Six Week Program Series Commemorates 100th Anniversary of Japan’s Cherry Tree Gift to America
Sakura – Spring Renews, Beauty Blooms
** With Kabuki Dance, an All-Day Culture Fest, Films, Japanese Sweets and Architecture Superstar Rem Koolhaas **
March 6-April 14, 2012
New York, NY -- Japan's 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees to the United States has grown into an annual celebration of sakura (or cherry blossoms) in Washington, DC, drawing millions of people to revel in a burst of bright pink petals that almost instantaneously flutter from the trees--a universal symbol of spring's arrival.
In conjunction with the New York and DC centennial celebrations of the gift, Japan Society commemorates the 100th anniversary beginning March 6 with Sakura – Spring Renews, Beauty Blooms, a six-week-long series of programs shaped around the many meanings and connotations of sakura—the spring of beauty, rebirth, resilience, and ephemerality--as well as a time of reflection on the one-year anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake. Presented in association with The Japan Foundation, Sakura—Spring Renews, Beauty Bloomsincludes film screenings, performances, lectures and workshops, culminating with the annual all-day j-CATION culture festival on April 14.
The series kicks off March 6 with an appearance by world-renowned architect Rem Koolhaas, whose new book examines the rise of Japan's design and economic prowess from the cataclysms of World War II. On March 21 and 22, workshops and demonstrations help home cooks elevate their craft of making wagashi, traditional Japanese confections. In addition, a haiku workshop with esteemed Japanese and American writers takes place March 31.
From March 23-April 16, ten films capture Japanese cinema's unique beauty of transience, commonly known as mono no aware, which is best illustrated by the delicate storm of falling cherry blossoms. Highlights include Takeshi Kitano’s rare arthouse work Dolls, Nagisa Oshima’s gay samurai masterpiece, Taboo; Mika Ninagawa’s flamboyant Sakuran, based on the popular manga; and a timely rerun of one of the best adaptations of the classic story of The 47 Ronin by Hiroshi Inagaki (being remade as a Hollywood film starring Keanu Reeves and an all-star Japanese cast later this year).
From March 29-31, the Kabuki Dance program gives New Yorkers the rare opportunity to see the elegant and refined art form of nihon buyo--centuries old Japanese dance, led by master dancer Bando Kotoji to the accompaniment of live music. Among four classic that range from tragic to celebratory is Yoshino-yama, set on the mountain famous for its magnificent cherry blossoms.
Finally, the Sakura series comes to a rousing conclusion on April 14 with j-CATION, Japan Society's annual culture festival. With a sakura theme throughout, participants can take part in 12 hours of workshops, language lessons, craft making, art, film, music concerts and a Japanese style game show.
'SAKURA – SPRING RENEWS, BEAUTY BLOOMS' SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
Tuesday, March 6, 2012, 6:30 pm
Metabolism, the first Asian avant-garde architectural movement, was founded in 1959 by young Japanese architects, theorists and designers like Kisho Kurokawa and Kenzo Tange against a background of rapid postwar economic growth in Japan. Internationally acclaimed architect Rem Koolhaas, who co-authored Project Japan: Metabolism Talks (Taschen 2011) with Hans Ulrich Obrist, speaks about the movement, its importance and its enormous impact on contemporary architecture. Followed by a book signing reception. $16/$12 members, seniors and students.
Wednesday, March 21 a t 6:30 pm
Wagashi, traditional Japanese confections, have been enjoyed throughout history in Japan. Though typically made out of bean paste, sugar and rice, wagashi are crafted in a wide variety of shapes and colors, with seasonality regarded as extremely important. In this talk and tasting, Keiko Nakayama, archivist of Toraya Confectionary Archive, introduces the delectable history and vibrant seasonal traditions of wagashi. The program includes a demonstration by chefs from Toraya. Moderated by The New York Times' Julia Moskin. Followed by a tasting reception. $14/$10 Japan Society members, seniors and students.
Thursday, March 22; two sessions at 2:00 pm and 6:30 pm
Similar to pottery or sculpture, crafting wagashi is an expression of form and art. In this hands-on workshop taught by chefs from Toraya, participants learn to shape bean paste into beautiful wagashi pieces. The chefs also demonstrate more complicated wagashi forms. Each identical session runs about 70 minutes and is limited to 20 people. $30/$25 Japan Society members, seniors and students.
As Cherry Blossoms Fall: Films and Scenes of Sakura
March 23-April 14
From classics of the golden age (by Tomu Uchida and Hiroshi Inagaki, among others) to contemporary masterworks (Hirokazu Kore'eda), this series captures the integration of the sakura theme in Japanese filmmaking, particularly the jidai-geki genre. In what could be described as a distinctively Japanese manner, these films are less about events and actions than states of being and how they are affected by the implacable passage of time. Transience sets the tone--at once wondrous and fleeting--and informs a specific aesthetic to create a unique cinematic universe, full of both expressive intensity and visual reserve. All films are in Japanese with English subtitles. Tickets to each film: $12/$9 Japan Society members, students and seniors, except Abacus and Sword on April 8, which is FREE, and Killing in Yoshiwara, which is included in the j-CATION culture festival ticket purchase, $10/$5 members.
Friday, March 23, 7:30 pm
Acclaimed director Takeshi Kitano's tenth and most lyrical and poetic film. Focusing on three couples and the overpowering love that both drives and dooms them, the film is inspired by the beauty of traditional Japanese bunraku puppet theater. (2002, 113 min.)
After the Flowers (Hana no Ato)
Saturday, March 24, 7:00 pm
Adapted from a short story by Fujisawa Shuhei, an exquisitely mounted second feature by director Nakanishi Kenji in which all emotions are beneath social surfaces and swordplay is held back to only two life-changing fights. If Jane Austen had ever written an Edo-period love story or Ozu Yasujiro directed a swordplay drama, it might have looked a little like this. (2009, 107 min.)
Sunday, March 25, 7:00 pm
In this thrilling drama by the legendary Japanese director Nagisa Oshima (In the Realm of the Senses, Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence), Japan's rigid samurai code is threatened by the emotional whirlwinds of passion and desire. Set in 1865 Kyoto, the story centers on a samurai militia unit that fiercely defends the Shogunate. Desperately in need of new recruits, the unit enlists 18-year-old Kano, a fearless warrior whose mesmerizing good looks immediately intrigue his fellow students, superiors and even his captain (Beat Takeshi, Fireworks and Brother). Before long, Kano's bewitching beauty stirs up jealousy and competition within the militia. After a series of mysterious murders provoke further suspicion, disorder erupts. (1999, 100 min.)
Friday, April 6, 7:00 pm
Set in 1702, Hirokazu Kore'eda's (Maborosi, After Life) latest is a black comedy-drama that deconstructs the myth of the brave samurai warrior and the bushido code of seeking honor through revenge, and offers a different take on the historical tale of the 47 loyal retainers. (2006, 127 min.)
Saturday, April 7, 1:00 pm
Chushingura means "loyalty," and that potent Japanese theme runs like hot blood throughout this stately samurai epic. It's often called the Gone with the Wind of Japanese cinema, and while that may be a fitting cultural parallel, it gives an inaccurate impression of the film, based on one of Japan's most enduring and oft-interpreted historical events. A simmering drama set during the Tokugawa shogunate in 1701, it centers on 47 loyal samurai who seek vengeance against the arrogant elder statesman who caused their master's ritual suicide. (1962, 207 min.)
Shinsengumi Chronicles: I Want To Die a Samurai (Shinsengumi Shimatsuki)
Saturday, April 7, 5:00 pm
This action-packed epic stars Ichikawa Raizo as an honest man who joins the Shinsengumi out of admiration for its leader, Isami Kondo (Tomisaburo Wakayama), and because he wants to die as a samurai. But as his involvement grows, reality and idealism come into deadly conflict. (1963, 93 min.)
Saturday, April 7, 7:00 pm
Sold into the red light district as a young girl during the Edo period, foul-mouthed, spunky Kiyoha climbs the ladder to become the oiran (head courtesan) after failing to escape from the brothel. In her directorial debut, acclaimed young art photographer Mika Ninagawa brings this popular Japanese manga to the screen with lavish and vibrant period costumes and gorgeous candy-colored sets. (2007, 111 min.)
Sunday, April 8, 5:00 pm
A mountain man beheads his many wives to prove his love to an alluring woman he meets in an enchanted forest. (1975, 95 min.)
Sunday, April 8, 7:30 pm
An accounting geek with no swordfighting talent, Naoyuki is hardly your run-of-the-mill. Nonetheless, he defends his lord and family faithfully, samurai style, using an unlikely weapon: the abacus. With a nudge to Japan’s romantic view of the office worker as modern-day samurai, Abacus and Sword reimagines the classic samurai drama as it follows Naoyuki and his family through the final years of the ancient shogunal regime. Best Supporting Actress (Keiko Matsuzaka), Best Art Direction, 20th Japan Film Critic Award. (2010, 129 min.)
Killing in Yoshiwara A.K.A. Heroes of the Red-Light District (Yotomonogatari: Hana no Yoshiwara hyaku-ningiri)
Saturday, April 14, 3:00 pm
**Entry included with j-CATION festival pass
The film that led David Shipman to declare Uchida "the equal of Mizoguchi and Kinugasa," Killing in Yoshiwara ranks with Uchida's finest postwar work. This dark melodrama's sudden and violent end in a shower of cherry blossoms is one of the most impressive scenes in Uchida's canon. (1960, 109 min.)
Thursday & Friday, March 29 & 30 at 7:30 pm; Saturday March 31 at 2:00 pm
To the accompaniment of live music, master dancer Bando Kotoji performs four vibrant works from his vast repertoire, including two dances from the kabuki repertoire: Yoshino-yama (Yoshino Mountain), set on the mountain famous for its magnificent cherry blossoms; and Cho no Michiyuki (The Last Journey of Two Butterflies), about two lovers who are reunited as butterflies in the afterworld. The program also includes the celebratory Sanbaso dance, and the dramatic and tragic Tamatori Ama (The Pearl Diver) dance. $50/$40 members; limited availability opening night tickets $75/$55, including prime seating and private MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception.
Saturday, March 31, 10:15 am-12:15 pm
Together with Bando Kotoji, master nihon buyo dancer of The Bando School of Japanesetraditional dance, participants in this workshoplearn everything from basic kabukidance (nihon buyo) footwork and fundamentaltechniques to a simple dance piece fromthe traditional repertory. Participants willhave the opportunity to work with a fan andpractice typical male and female charactergestures. Some physical performance experience is preferred; participants should wear comfortable clothing and bring a pair of socks; maximum 24 people. $40/$35 members; observation tickets available after regular tickets sell out.
Saturday, March 31, 10:30 am-Noon
Long popular outside of Japan, haiku have even been used in New York City traffic (“Cars crossing sidewalk / Worst New York City hotspot / To run into friends”). In this hands-on workshop, Japanese haiku poet Sho Otaka and American haiku poet John Stevenson teach how to write haiku using three lines of 17 or fewer syllables, as well as how to use kigo, a defined word or phrase that symbolizes the season of the poem, such as cherry blossoms in the spring. Limited to 20 people. $16/$12 Japan Society members, seniors and students.
Saturday, April 14, 11:00 am-11:00 pm
Japan Society's third annual all-day j-CATION culturefestival invites everyone to experience Japan’s sakura season without ever leaving New York City. Guests are transported to ablossom-filled springtime haven throughworkshops, crafts andlanguage lessons; a classic film screening;a Japanese-style game show (audience participationrequired!); a live music concert;access to Japan Society's major spring exhibit Deco Japan; and a hana-mi (cherryblossom viewing) lounge with seasonallyappropriate drinks and snacks to purchase. More at www.japansociety.org/jcation. $10/$5 members and children under 12/FREE for children 2 years and under.
Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. In a simple ceremony on March 27, 1912, First Lady Helen Herron Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador, planted the first two trees from Japan on the north bank of the Tidal Basin in West Potomac Park. Today, more than a million people visit Washington, DC each year to admire the blossoming cherry trees and attend events that herald the beginning of spring in the nation’s capital. More at www.nationalcherryblossomfestival.org/.
In addition to Sakura—Spring Renews, Beauty Blooms, Japan Society presents One Year Later: Commemorating the One-Year Anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake & Tsunami March 6-20, marking the anniversary of the disasters in Japan and remembering the victims with a day of reflection on March 11, including a moment of silence presided by Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki at 2:46pm; a mini-exhibit of children’s artwork from the Tohoku region; doll making for children living in the affected regions; documentary screenings, including recent Academy Award nominee The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom; Memory: Things We Should Never Forget, a photographic exhibit illustrating the disaster’s human tragedy and the optimism and resilience of local people struggling to rebuild; and art and craft making events for families to share with children in Japan. Additional major March events include the film series Love Will Tear Us Apart(March 2-18) and Japan Society Gallery’s spring exhibition Deco Japan: Shaping Art and Culture, 1920-1945 (March 16-June 10).
Founded in 1907, Japan Society is an American nonprofit committed to deepening mutual understanding between the United States and Japan in a global context. Now in its second century, the Society serves audiences across the United States and abroad through innovative programs in arts and culture, public policy, business, language, and education.
Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street between First and Second avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 and 7 subway at Grand Central or the E and V subway at Lexington Avenue). Tickets may be purchased in person at Japan Society, by calling the box office at 212-715-1258, or by visiting www.japansociety.org. For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit the website.
Sakura—Spring Renews, Beauty Blooms is presented in association with The Japan Foundation. Wagashi: Japanese Confections, Seasonal Treats is co-presented with The Japan Foundation. Lecture Programs at Japan Society are generously supported by Toyota Motor North America, Inc. Japan Airlines is the exclusive Japanese Airlines sponsor of Lecture Programs at Japan Society. United Airlines is the exclusive U.S. Airlines sponsor of Lecture Programs at Japan Society. Additional support is provided by Chris A. Wachenheim and the Sandy Heck Lecture Fund. As Cherry Blossoms Fall: Films and Scenes of Sakura is co-presented with The Japan Foundation. Japan Society’s 2011–2012 Film Programs are generously supported by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund. Additional support is provided by The Globus Family, Kenneth A. Cowin, David S. Howe, Omar Al-Farisi, Jeffrey Catanzaro, Dr. Tatsuji Namba, Randall I. Stempler, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Japan Society’s new projection screen was made possible by The Globus Family and Kenneth A. Cowin. Kabuki Dance is presented in association with The Japan Foundation. The five-city East Coast tour of the Kabuki Dance program is organized by Japan Society and funded by The Japan Foundation in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Japan’s gift of cherry trees to Washington, DC and New York City. MetLife Meet-the Artists Reception support is provided by MetLife Foundation. Major support for Japan Society 2011–2012 Performing Arts Programs is provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with leadership gifts from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Globus Family, Kyocera Corporation, The Starr Foundation, and Toyota Motor Corporation. Additional major support is provided by the Odawara Art Foundation. MetLife Foundation is a Corporate Partner of Japan Society’s 2011–2012 Performing Arts season. Japan Society is also grateful to the following individuals, foundations, and government agencies for their generous support: Dr. John K. Gillespie; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.; Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II; Mr. Norton Belknap; Mr. Terry Brykczynski and Ms. Andrea Miller; Ms. Hiroko Onoyama; Howard and Sarah Solomon; Mr. Alex York; and Paula S. Lawrence. New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Transportation assistance is provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. j-CATION is generously supported by Mitsubishi International Corporation and Kikkoman Corporation. Game show grand prize is courtesy of United Airlines. Additional support is provided by Mr. Toby S. Myerson and Susan J. Onuma, Esq.
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Shannon Jowett, 212-715-1205, firstname.lastname@example.org
Kuniko Shiobara, 212-715-1249, email@example.com