Hills Learning

Waku Waku +NYC and Sebastian Masuda


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 took place over two days across multiple venues in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.  According to the event’s homepage, it brings together the worlds of anime, manga, music, food, film, and fashion via exhibits, panels, screenings, and interactive events.  This blend of pop culture from Japan and Brooklyn was envisioned as “Cool Japan meets New York’s Coolest Borough.”  The name Waku Waku (わくわく) in Japanese means excitement, and this corresponds with the organizers’ goal of gathering artists from Japan in the hopes of inspiring more originality via intersection with the creative juices flowing in Brooklyn.

One of the featured artis ts was 43-year old Sebastian Masuda, an art director, visual artist and pioneer of Harajuku’s “kawaii” culture.  He was also instrumental in launching the career of Japanese pop-star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, known as the princess of kawaii.   This spring he introduced the Time After Time Capsule at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th Street/2nd Avenue, around the corner from Japan Society).  It showcases a nine-foot-tall giant sculpture of Kitty that New Yorkers can deposit personal objects into, and it will be on view until September 13.  His project has made its way throughout the world, beginning in Miami last year and heading to Amsterdam after New York, and will culminate in Tokyo for the Olympics in 2020.  For more about Masuda and his insights into the worldwide kawaii phenomenon, check out my interview with him in the October issue of Chopsticks!

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