From Disney to heavy metal to J-pop, November is just as colorful as the leaves tumbling through the air. Add to that a cutting-edge kimono exhibition, a Shakespearean samurai epic, and the largest event in the USA dedicated to love and sex, and you’ve got an irresistibly epic rundown.
This month’s highlights include:
Tuesday, Nov. 4, 7:00 p.m.
Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street
Formed in 2010, Babymetal brings a kawaii blend of traditional schoolgirl J-pop and death metal. Hot off the heels of their debut album released in the U.S. earlier this year, the band has been burning up the charts in Japan, where their live video for “Gimmie Choco!!” (lensed at the legendary Nipon Budokan in Tokyo) has racked up over 17 million views on YouTube to date. Endorsed by shredders like Marty Friedman (Megadeth) and Jeff Walker (Carcass) alike, Babymetal are prepared for a whole new audience on the eve of their Hammerstein debut.
Wednesday, Nov. 5, 7:30 p.m.
B.B. King Blues Club and Grill, 237 West 42nd Street
With guitar styles ranging from rock, blues, jazz and fusion to pop and soul, Richie Kotzen has built a remarkably diverse 25-year career as a guitarist, singer and songwriter. A veteran of numerous groups including the Winery Dogs, Kotzen’s Japan cred is extensive: He wrote the number one song “Shine” as a member of Mr. Big, which was used as the ending theme for the anime series Hellsing, has recorded an entire album of music from the anime series Gundam, and toured as the opening act on the Japanese leg of the Rolling Stones’ 2006 tour. The Kotzen Telecaster guitar has repeatedly been the #1 selling signature model guitar for Fender Japan. This special solo show will include selections from The Essential Richie Kotzen, the artist’s latest release, which caps a career of highlights in anticipation for his next studio album coming next year.
The Future of Kimono
Nippon Club Gallery, 145 West 57th Street
Kiyomi Kitagawa, a popular fashion designer and a representative of Atelier Bi-no-Sei, revives stylish and practical design dresses in harmony with modern lifestyle from traditional craftwork, a microcosm of Japanese sensibility that has been shaped by the passing of the “four seasons” since ancient times. These dresses show not only the “craftsman’s spirit” by seasoned artisans, but also her knowledge and experience as a textile garment designer. At this exhibition, 30 pieces of kimono dresses—some using fabric no longer produced—will be displayed with luxurious embroidery and a variety of techniques.
Friday, Nov. 7
Big Hero 6
See above link for theaters and showtimes
Following its rapturous debut at the Tokyo International Film Festival last month, Disney’s latest full-length animated feature (described by execs as “a love letter to Japanese culture”) is an action comedy featuring characters from a Marvel Comics series about brilliant robotics prodigy Hiro Hamada, who finds himself in the grips of a criminal plot that threatens to destroy the fast-paced, high-tech city of San Fransokyo. With the help of his closest companion, a robot named Baymax, Hiro joins forces with a reluctant team of first-time crime fighters on a mission to save their city.
Exxxotica Expo 2014
New Jersey Convention and Exposition Center, 97 Sunfield Avenue (Edison)
The country’s biggest celebration of all things adult, Exxxotica returns to the Garden State with special guest Asa Akira as she promotes her recently released debut book, Insatiable: Porn—A Love Story! At age 28, Asa Akira has already led an extremely unusual life. Educated at the United Nations International School, a highly selective private school in Manhattan, she eschewed the academic aspirations of her classmates and soon was earning a good living by stripping and working as a dominatrix at a sex dungeon. Akira has now built up a reputation for being one of the most popular, hardworking, and extreme actors in the business, winning dozens of awards for her more than 400 movies. In a world where porn is increasingly becoming part of the mainstream, Akira is one of very few articulate voices writing from the inside.
Saturday, Nov. 8, 12:30 p.m.
Winter Festival at J-LABO Brooklyn
300 Seventh Street (Brooklyn)
$20 suggested donation
Join J-COLLABO for its first-ever winter festival as it hosts an exciting variety of performances and exhibits including contemporary dance, collaborative art and photography exhibits, a Japanese magic show and a reading of Japans oldest historical essay “The Tale of the Pillow.” Also includes an amazake (a traditional sweet, low- or non-alcoholic Japanese drink made from fermented rice) workshop, a kanami chocolate with green tea tasting. Click here for a complete listing of the day’s events and performers.
Thursday, Nov. 13, 8:00 p.m.
Crossing Borders: Music Dialog of Two French Horns
Opera America Audition Recital Hall, 330 Seventh Avenue
Multi-award-winning composer Yuko Yamamura joins International Hans Hoyer artist Paco Rodriguez for this special concert! Yamamura is a jazz and classical French hornist, composer, and arranger. Born in Kobe, she started her musical studies as a singer at the age of seven. Originally studying classical, she also studied jazz—particularly improvisation with Hiroshi Munekiyo—at the Arrow Jazz Orchestra Music School. Hailing from Barcelona, Rodríguez is the assistant solo horn in the Barcelona Opera House, and is a guest teacher at the University of Miami and Oshkosh-Wisconsin University.
November 14-Dec. 4
Edo Pop: Modern Icons Meet an Ancient Art Form
41-26 27th Street (Long Island City)
For hundreds of years, ukiyo-e (or Japanese woodblock prints) has depicted heroes, villains, and monsters in every conceivable genre. These artists strived to create inventive and vibrant scenes of entertainment, a “floating world.” To this day, that tradition of depicting a “floating world” continues, especially in video games. To celebrate Japan’s contribution to the gaming world, illustrator Jed Henry has taken his favorite game characters, and returned them to the ukiyo-e style. Modern costuming has been traded for the medieval, but the essence of each character remains. With the help of Dave Bull, a craftsman trained in the art of Japanese woodblock printing, these illustrations are truly able to come to life. After Jed Henry designs each print, Dave Bull goes through an intricate process of preparing, carving the key block, carving the color blocks, and proof printing. In this manner, the designs are truly able to come to life in the ukiyo-e tradition. An opening reception will be held Friday, Nov. 14 at 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 15, 8:00 p.m.
Perfume World Tour 3rd
Hammerstein Ballroom, 311 West 34th Street
Formed in 2000 in Hiroshima by a trio of girls in the same performing arts academy, Perfume has been one of the biggest J-pop success stories of the past decade. Now, with the U.S. re-release of Perfume’s international breakthrough album LEVEL3, the electronic pop trio is gearing up for its debut North American performances as part of its “Perfume Worlds Tour 3rd,” a tour which also sees the group perform at cities around the globe including Taiwan, Singapore, and London. The updated LEVEL3 features a brand new radio edit of Perfume’s lively single “Spending All My Time” and an exclusive club remix of the track by DV&LM (Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike).
R and J
Lang Recital Hall at Hunter College, 695 Park Avenue
Prepare yourself for Samurai Shakespeare! R and J is an inventive retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in the Edo period. This version opens with the last scene of the original “Romeo and Juliet” where the parents of the young couple find their bodies, hand in hand. The investigation by Prince Escalus, the agony of Friar Laurence, and the romance of Romeo and Juliet unfolds in this suspenseful drama. All the characters are converted into Japanese samurai characters, emphasizing unique Japanese sentiments and philosophy, infused with thrilling Japanese sword-fighting, contemporary Japanese music, and powerful sword dance by the ensemble to express the war between two houses of this classic story.
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