TJ

TJ

Thursday, 19 December 2013 13:26

The Platters are still Going Strong

With 4 #1 hits and 40 charting singles on the Billboard Hot 100 since 1955, the Platters are still going strong. Known for such hits as "The Great Pretender", "Only You", "Earth Angel" and "Smoke Gets in your Eyes", the Platters are led by B.J. Mitchell, a member who was brought into the group by original recording member, Paul Robi. Under B.J., the group has performed all over the world for the last 44 years. On November 20, 2013, the Platters performed in Brazil with the great Carnival band of Salvador, Olodum. This collaborative performance represented a melding of traditional African and Afro-Brazilian drum-based compositions and the timeless classics of the Platters.

Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00

Senjaku Nakamura

Senjaku Nakamura

Keeping the Kabuki Tradition

From his great-great-grandfather Kanjaku Nakamura III to his son Toranosuke Nakamura, Senjaku Nakamura and his family have been keeping the tradition of kabuki alive. Senjaku debuted at the famous Kabuki-za theater in 1967 and is a talented and trained onnagata, a male actor who plays female roles in kabuki.
Interview by Hana Kobayashi and Chisato Kato

TJ: How did you get started in your career as a kabuki actor?
NAKAMURA: I made my debut as a kabuki actor at Kabuki-za in Tokyo when I was six years old. Based on the tradition that an actor will succeed if he starts training on June 6 at the age of 6, I started training that day. I made my debut in November of that year. The performance was dedicated to the first Ganjiro Nakamura, my grandfather, on the 33rd anniversary of his death.

TJ: As the member of a kabuki family, what do you want to hand down to your descendants of what you have inherited from your ancestors?
NAKAMURA: Our family is Kamigata (Osaka)-oriented and is self-taught. We learned to act by watching and imitating veterans. It is significantly different to Edo (Tokyo) kabuki. I suggest that future kabuki actors learn how to act by watching veterans, as this is essential for developing a high level of professionalism.

TJ: You play different roles on the same day. Is there anything you do to prepare for that?
NAKAMURA: Nothing special. However, since it is impossible to change my body shape in a single day when I play both male and female characters, I put a cotton pad called a Kiniku under the costume, or I make myself look fatter or skinnier during the wig fitting. I can also vary my appearance with makeup. Also, I have to be careful with my voice. I focus on abdominal voice production in order not to crack my voice. For a female role, I use the highest tone of my own voice because it is difficult to convey emotions in falsetto. Training in Nagauta or Gidayu would help in gaining the ability to create high-pitched sounds.

TJ: You have given performances in foreign countries such as the U.S. and Germany. Did you feel anything different from what you feel in Japan?
NAKAMURA: I performed in the U.S., Germany, the U.K., Italy, Romania and Japan. Of course the responses were different depending on the audience’s nationalities; but more importantly, the responses are different depending on the program. Receiving a standing ovation or curtain call, even in Japan, is not attributed to the audience’s nationality but to the quality of program. In other words, a play is universal. A good play is acclaimed regardless of where it is performed. I was told that I couldn’t expect a standing ovation like in Japan on the first day of performances in Germany, but Natsumatsuri Naniwa Kagami by Heisei Nakamura-za received a full standing ovation.

TJ: 歌舞伎役者としてキャリアをスタートさせ た経緯をお聞かせ願えますか?
ナカムラ:初舞台は 6 歳(1967 年)、東京歌 舞伎座の舞台でした。日本の伝統で 6 歳 6 月 6 日に稽古事を始めると上達するという言い伝え があり、私も 6 歳 6 月 6 日から日本舞踊を始め、 11 月に歌舞伎役者としてのスタートを切りま した。その公演は祖父初代中村鴈治郎の 33 回 忌興行で、その機会に合わせての初舞台となり ました。

TJ: 代々歌舞伎業を営まれてきたご一族である と存じます。扇雀様がご先祖から伝えられ、 守られてきたものの中で、これから扇雀様ご自 身がご子孫に残し伝えていきたいと最もお考え になるもの / ことは何ですか?
ナ カムラ:私達の家系は上方 ( かみがた ) 即ち 大阪系の役者です。その流れは自分で工夫する ことに活路を見出す教えになっています。です から、ひたすら先輩の舞台を観て真似て、そこから自分自身の頌演技を生み出していきます。 これは、江戸歌舞伎と大きく違う点と言えます。 ですから子孫や後輩には、先輩の舞台から学び お客様に喜んで頂ける、納得して頂ける舞台を 創り上げるよう言いたいです。とにかく、プロ である意識を高めることです。

TJ: 同じ日に異なった役を演じられることがお ありになるのですね。事前準備として何か特別 に / 大切にされていることはおありになるので しょうか?
ナ カムラ:特にはありませんが、女性と男性の 役を演じる時に体型を 1 日の中で変化させるこ とは不可能ですので、衣裳の下に肌肉(きにく) と呼ばれる綿を詰めたものを着込んだり、かつ ら合わせの段階で太って見せたり痩せて見せた りする工夫をします。また化粧によってもその 変化を付けることができます。ただ、注意すべ きは声です。音の高さが違うので声を潰さぬよ うに腹式での発声に集中します。女形で裏声を使うことはなく、地声の一番高い部分を使いま す。なぜなら、裏声は感情が伝わりにくいから です。これも長唄や義太夫という音曲を稽古す ることにより、次第に高い音が出るようになり ます。

TJ: これまでアメリカ、ドイツなどで国際的に 歌舞伎公演をなさってきました。日本公演での 観客からの反響とは異なったものを海外でお感 じになったことはありますか?
ナカムラ:アメリカ・ドイツ・イギリス・イタ リア・ルーマニアそして日本と公演してきまし たが、それぞれの国で確かに反応は違います。 お国柄といいますかそれぞれの特徴はあります が、それよりも演目によっての反応が違うとい うことが重要だと思います。スタンディングオ ベーションやカーテンコール、今では日本でも 起こるようになりましたが、それはお国柄とい うより演目の内容に寄ることが大きいと思いま す。言い換えれば演劇は万国共通語で有るといえるのではないでしょうか。いいものには素直 に反応する。ドイツ公演の初日前に「ドイツは 日本と同じでスタンディングにはならないと思 います。」と言われていましたが、平成中村座 の「夏祭浪花鏡」は客席総立ちでした。

Saturday, 07 December 2013 00:00

Kenny Endo

Marching to the Beat of a Different Drum

Kenny Endo Talks Taiko

Taiko performer, composer and teacher Kenny Endo has spent 35 years paving new paths in the taiko genre of drumming, blending Japanese taiko with world music. Among his many distinctions are an M.A. in ethnomusicology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, an artist residency at the Lincoln Center Institute in New York, and certificates of honor from the Honolulu City Council and the House and Senate of the State of Hawaii. He has performed for Princess Diana, Prince Charles, Michael Jackson and Prince, and he has opened for The Who. He has performed with singer Bobby McFerrin, the Hong Kong Philharmonic, the Honolulu Symphony and the Tokyo Symphony, and he is featured on the soundtracks for Francis Ford Coppola’s “Apocalypse Now” and Kayo Hatta’s film “Picture Bride.” Tokyo Journal caught up with Kenny to see how he continues to tread new ground for this ancient instrument.

Sunday, 08 December 2013 00:00

FAKY

FAKY is the Real Thing

Japan’s New Girl Group has Global Appeal

Add a pinch of J-pop, a dash of K-pop and a hint of Europop glazed with an American-pop sound and you get FAKY. This five-member, biracial and bilingual girl group consists of Anna, Lil’ Fang, Mikako, Diane and Tina. The dance and vocal group recently released its 1st video, “Better Without You,” featuring a fusion of world-class music with the fashion and culture of Tokyo. Their website describes each of their personalities and backgrounds: Anna - the New Zealand-born leader; Lil’ Fang - an aggressive Tokyoite; Mikako - the “cute” one from Fukuoka; Diane - a half-Japanese/half-American Okinawan beauty and Tina - a half-Japanese/half-American “bohemian” from Atlanta, Georgia.

Sunday, 08 December 2013 00:00

Dempagumi

Japanese Pop Idol Group, Dempagumi.inc Star in “Innocent Lilies”

Dempagumi.inc is a Japanese idol group, composed of six girls: Mirin Furukawa, Risa Aizawa, Nemu Yumemi, Eimi Naruse (Eitaso), Ayane Fujisaki (Pinky), and Moga Mogami. The group belongs to Dear Stage, Akihabara’s most famous idol live house and bar where they perform regularly. All of the members are fans [otaku] of anime, manga, games, and costumes. The group performed at Tokyo Collection and has collaborated with leading fashion designers including Mikio Sakabe. They attract attention overseas as well and have performed at fashion events in Jakarta, Indonesia and solo concerts in Taipei, Taiwan. They debuted in their first film entitled “Innocent Lilies” (Director Koichi Sakamoto & Screenwriter Reiko Yoshida) that was released both in theaters and online in September 2013.
TJ Contributor Asami Iida met with Denpagumi at the movie premier in Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Interview by Asami Iida

Sunday, 08 December 2013 00:00

Hikari Takara

Hikari Takara co-stars in “Innocent Lilies”

Seventeen-year-old Hikari Takara, who began her acting career at the age of 12, has appeared in TV dramas, commercials and movies. Her most recent movie was “Innocent Lilies,” in which she co-starred with the Japanese pop idol group Dempagumi.inc. She is currently in California studying English to further her career. TJ’s editorial staff met with Hikari over lunch at the historic and charmingly cozy Arroyo Vista Inn in Pasadena, California to discuss her new movie, her career and future plans.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013 00:00

Monkey Majik

Japanese/Canadian Band Monkey Majik

Ambassadors of Goodwill

Monkey Majik is a bilingual hybrid band made up of the Canadian brothers Maynard and Blaise Plant on lead vocals and guitar and two Japanese members, tax and DICK. In addition to being one of Japan’s top-selling groups whose music has been featured in television programs, commercials and movies, they have gained the attention of The Black Eyed Peas co-founder will.i.am and have had the extremely unique opportunity to perform for the Emperor and Empress of Japan. Their 2011 earthquake and tsunami volunteer efforts were documented by MTV Japan. DNA, their newest album, continues to blend Eastern and Western pop and rock influences, and they are preparing for their next Japan tour. TJ talked with Blaise and DICK about their career and their relief efforts in Sendai.

Tuesday, 05 November 2013 08:51

Halloween in Tokyo's Roppongi

Wednesday, 23 October 2013 05:36

Anime Expo

Anime Expo 2013

By Tokyo Journal Interns Hana Kobayashi, Chisato Kato and Luning Zhang

A RECORD-BREAKING 61,000 anime and manga lovers from around the world attended the 22nd Anime Expo from July 4 to 7, 2013 at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Highlights included a packed concert at Club Nokia with legendary Japanese rock band Porno Graffitti, “Attack on Titan” producer George Wada and Production I.G founder Mitsuhisa Ishikawa. In addition to cosplayers posing for photographers in the lobby, the event introduced its first Cosplay Participation Area where participants could pose in front of cosplay photo sets such as a classroom scene, sakura grove and spaceship interior. The convention also played host to the North American premieres of “Ghost in the Shell: Arise,” “Kick-Heart,” “Garden of Words” and “Star Blazers 2199.” The event was organized by the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation. Anime Expo 2014 will be held July 3-6, 2014. 

Monday, 09 September 2013 00:00

Kings of K-Pop in L.A.

TVXQ! Wow with First Headlining Concert in L.A.

TVXQ!, known as the “Kings of K-Pop!” and holders of the Guinness Record for Most Photographed Celebrities in the world, performed at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles on July 5, 2013. Although the successful Asian band had performed with the 2012 SMTown concert in Anaheim, California with several of SMTown’s top Korean Pop (K-Pop) acts, this was the first time TVXQ! headlined in the U.S. The band is on its “Catch Me” world tour, which began in Seoul in November 2012, went to Hong Kong, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and Japan. Following L.A., the tour continues to Santiago, Chile and Shanghai, China.

Staff Continued

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