It seems to be my trend to do my writeups about events well after the fact, but surely that just means they are enjoyed longer!
April 10th was the highly anticipated J-Cation hosted by the Japan Society here in NYC. I’ve noticed that Little Japan comes out in full force for the spring here, and a Japanophile like myself can fancy themselves transported overseas where the people, food, and culture are uniquely 日本.
The Japan Society had packed its beautiful space with delights. I went with my sister and while we could only make it there for the evening, we walked into a warm welcome and groovy atmosphere. Maybe no one says ‘groovy’ anymore, but I do.
Meg and I deposited our donation, rang the bell, and clapped our hands. As we walked in, the music immediately surrounded us in the beautifully lantern-lit rooms, but perfectly levelled for conversation. In one look we saw steaming food carts, cute girls in maid outfits, and…bar tokens!
I let my city girl sister (Meg) lead the way as I am a bit over my head in cool situations, and she suggested we pick up a drink and survey before deciding our next move. I ordered a Sapporo beer (I’ve seen the adverts all over the place) and Meg ordered sake. We turned around to see the DJ area with giant screen pumping out a mixture of J-Rock, Pop, and covers while the younger generations were talking and laughing. There was also a Japanese sweets stall for the even younger, who were demanding imported delicacies faster than the vendor could sell them.
The food cart selling skewered chicken began wafting over to us, and we picked up a couple of sticks each from the dancing kids in 鉢巻 (hachimaki). We headed up to the viewing gallery to eat before going in to the Utagawa Kuniyoshi exhibition.
It is always fascinating to observe the perfectly linear connection between Japanese drawing and print styles, dating from the Edo period to modern-day manga. The lines and expression in Kuniyoshi’s prints still jump off the page more strongly than a Death Note cover (sorry, my manga knowledge is very limited).
For more detailed shots of the exhibition, click on the thumbnail below:
After the tranquillity of the gallery, we joined in with the huge throng of hopefuls waiting to see if they could get a spot in the overflowing auditorium to see the music show. Meg and I had nabbed our tickets early, and so got prime seats.
Opening act Me&Mars were infectiously enthusiastic. They are: upstanding Naomi (she stands while she plays) on skins and vox, tiny Yukino with a mean bass and sexy boots, and shy guitarist Ivan who added backing vox and sang a track written by Naomi for male voice. Their sound went from astral to funky and back again. My sister and I nearly exploded with glee when we were treated to a slap bass solo – that was freaking awesome.
I had some preparation for what to expect in Asobi Seksu from my sister’s NYC culture blog, and she has also covered this performance – check it out here. Her music reviews are amazing, so I will just say that I was blown away. Asobi Seksu were a solid, mind-bending, aural sensation for me.
I got some atmospheric shots of their performance – click on the image below to go to the photo set on Flickr. My apologies to the bassist as all his shots were blurry! 😦
Being the elderly lady that I am, it was time to head home after the concert. My sister and I were buzzing about it in the cab ride home, and determined to get there earlier next year and sample some of the workshops and food choices.
For anyone close to New York in Spring 2011, keep a reminder to check the Japan Society website for spring goodness!