Stay warm this winter with some hot local events, from the debut performance of one of Japan’s most successful live acts, another performance from one of the country’s biggest crossover stars, and an annual showcase that brings the sights (and tastes) of Japan to vivid life.
This month’s highlights include:
Saturday, Feb. 1, 6:00 p.m.
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
The final entry of the film series Vengeance Is Shohei Imamura! Yasuko was exposed to black rain, the radioactive fallout from the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Years later, she and her townsmen continue to rebuild their life and endure the aftermath. At an age ripe for marriage, Yosuko has been rejected by man after man for fear of radiation, even though she has shown no signs of any illness. The film juxtaposes present-day struggles with flashbacks to scenes of wartime devastation. A departure from Imamura’s usual interest in bawdy human behavior, this film brings him closer to his early mentor Ozu, who is known for his restrained and subdued study of quiet dignity and for whom Imamura acted as assistant director.
Tuesday, Feb. 4
Akira Toriyama’s epic manga series—one of the most popular of all time—makes its English-langage debut in full color, graphic novel-size in print and digital editions! Son Goku is the greatest hero on Earth. Five years after defeating the demon king Piccolo, he’s grown up and has a family. But what is the real reason for Goku’s incredible strength? A visitor from outer space arrives bearing terrible news—Goku is an alien, and the visitor, Raditz, is Goku’s brother! When Raditz turns out to be a ruthless killer, Goku must fight his incredibly strong brother to save his family and the entire human race. A surprising alliance may be Earth’s last hope: Goku will team up with his old enemy Piccolo to save the world!
Tuesday, Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m.
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street
$30 reserved, $35 premium
Akiko Yano returns to Joe’s Pub with her longtime New York friends/virtuoso musicians Will Lee and Chris Parker, answering overwhelming demand from the fans who caught their previous go-round in November 2012. See the pop and jazz chanteuse whom Jon Pareles of the New York Times calls "a world class songwriter with a clear, gentle, wide-ranging voice. She is also an accomplished, endearing performer who might be a Japanese Carole King, Joni Mitchell or Meredeith Monk…"
Wednesday, Feb. 5
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
$12, $8 seniors/students
Japan's playful and avant-garde take on Victorian-era clothing, known as Lolita, has created a vibrant fashion subculture that started on the streets of Harajuku and has spread overseas. Gwynn Galitzer, performance artist and founder of Dirty Bird Productions, will moderate a panel featuring former Kawaii Ambassador Misako Aoki, appointed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 2009, Carolyn Dee, author of the popular Lolita blog F Yeah Lolita and administrator of the largest English-speaking Lolita online community, and Christina Gleason, researcher of Lolita culture, author of the blog Ramble Rori and founder of the first Northeast USA alternative fashion conference, RuffleCon. The panel will delve into Lolita fashion and offer a playful look into the subculture’s origins and development. Baby the Stars Shine Bright will show a collection of Lolita fashions direct from Japan chosen specifically for this event. Followed by a meet and greet wine reception with Misako Aoki.
Sunday, Feb. 9, 3:00 p.m.
Tenri Cultural Institute, 43A West 13th Street
$15, $10 seniors/students
Presented by Sachiyo Ito & Company, the prevailing theme of this year’s Salon Series entries is “Ma,” the particular sense of space and time in Japanese arts and culture. The first program investigates Ma in creating sacred space and time through sutra chanting and writing, music and dance improvisation.
Guest artists include Kaoru Watanabe (flutist/drummer), Satoshi Takeishi (percussionist), and Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki (calligrapher).
Sunday, Feb. 9, 7:00 p.m.
Best Buy Theater, 1515 Broadway
Named after the one o’clock practice times from the band’s early days, ONE OK ROCK formed in 2005 in Japan and have been a steady recording and touring act ever since. Their music combines elements of emo, rock and heavy metal, and their aggressive live performances are among the most raved about in Japan today (which reached new heights following their sold out performance at the Nippon Budokan in 2010). This month, ONE OK ROCK makes its U.S. debut, bringing their propulsive live act to New York for the very first time.
Wednesday, Feb. 12, 6:00 p.m.
Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, 145 West 57th Street
$40, $30 members
This special event held at JCCI HQ will include a gallery viewing of the exhibit Japonism in Contemporary Arts, which introduces artworks inspired by Japanese culture created by contemporary, world-renowned artists, whose pieces have appeared in the MoMA Collection and the Venice Biennale. The event will also include a performance by Panama-born artist, musician and composer Micah Gaugh, who will play original compositions inspired by Japan. The viewing and performance will be followed by a networking reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres. RSVP at firstname.lastname@example.org or (212) 246-8001.
Friday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.
158 Bleecker Street
$20 advance, $25 day of show
Whoever thought when “Know Your Chicken” came out in the mid-’90s it would make such a mark on the culture? Fifteen years since their last studio album (which precluded a decade-long hiatus), Cibo Matto have returned to do the same for Hotel Valentine. Their newest release—on Saint Valentine’s Day, natch—finds Miho Hatori and Yuka C. Honda constructing a rich concept album, a love story amid the ghosts traversing the hallways of a hotel. Underneath the lush sonic palate, they have created the soundtrack to an invisible film as they’ve continued to refine their sound and remain fully committed to their ethos of drawing upon a kaleidoscope of genres like hip-hop, Brazilian music, African and Latin jazz, and pop into their unclassifiable mix.
Monday, Feb. 24. 8:00 p.m.
B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 West 42nd Street
$30 advance, $35 day of show
Pianist and humanitarian Keiko Matsui is an icon of contemporary jazz. With over 1.2 million units sold in the U.S. alone and sold-out appearances at concert halls across the world, she is one of the most recognized artists in the genre. Her elegant piano melodies and gentle jazz grooves have enormous appeal and never disappoint her loyal fan base, which she has cultivated with over 20 albums and hundreds of stunning live shows. This year marks the 25th anniversary following the release of her solo debut A Drop of Water, which will be celebrated by an intimate performance in the heart of Times Square.
Wednesday, Feb. 26, 6:30 p.m.
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
$15, $12 students/seniors, $10 members
Maritime disputes in East Asia have surged to new heights, with the contested Senkaku/Diaoyu islands damaging relations between China and Japan, the region’s largest economies and traditional rivals. China’s recent announcement of a contested air defense zone has provided a rallying point for political forces in Japan who support re-militarization. What are the implications for the rest of Asia? Guest speakers include Daniel Blumenthal, Director of Asian Studies at the American Enterprise Institute; Jim Sciutto, Chief National Security Correspondent at CNN; Sheila Smith, Senior Fellow for Japan Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations; and moderator Orville Schell, the Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S-China Relations at Asia Society.
Thursday, Feb. 27, 6:30 p.m.
Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street
$12, $8 seniors/students
Toshio Tanahashi, founder of Zecoow Culinary Institute, explores the philosophy, history and delights of Shojin Ryori, vegetarian Buddhist cuisine. This unique cuisine first came to Japan with the spread of Buddhism in the sixth century, and aims to achieve a purifying of the body and training of the mind through the dietary habits of a vegetarian lifestyle. Come discover the savory vegetable dishes that make up this delicious style of food, learn how to prepare a variety of dishes through an onstage demonstration, and sample them yourself at the post-event tasting reception.
Feb. 28-March 2
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street
$17-$45, children under 18 free
New York City’s annual international spectacular returns, so bring the whole family along for an unforgettable world tour. Explore over 500 destinations across the globe, discover travel tips from experts (or book your own holiday), and enjoy a celebration of cultural traditions and international flavors. Last year featured 430 exhiitors from 150+ nations, and this year promises to be the biggest one yet!
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