates a proficiency at making music on his synthesizer, his classmates invite him to join their nascent garage band, but their practice sessions soon bring an unexpected guest: Lu (Kanon Tani), a young mermaid whose fins turn to feet when she hears the beats, and whose singing causes humans to compulsively dance—whether they want to or not. Screenings are available in both English and Japanese with English subtitles.

Courtesy of Japandaynyc.org

Sunday, May 13, 9:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.

Japan Day @ Central Park

Naumberg Bandshell

Free

Now in its 12th year, Japan Day has won acclaim from New Yorkers from every walk of life, with Mayor Michael de Blasio calling it an eagerly anticipated cultural event on the city’s calendar. For this year’s event, organizers are planning once again to have both the Japan Run (beginning in the early morning) and the Japan Day Festival, emphasizing enjoyable activities for all ages that will deepen participants’ understanding and appreciation of Japanese culture—not to mention the food, drinks and snacks! Hosted by CNN national correspondent Sandra Endo, previous guest performers have included AKB48, Jero and Akiko Yano.

Courtesy of Carnegiehall.org

Thursday, May 17, 8:00 p.m.

Yuja Wang

Carnegie Hall, Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, 881 Seventh Avenue

$19-$135

Gifted with mind-boggling technical skill, penetrating interpretive insight, and enough charisma to light a city, Yuja Wang is a megastar pianist. Her dramatic sense of style, exuberance, and flair for being a serious artist who doesn’t take herself too seriously have won her acclaim with traditional and non-traditional audiences. Since her 2008 graduation from the Curtis Institute of Music, she has enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame, mastering a vast range of solo repertoire, collaborating with notable colleagues in chamber music, and performing with preeminent conductors and orchestras around the globe. This solo piano performance will feature compositions by Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Legeti, and Prokofiev.

Courtesy of Resonance Media

Sunday, May 20, 7:00 p.m.

Miyavi

Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place

$35 general admission, $200 VIP

Miyavi is a world-renowned musician, actor and philanthropist, dedicated to bridging cultures across the globe with his music and work for numerous humanitarian causes. Known as the “Samurai Guitarist,” he is known for his unconventional style of guitar playing—performing not with a pick, but with his fingers in a method dubbed “slap style.” As an actor, he has appeared in major Hollywood films (Kong: Skull Island, Unbroken) and is presently set to star in an upcoming Japanese live-action movie based on the smash hit supernatural action manga and anime series, Bleach. On his latest tour, Miyavi will draw from material across his entire discography and is also set to perform his latest song, “Long Nights,” an intensely powerful track driven by pulsating guitars and punctuated with stark lyrics from Afghan phenom rapper Sonita, who was the subject of an acclaimed eponymous documentary that took the World Documentary Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

GKIDS

May 20-21, 23

Porco Rosso

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

Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

$12.50 all ages

Monday, March 26, 7:30 p.m.

From the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki, comes a dazzling aerial adventure set in and above the scenic port towns of the Adriatic Sea. Porco Rosso is a world weary flying ace-turned-bounty-hunter, whose face has been transformed into that of a pig by a mysterious spell. When he infuriates a band of sky pirates with his heroics, the pirates hire Curtis, a hotshot American rival, to get rid of him. But with the help of the teenage girl Fio, an aspiring airplane designer, and sultry lounge singer named Gina, Porco takes to the skies for what may be his final high-flying showdown.

Courtesy of Japansociety.org

Wednesday, March 21, 6:30 p.m.

Natto: Japan’s Probiotic Superfood

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$20, $16 Japan Society members, seniors and students

Natto, a sticky concoction of fermented soybeans known for its numerous health benefits and distinctive smell and texture, is a staple in Japan. Chock-full of probiotics, this Japanese superfood is also vegan, gluten-free, and a concentrated source of vitamins and minerals. At this talk, microbiologist and natto maker Ann Yonetani, founder of Brooklyn-based NYrture Food, dishes on her favorite ways to prepare natto, examines both traditional and novel culinary pairings, and breaks down the food science behind this soybean sensation. Moderated by Sho Spaeth, features editor at Serious Eats. Followed by a natto tasting reception, featuring a modern spin on this Japanese staple.

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