NY Japan Cinefest 2017

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Last night I attended the first night of the 6th annual NY Japan CineFest 2017 at Asia Society.  This is one of my favorite cinematic events in the city, as it is a compilation of Japan-related short films.  As usual, there were many thought-provoking selections ranging from documentary to futuristic to artistic.

The Departure

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Last month’s Tribeca Film Festival featured the world premiere of the documentary The Departure directed by Lana Wilson.  It profiles Ittetsu Nemoto, a Buddhist priest whose lifework is suicide prevention.  In the group sessions he holds at his temple...

An Evening of Umami and Shokuiku

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Last night I had the opportunity to interpret for Chef Kiyomi Mikuni at an event at Japan Society entitled “Umami and Other Japanese Culinary Secrets.” Mikuni is an entertaining speaker whose wide-ranging presentation covered everything from how important it is to develop taste buds at a young age to working with Japanese children on 食育 (shokuiku, or dietary education). Mikuni runs the gourmet French restaurant Hotel de Mikuni in Tokyo, but his culinary journey started in a fishing village ...


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Last night I attended a screening of Martin Scorsese’s new film Silence, based on the 1966 novel 沈黙 (Chinmoku) by Shusaku Endo, himself a Japanese Catholic.  It is the story of a Jesuit missionary sent to 17th century Japan, who is played with great nuance by Andrew Garfield.  He and his followers endure horrible persecution during this period when 隠れキリシタン (Kakure Kirishitan or Hidden Christians) are targeted for their beliefs.  Having lived in Kyushu I had a vague sense of what had taken ...

JAPAN CUTS 2016 comes to a close

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This weekend marks the end of the 2016 JAPAN CUTS film festival.  Due to a business trip midway through I wasn’t around as much as I would have liked, but I was able to attend the beginning and end to see ...

New York Japan Cinefest

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Last week I had a chance to check out the 5th annual New York Japan Cinefest, whose mission is to introduce Japanese themed films and discover new talent in filmmaking.  In the past I have attended this ...

Wonder 500 Exhibition

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I arrived in DC yesterday to begin my first State Department interpreting assignment in a while.  I’m looking forward to working with my Okinawan group as we travel across the country learning about ...

Waku Waku +NYC and Sebastian Masuda

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[caption id="" align="alignright" width="305"] Sebastian Masuda with protege Kyary Pamyu Pamyu[/caption] WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations. This weekend I had the chance to visit “Waku Waku +NYC,” a new Japanese pop culture festival which ...

Round Trip Heart/Our Little Sister

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A business trip to Japan prevented me from viewing the majority of the films at this year’s Japan Cuts at Japan Society, but I was able to catch Round Trip Heart (ロマンス) during the festival’s opening week. ...


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Can’t believe it’s been almost a month since I’ve written here, but two weeks of that time was my amazing trip to Japan!  I wasn’t sure how spending Golden Week in Tokyo would be, but it was actually quite ...

Japanese Stars in Recent American Cinema

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Lately there have been a bonanza of films being screened here in the city made by American directors starring Japanese actors. One is Kumiko the Treasure Hunter, currently playing at IFC, Nitehawk Cinema and BAM.  It features the ever fabulous Rinko Kikuchi as a discontent OL who is dealing with a harassing boss, insipid colleagues and a mother who is nagging her to get married.  She is totally disconnected from the world around her, with her only salvation being her pet bunny and her ...

Japan Cuts!

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This weekend wrapped up Japan Society’s annual film festival Japan Cuts, and all of the films that I caught out of the 28 presented this year were wonderful.  I particularly enjoyed the opening film on the ...

Japan Town in New York? Why, it's St. Marks Place

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A lot of our readers and students of the Japanese language have all been to "Japan Town" in New York City. However, if you look on a map or read a guidebook, there's no official listing of Japan Town in New York. There's definitely a Chinatown and Koreatown (Koreatown is actually written on 32nd street) so where's the Japan Town? And why has it been called that? The "where" is easy to explain. St. Marks Place is actually another term for East 8th Street. The "Japan Town" location is ...