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 five-year anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
This month’s highlights include:
Tuesday, March 1, 8:00 p.m.
An Evening of Japanese Traditional Theatre
Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage), 881 Seventh Avenue
$50-$500, student discount tickets available at the box office
Starring kabuki actor Ebizo Ichikawa, this performance highlights traditional Japanese music by showcasing three different traditional Japanese theatrical art forms: kabuki, noh, and kyogen. It is rare, even in Japan, to see these performed in the same evening and on the same stage. Artistic Director of the Grand Japan Theater Denjiro Tanaka is the son of Tadao Kamei, a noh musician, and Sataro Tanaka, the daughter of kabuki musicians. His shared lineage made this collaboration possible.
Opens Friday, March 4
The Boy and the Beast
AMC Empire 25; Angelika Film Center; Bow Tie Cinemas Chelsea
The latest feature film from award-winning Japanese director Mamoru Hosoda (Summer Wars, Wolf Children)! When Kyuta, a young orphan living on the streets of Shibuya, stumbles into a fantastic world of beasts, he’s taken in by Kumatetsu, a gruff, rough-around-the-edges warrior beast who’s been searching for the perfect apprentice. Despite their constant bickering, Kyuta and Kumatetsu begin training together and slowly form a bond as surrogate father and son. But when a deep darkness threatens to throw the human and beast worlds into chaos, the strong bond between this unlikely pair will be put to the ultimate test—a final showdown that will only be won if the two can finally work together using all of their combined strength and courage. This limited theatrical engagement is presented in English dub and the original Japanese audio with English subtitles—check your local theater for availability and showtimes.
Of Ghosts, Samurai and War: A Series of Classic Japanese Film
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
$12, $10 students/seniors, $8 members
In its history spanning more than 100 years, Japanese cinema has produced some of the most admired films that continue to enrich the world cinema discourse. Masterpieces by such greats as Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon), Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu), and Kaneto Shindo (Onibaba) have proved their enduring influence on filmmaking and film appreciation.
The six films included in the series are set during Japan’s Middle Ages (12th to 17th century) and produced during the Japanese golden age of cinema in the 1950s and 1960s—a time when Japan’s memory of war was still vivid. Using a variety of narrative and visual techniques, these filmmakers present a humanist approach to understanding life during war: from the struggle for power, to the quest for justice, or even the mere fight for survival. These rarely screened 35mm film prints also represent the best of Japanese cinema for their visual designs, color schemes, music, narrative strategies and performance styles, offering a pristine and essential viewing experience.
Tuesday, March 8, 6:30 p.m.
3/11 and 9/11 Survivor Stories
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
$30, $25 students/seniors, $20 members
The Great East Japan Earthquake on March 11, 2011 and the ensuing tsunami and nuclear accident created almost unfathomable challenges and trauma for residents of Northern Japan. Five years later, this special Asia Society event will showcase the powerful stories of an outreach program that has joined the survivors, first responders and families of victims from the so-called “3/11” disaster with their counterparts who suffered their own traumas a decade earlier, after the attacks of September 11, 2001. Beginning in 2012, members of the 9/11 Tribute Center traveled to Japan on missions of compassion and community outreach to share their own experiences of tragedy, loss, recovery and resilience. For four years, these family members, survivors and first responders of the two disasters have traveled back and forth between Japan and the U.S., in an exchange that has yielded profound, life-changing results. This evening will feature representatives from both communities, a short documentary film, and a conversation about the power of human connection and healing.
Friday, March 11, 7:30 p.m.
Akiko Yano Trio featuring Will Lee and Chris Parker
Joe’s Pub, 425 Lafayette Street
Returning to Joe’s Pub for the second time this season, singer-songwriter Akiko Yano will be presenting a special evening of music with her longtime New York friends, Will Lee (bass, vocals) and Chris Parker (drums). They will showcase some of her favorite songs from the ’70s as well as selections from her new album, Welcome to Jupiter, which was released in Japan last September. The trio will also play some songs that you can only hear in this live and intimate setting.
March 11-June 12
In the Wake: Japanese Photographers Respond to 3/11
Japan Society Gallery, 333 East 47th Street
$12 students and seniors, $10, Japan Society members. Free on Friday nights, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
The catastrophic earthquake and tsunami that struck northeast Japan on March 11, 2011 and triggered an on-going nuclear crisis has been met with an overwhelming reaction in the arts, marking a profound shift in the contemporary Japanese cultural landscape. Opening five years to the day since 3/11, Japan Society’s presentation of In the Wake reveals a stunning range of photographic responses to the disaster and the artistic paths that lie ahead as Japan continues to rebuild. With over 90 photographic works by 17 of Japan’s leading visionaries, the exhibition invites viewers to experience the power and the poetry of art transcending unspeakable tragedy, forging a universal link that connects Japan to New York and beyond.
Monday, March 14, 7:00 p.m.
Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Pl
This “New Sensation Rock Entertainment Band” combines shigin, wagakki and rock band power! The group launched in April 2014, with their debut album Vocalo Zanmai, which broke the Top 5 in the Oricon weekly ranking charts and stayed in the Top 100 for 22 consecutive weeks. Their second album (Yasou Emaki) went to number one in the Oricon ranking and received the 57th Japan Record Award “Planning Prize” in September 2015. The smash tune “Senbon Zakura” received more than 30,000,000 views on YouTube. Following a sensation New Year’s Live 2016 performance at the legendary Nippon Budokan in January, WagakkiBand will push the boundaries even further with their debut New York performance.
March 15-16, 12:00 p.m.
Designer Sale Event: Fashions by Mieko Mintz
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
Free admission to AsiaStore
Born on the Japanese island of Kyushu, Mieko Mintz is attracted to ethnic fabrics, always searching for new textiles for her handcrafted apparel and accessories. Utilizing vintage Japanese kimonos, Indonesian batik, and Indian kantha, Mieko infuses fresh designs elements into her fashions that make every piece a unique one of a kind treasure with modern flair.
Opens Friday, March 18
Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway
Official Selection of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival! Written and directed by Naomi Kawase (The Mourning Forest, Suzaku), this graceful tale (adapted from the novel by Durian Sukegawa), centers on introverted loner Sentaro (Masatoshi Nagase, Mystery Train) who runs a tiny “dorayaki” (pancakes filled with “an,” a sweet red bean paste) stand in the suburbs of Tokyo. When 76-year-old Tokue (veteran actress Kirin Kiki, Still Walking, Chronicle of My Mother), persistently asks Sentaro to work in the shop’s kitchen, he reluctantly accepts. It soon turns out that in addition to having uncanny culinary skills and a mysterious communion with nature, Tokue has the ability to transform those around her, including Wakana (newcomer Kyara Uchida, real-life granddaughter of Kirin Kiki), a shy teenage schoolgirl who’s a regular at the shop. Thanks to Tokue’s sweet bean recipe, the little business soon flourishes, and with time, Sentaro and Tokue open their hearts to reveal old wounds and painful secrets. In Japanese with English subtitles.
Sunday, March 20, 8:00 p.m.
Japan Nite 2016
Knitting Factory, 361 Metropolitan Avenue (Brooklyn)
$12 advance, $15 day of show
The coolest Japanese indie rock, punk and obscure culture extravaganza in the world, Japan Nite is an annual showcase of Japanese bands at SXSW in Austin, which has introduced over 100 bands to the world from 1996 to present. Following SXSW, the tour visits the Eastern U.S., which includes New York, Baltimore and Chicago, then moves west to Long Beach, and San Francisco. This year’s lineup includes J-rock acts Tempalay, Atomic Stooges, REATMO, and the Roamers.
March 24-25, 8:00 p.m.
Recycling: Washi Tales
Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue
$30, $26 students/seniors, $22 members
Recycling: Washi Tales uses live performance to enliven human stories contained in sheet of “washi” (Japanese handmade paper) as it is recycled through time. Four tales of paper making from different periods of Japanese history unfold on stage with an extraordinary ensemble of performers and musicians, in a world created by distinguished paper artist, Kyoko Ibe. The Papermaker serves as narrator and guide as she creates something new from what she learns of the old. Washi Tales explores aesthetic and spiritual values of recycling, beyond practical environmental concerns, into the realms of history and the imagination. These performances are held in conjunction with the exhibition Kamakura: Realism and Spirituality in the Sculpture of Japan, on view at Asia Society Museum now through May 8.
March 30-31, 8:00 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.
Hiromi the Trio Project
Highline Ballroom, 431 West 16th Street
All great human passions—whether romantic, creative, inventive, or transformative—begin with a single spark. On her tenth album as a leader, Japanese pianist/composer Hiromi traces the path of the flame ignited by that spark as it consumes and inspires. Over the course of nine expressively charged songs, the listener is carried away on an impassioned spiritual journey that might tell the story of a personal discovery, a love affair, or the creation of the music itself.
Arriving April 1, Spark showcases the always thrilling sound of Hiromi’s Trio Project with her most narratively sweeping and emotionally overflowing set of music to date. The pianist finds her own spark in her interaction with her triomates of the last five years, contrabass guitarist Anthony Jackson (Paul Simon, Steely Dan, Chick Corea, The O’Jays) and drummer Simon Phillips (The Who, David Gilmour, Judas Priest, Toto, Jack Bruce). With Spark, the trio again exemplifies why DownBeat magazine has called them “one of the most exciting groups working in any genre today,” with the leader’s effusive, heartfelt virtuosity supported by Jackson’s vigorously fluid basslines and Phillips’ ability to be simultaneously propulsive and witty behind the kit.
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