- New York’s Year of Japan
- Heisei Nakamura-za to Make Triumphant Return to New York
- Masterpiece Comes to Philadelphia’s Japanese House and Garden
- Event Calender
- When Spring is in the Air the Cherry Bloss om Seas on is Upon Us
- Japan Day @ Central Park
- Decorations Awarded
- Visit Japan Where the Past Meets the Future
- Culture Connection Japanese Gardens:Poetic Harmony
According to the traditional Chinese calendar, 2007 is the year of the wild boar. But for New Yorkers, it is quickly shaping up to be the “Year of Japan”, too. So mark your calendars!
First, 2007 will see two of New York’s most esteemed Japan-related organizations celebrate their centennials with an unprecedented series of events: Japan Society is marking its milestone with a diverse 100th anniversary program, and the Japanese American Association (JAA), will observe its first century with the release of a commemorative DVD and other celebrations.
For fans of Japanese cuisine, 2007 has already been an epicurean delight. In March the Japanese Food Culture Festival (March 4-10) kicked off in the Japan Pavilion at the International Restaurant and Food Service Show. On March 5th a symposium was held at Japan Society featuring “Iron Chef” Masaharu Morimoto, legendary French chef Daniel Boulud, and the CEO of Kikkoman. That same evening, a talk, “Gastronomic Discovery: An Evening of Japanese Food Culture”, was held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. It included cooking demonstrations by star chefs from kaiseki restaurants in Kyoto and by Chef David Bouley, who shared his creative take on traditional Japanese cooking. Furthermore, as part of the Festival, Japan Restaurant Week 2007 gave thirty-nine participating Japanese restaurants a chance to offer specially designed menus and discounts to customers.
Come June 3rd, Japan comes to Central Park in a big way. The first Japan Day @ Central Park event includes “Japan Run”, a four mile race coordinated by the New York Road Runners. Like a Japanese summer festival, participants at Japan Day will enjoy on-stage performances and food and activity stalls at “Japan Village” in Rumsey Field, where they will experience the traditional and contemporary sights, sounds, and tastes of Japan.
Later, in July, the magnificent Heisei Nakamura-za kabuki troupe returns to Lincoln Center.
Courtesy of New York Botanical Garden
And with the arrival of fall, a groundbreaking, month-long exhibition, “Kiku: The Art of the Japanese Chrysanthemum”, will be in bloom at The New York Botanical Garden, beginning October 20. There has never been a better time to experience Japan in the Big Apple, so please check for further information at our event calendar (www.ny.us.embjapan. go.jp).
Three years after its critically acclaimed performances at Lincoln Center Festival 2004, the Heisei Nakamura-za kabuki company returns to New York this summer. Headed by Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII, one of the most famous and popular kabuki actors in Japan, the troupe’s performances at Lincoln Center Festival 2007 will give New Yorkers a chance to be a part of one of the world’s great theatrical traditions as practiced by master performers.
In July Heisei Nakamura-za will bring Hokaibo and an opening performance, Renjishi (Three Lions) to the stage at Lincoln Center. Hokaibo is the eponymous story of a man who, by all appearances, is a pious, shaven-headed Buddhist priest - but is, in reality, an uninhibited and unprincipled rogue. Nakamura Kanzaburo XVIII has won great acclaim for his portrayal of Hokaibo’s misadventures, which are portrayed in a very humorous manner. Renjishi, or Three Lions will only be performed once, and it will be a rare opportunity to watch as Nakamura Kanzaburo performs with his two sons, Kantaro II and Shichinosuke II.
Avery Fisher Hall will be specially transformed into a traditional kabuki-style theater for the performances. In 2004 tickets sold out quickly -- so this promises to be a rare second chance for audiences to experience the Japanese kabuki tradition right here in the Big Apple. The performances are sure to further enhance appreciation of kabuki and build mutual understanding between America and Japan.
For additional information, please visit Lincoln Center website at www.lincolncenter. org
Nihon-ga painter, Hiroshi Senju, one of Japan’s most revered contemporary artists, has completed twenty fullscale murals for the Japanese House and Garden, Shofuso, in Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. The murals will be installed on paper sliding doors (fusuma) and a centerpiece alcove (tokonoma) wall in the interior of the house and will replace the original ones painted by Kaii Higashiyama but destroyed by vandals in the 1970s. These new murals will make the Japanese House the first and only place in the United States to house such a unique and traditional Japanese art installation.
Hiroshi Senju is renowned for his unique combination of modernism and ancient methods of Japanese painting. To create his murals for Shofuso, Senju spent hours at the House selecting pigments that reflect the colors and atmosphere of the building and garden. Installation of his murals will allow the Japanese House to once again challenge the American art world by combining traditional thousandyear old Japanese techniques with 21st century modernism in a way that is exciting, three-dimensional, visual and unique.
Japanese craftsmen, using centuries old techniques, are carefully making the paper sliding doors (fusuma) that will house the murals. A group of Japanese conservationists arrived mid-February to prepare the House including refinishing walls, repairing wooden doors and replacing part of the veranda floors. The murals, currently exhibited in Tokyo, will be transported to Philadelphia in April to be permanently installed at the Japanese House. The House and Garden will reopen May 1, 2007.
Shofuso, originally built in 1954 in the courtyard of the Museum of Modern Art in NY and transferred to Fairmount Park in 1958, is the only authentic Japanese House representing 17th century “Shoinstyle” Japanese architecture in the United States. Please visit the web-site: www. shofuso.com for more.
©Victoria Moller / Japan Society
April 1 Art Cart: Sumi-e & Zen Portraiture Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
In conjunction with Japan Society’s landmark centennial exhibition, Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in Medieval Japan (March 29-June17, 2007), children and their accompanying adults are invited to explore the Japan Society Gallery as they learn about the tools and techniques of sumi-e painting in East Asia. Families can take a close look at Zen calligraphy and brush painting, and have a chance to create their own small hanging scrolls using sumi-e techniques inspired by the exhibition. Recommended for children ages 6-12 and accompanying adults. 2:00pm - 4:00pm. Tickets: $10 per family (up to five people), $7 per family Japan Society members, including at least one Japan Society member. Space is limited. Info: 212-832-1155 or www.japansociety.org
April 11 Sake Fest 2007 Loews Philadelphia Hotel
1200 Market Street, Philadelphia
The sake festival comes to Philadelphia and brings a centuries-old beverage made by some of the best Japanese and American sake brewers in the world today. If that isn’t enough, an assortment of restaurants from Philadelphia will be there for you to pair your brand of sake with some of the most exquisite food in the city of brotherly love. Info: 610-649-6330 or www.sakefest.com or http://jasgp.org
April 19 Kimono in Japanese Culture II -Show & Music Philadelphia Ethical Society
1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia
The Japanese Association of Greater Philadelphia proudly presents this show highlighting the beautiful variations of kimono. Many different styles of kimono will be shown in the context of daily life throughout the four seasons. Included in the program will be a fascinating kimono dressing demonstration, showing the complicated technique behind the kimono. Japanese music will accompany the program. Info: 215-840-4645 or firstname.lastname@example.org
May 5 Japan’s Children’s Day through Kamishibai Storytelling & Crafts-Making: Kodomo no hi Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Learn firsthand about Children’s Day (Kodomo no hi) in Japan through kamishibai storytelling by children for children, related song and dance and other interactive activities! Participants will enjoy traditional snacks (kashiwa mochi), create their own samurai helmets (kabuto), carp streamers (koinobori), and other traditional Children’s Day decorations. Recommended for children ages 3-10 accompanied by an adult. 2 to 4pm.Info: 212-832-1155 or www.japansociety.org
June 10 Touch, Feel and Interact with
Robots Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Top designers and experts introduce young audiences to robots through interaction and guided discussion. Participants also draw and design a robot of their creation that would improve their daily lives. Featured robots include i-unit, PARO, Chroino and Aibo. This event is part of Japan Society’s centennial event TECH EPOCH (May 29- June 10), an 11-day technology summit filled with high-tech gadgets from toys to cars, interactive demonstrations and multi-media performances. Recommended for ages 6-12 accompanied by an adult. Morning: 10 am- 12:15 pm; afternoon: 2 pm-4:15 pm Info: 212-832-1155 or www.japansociety.org
April 10 to 16 The Nippon Club Art Exhibition
2007 The Nippon Gallery
145 West 57th Street, NYC
This is the first “Nippon Club Art Exhibition” to exhibit the artwork of Nippon Club members or their family who believe themselves to be “amateur artists.” You will discover new talents among the various original artworks such as painting, sumi-e paintings, ceramics, crafts, caligraphy, floral designs, photographies, and so on. Info: 212-581-2223 or email@example.com
May 1 thru July 22 Ike Taiga and Tokuyama
Japanese Masters of the Brush Philadelphia Museum of Art
26th Street and the Benjamin Franklin Parkway
Philadelphia, PA 19130
This exhibition marks the first time an exhibition in the United States will focus on the eighteenth-century master of painting and calligraphy Ike Taiga (1723-1776) and his wife Tokuyama Gyokuran (1727- 1784). Bringing together key works from both Japanese and Western collections, it offers American audiences a look at over 200 exceptional and rarely seen screens, handscrolls, hanging scrolls, album and fan paintings by the two artists. Among them are pieces designated as Japanese National Treasures and Important Cultural Properties, several of which will be seen outside Japan for the first time. Info: 215-763-8100 or www.philamuseum.org
March 28 thru June 17 Awakenings: Zen Figure Painting in
Medieval Japan Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
The tradition of figure painting comes to the United States for the first time in three decades in Awakenings, an exhibition of Japanese (Zen) and Chinese (Chan) Buddhist art that features forty-seven exceptional Chinese and Japanese works of painting, ranging from the 12th to 16th century. Info: 212-832-1155 or www.japansociety.org
May 24 to 31 Shuran Isoguchi & Renshi no kai
Calligraphy Exhibition The Nippon Gallery
145 West 57th Street, NYC
This exhibition features a calligrapher Shuran Isoguchi and other selected calligraphers. Their works are not only traditional but also combination works between many ways of Japanese letter writing and drawing. At this exhibition, 81 works will be featured on a variety of medias such as hanging scrolls, frames, folding screens, square piece of papers, folding fans, pictured papers, ceramics boards. Info: 212-581-2223 or firstname.lastname@example.org
April 7 to 22 Madama Butterfly New York City Opera
New York State Theater at Lincoln Center, NYC
Puccini’s score helps tell the vibrant story of an American naval vessel that docks in Nagasaki, creating culture clashes and broken hearts. From the opening bars, Puccini expertly contrasts Eastern and Western sounds to portray what happens when two distant cultures collide. At the center of the drama is the noble geisha Cio-Cio-San, whose progress from child bride to tragic heroine is traced in music of matchless poignancy and surprising strength. Info: 212-721-6500 or www.nycopera.com
April 12 to 14 Benjamin Britten’s Curlew River Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Originally a production of the Rouen/ Haute-Normandie Opera, Normandy, France, this gorgeous opera features an international cast from the UK, France and the U.S. Internationally-acclaimed Parisbased director/actor Yoshi Oida directs with musical director/conductor David Stern, son of Isaac Stern and principal conductor of Opera Fuoco in Paris. Based on the classic noh play Sumidagawa, the incandescent opera Curlew River was composed by 20thcentury British composer Benjamin Britten in 1964. The story follows a madwoman mourning the death of her young son who embarks upon a journey to his burial site with a ferryman. Though Britten set his opera in medieval Europe, it draws deeply from the original noh play not only in story but also in the austerity of theatrical and musical form. Info: 212-832-1155 or www.japansociety.org
April 18 Inoue Chamber Ensemble Merkin Concert Hall at Kaufman Center
129 West 67th Street, NYC
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Inoue Chamber Ensemble, the theme of the night will be “Eastern Trends in Classical to Contemporary Music,” as the ensemble performs works by Beethoven, Michio Miyagi, Yui Kitamura, David. Ashley White, and Akira Ifukube. Info: 212-501-3340 or www.kaufman-center.org
April 18, 20, 23, 28 The Juilliard School
Students Concerts The Juilliard School
60 Lincoln Center Plaza, NYC
Keiko Tokunaga, Violin Mayuko Katakura, Jazz piano Chihiro Shibayama, Percussion Satoru Ohashi, Trumpet Reiko Uchida, Collaborative Piano Yui Kitamura, Composition Violinist Keiko Tokunaga performs at 6:00pm and jazz pianist Mayuko Katakur performs at 8:00pm on April 18. Percussionist Chihiro Shibayama performs at 6:00pm and trumpet player Satoru Otashi performs at 8:00pm on April 20. Pianist Reiko Uchida will perform at 4:00pm on April 23. Composer Yui Kitamura performs at 8:30pm. These events are free. Info: 212-799-5000 or www.juilliard.edu
April 21 Lehman Center Presents
Saeko Ichinohe Dance Company Concert Hall, Lehman College
250 Bedford Park Blvd. West Bronx, NY
Saeko Ichinohe Dance Company is a unique group that bridges Eastern and Western as well as contemporary and ancient cultures. Throughout its 33-year history it has contributed to the aesthetic development of dance incorporating cultural heritage strongly influenced by Japanese tradition within a framework of contemporary dance. The program will include two new works by Saeko Ichinohe and Jeff Moen Revivals: “Pearl”, ‘Oiran’ (Courtesan) from “Utamaro”, and “Fire-Eating Bird”. Info: 212-757-2531, 718-960-8833 (Box Office) or www.lehmancenter.org
May 6, 2007 Salon Series No. 28 Tenri Cultural Institute
43A West 13th Street, NYC
Salon Series No. 28 will present Gagaku, Japanese court music, with a discussion of the history and tradition of Gagaku, along with a contemporary music composition based on Gagaku played by Nyoraku Schlefer on the Shakuhachi and Mutsumi Takamizu on the Koto. The program will include Etenraku and Ichikotsu. Info: 212-627-0265 or www.dancejapan.com
May 11& 12, 18 & 19 Work in Progress:
Yukio Mishima’s Modern Noh
Plays: Hanjo & The Lady Aoi Japan Society
333 East 47th Street, NYC
Revolutionary or repulsive? The arresting works of infamous novelist Yukio Mishima has elicited extreme responses over the decades. His modern Noh plays from the 1960s were radical adaptations of the seminal Noh classics, pitting stark traditional ideals against the dullness of modern existence. In this exploration of the impact of Mishima’s modern Noh plays, Leon Ingulsrud of the SITI Company stages a reading of Hanjo in which a young woman’s endless waiting for her lover transports her into a state of insanity; and New York-based director Kameron Steele and his company, The South Wing, stage a workshop of AOI! based on Mishima’s The Lady Aoi, a bizarre love triangle touched by supernatural jealousy. Starts at 7:30pm. Info: 212-832-1155 or www.japansociety.org
May 31 to June 2 Koosil-Ja’s mech [A] OUTPUT Japan Society
333 East 47th Street NYC
New York based choreographer/performance- technology artist Koosil-Ja presents a multimedia dance-performance with live 3-D video and elements of traditional noh music and choreography from the classic noh play Dojoji. The legends surrounding Dojo-ji Temple in Wakayama, southeast of Osaka, have inspired numerous noh and kabuki plays about the vengeful spirit of a spurned woman. Info: 212-832-1155 or www.japansociety.org
There’s nothing more beautiful and relaxing than walking through the park on a Spring day. Or is there? This year, the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) celebrates the 25th anniversay of Sakura Matsuri, New York’s Rite of Spring, making this walk in the park one of the best ever. This two day cherry blossom festival is marked by a series of events on this milestone weekend including Japanese arts, culture and performances. Start with the BBGs colection of over 220 cherry trees in 42 varieties that will be hard to miss, blooming in many colors during this year’s cherry blossom season. The BBG will host “Hanami,” a Japanese tradition of watching the trees blossom, from buds to full bloom. Don’t forget to see the graphic renditions of cherry trees that will be on display in the Japanese Botanical Arts Show. When spring is in the air, it will be a pleasure to walk through this park as cherry tree petals fall, knowing winter is gone until next year.
- Brooklyn Botanic Garden Sakura Matsuri
- April 28 and 29
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
1000 Washington Avenue, Brooklyn NY
Info: 718-623-7200 or www.bbg.org
- Other Cherry Blossoms Festivals in the New York Region :
- April 10th - 23rd
Essex County Cherry Blossom Festival
- April 27
Japan Society of Fairfield County “Ohanami”
- April 26
City College of New York Cherry Blossom Festival
Tel: 212-650-6378 Prof. Barbara Brooks
- May 6th
The Seventh Annual White Plains Japanese
Cherry Blossom Festival
Japan Day @ Central Park
Whether you are a fan of Japanese culture, food, games, people, or all of the above, Japan Day @ Central Park is the ideal opportunity for you to explore and learn about it all at this exciting and fun-filled event on June 3, 2007. If you like to exercise, there will be a four mile run and a kid’s run. But don’t stop there, booths will be set up in Rumsey Field, where you can try a variety of exciting foods. If entertainment is what you are looking for, an open-air stage will be set up to showcase a day’s worth of performances. Come celebrate real Japanese culture and see its influence on our own culture on this day of international exchange where East meets West. Best of all, this will take place in Central Park, one of the most relaxing and conveniently located parks in the city. So bring your family for this all day event and celebrate, sit, and enjoy the festivities!
The Japanese government recently bestowed awards on two distinguished individuals in honor of their lifetime achievements.
On November 7, 2006 at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, the Emperor awarded Henry A. McKinnell, Jr. Ph.D., the Chairman of Pfizer, with the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun for his outstanding contribution to the promotion of commerce between Japan and the United States, and for his work strengthening Japan’s international standing in the field of healthcare. Dr. McKinnell began his career at Pfizer, Japan in 1971. He was responsible for significant investment in the country. Later, as Chairman of the Business Roundtable, Dr. McKinnell worked to strengthen business ties between the U.S. and Japan. He also worked closely with the Japanese government to improve Japan’s investment climate.
On January 15, 2007 in Tokyo, the Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology awarded Tsung- Dao Lee, Professor at Columbia University and Director Emeritus of the RIKEN-BNL Research Center, with the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star for his outstanding contributions to the training and education of Japanese researchers, and for his promotion of academic exchange between Japan and the United States. Professor Lee is one of the world’s most prominent physicists. In 1957, Professor Lee shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Professor C. N. Yang for his work on the violation of parity law in weak interaction. In 1996, Japan and the United States established the RIKEN-BNL Research Center (RBRC) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York, and Professor Lee was appointed as the Center’s first director in 1997. Under his strong leadership the Center has made considerable achievements.
Where the Past Meets the Future
Kitakyushu is Kyushu’s northern most city which borders on Japan’s main island and is across from the Kanmon Straight. Visitors can enjoy the long variegated coastline which surrounds Mojiko- Port, the exotic atmosphere, and the cultural and industrialized wonders that can be experienced in Kitakyushu.
The city’s prosperity began approximately 400 years ago, but in 1901, Japan’s Industrial Revolution started as a result of the construction of the first government-managed steelworks company -Yahata Steel. The factory became the engine for the development of Japanese industry. Kitakyushu continues to be a gateway to Asia as well as a big industrial base. The city has highlyadvanced technologies such as robotics, automobile and service industries, and has overcome serious environmental pollution in the area.
There are three major areas in Kitakyushu; Mojiko Retro District, Castle Town Kokura and the Yahata Higashida area. Mojiko-Port originally opened as a trading port in 1889 and the distinctively beautiful Europeanstyle buildings such as Mojiko Station and the Old Moji Mitsui Club still remain to create a nostalgic atmosphere. The latter once had Dr. Einstein and his wife as guests. Kokura gives one a sense of Japanese flavor. Kokura Castle and the surrounding town have flourished since the Edo period. Tourists can visit the Tanga market and enjoy local fresh foods.
The Yahata Higashida area attracts the
most tourists now. Space World is the
world’s first Space Theme Park, operating
with the support of NASA. Guests can
experience what astronauts encounter in
space and visit the museums inside. Adjacent
to the park is the Museum of National
History & Human History, and the Environment
Museum that tells the story of
how Kitakyushu overcame environmental
A cable car ride at sunset gives a view of the spectacular lights below. For more details: www.kcta.or.jp
by Adrian Bennett (garden writer and photographer)
Japanese gardens are first and foremost compositions that depict the natural world poetically. Lafcadio Hearn - the Greek-Irish writer who wrote ten books interpreting Japan to Westerners -recognized this when he wrote in 1894 that the Japanese garden “is at once a picture and a poem; perhaps even more a poem than a picture.” Like the other great traditional arts of Japan, Japanese gardens reflect changing historical conditions, and hence one finds a considerable variety of styles. They include the large pond gardens of the Heian Period (794-1288); the early temple gardens, such as Ginkaku-ji and Saihoji, and the dry gardens (kare-san-sui, or “dry mountain water”), such as Daisenin and Ryoan-ji of the Muromachi Period (1333-1568) in Kyoto; and the large parklike stroll gardens (kaiyu-shiki) of the Edo Period (1600-1868), such as Kenrokuen in Kanazawa, Rikugien in Tokyo, and Ritsurin Koen in Takamatsu. Even today beautiful gardens are being created that build on this long tradition, not only in Japan, but in many countries around the world. Wonderful gardens can be found throughout the 43 prefectures of Japan. Many of them can be seen not only in temples, but at museums, restaurants, and ryokans (traditional inns). Perhaps the finest gardens in Japan - in the view of many experts - were constructed in the 1970s at the Adachi Museum of Fine Art in Shimane Prefecture. Japanese gardens can touch us deeply. How do they do this? One key is how they play with “opposites” - the flow of water against stone; the rough textures of stones mingled among the smooth shapes of carefully pruned shrubs; the juxtaposition of natural and artificial forms. All these elements are blended together to evoke a heightened sense of harmony with respect to our place in the natural world. A true understanding of the power of Japanese gardens comes only when we take the time to absorb their powerful influence on our deepest sensibilities. Their special beauty will stay with us long after we leave them.