The Stage Program displays a wide range of Japanese culture, including traditional performances such as taiko drumming and a karate demonstration, and contemporary performances such as pop music and dancing. The audience can also participate in our original Japanese folk dance "New York Ondo!"
Sandra Endo is a television news correspondent on KTTV Los Angeles, Fox 11 News. Endo covers breaking news and feature reports for Good Day LA. She moved back to her hometown of Los Angeles after spending most of her career on the East Coast. Before making the move last summer, she worked for CNN based in Washington DC. Her stories have appeared on prime time shows such as AC360 with Anderson Cooper. She also reported on the devastating tsunami and earthquake that struck Japan in 2011, as well as the international conflicts in Egypt and the U.S involvement in Libya. Prior to joining CNN, Endo was a political reporter, host and anchor for NY1, covering a wide array of campaigns, the transit strike of 2005 and reporting around the clock after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. A California native, Endo is a second generation Japanese American and is an active member of the Asian American Journalists Association.
Japanese Taiko Drumming
Soh Daiko was established as the first taiko drumming group on the East Coast in 1979 under the guidance of the New York Buddhist Church. Reverend Hozen Seki gave the name “Soh Daiko” which means “peace, harmony, working together.” The group gained early instruction from taiko players who taught basic techniques and philosophy as well as drum building; and later, the group received advanced instruction from Sensei Seiichi Tanaka of San Francisco Taiko Dojo. Soh Daiko’s current members come from diverse backgrounds and professions. The group’s repertoire includes traditional compositions from Shinto music, adaptations of existing taiko compositions, and original arrangements by its own members. Soh Daiko’s presentation also features movement and choreography, requiring strength, endurance, and energy, making for an exciting performance experience. Soh Daiko has performed at celebrated venues including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Radio City Music Hall, receiving critical acclaim from The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, and Dance Magazine.
NIIGATA TAKAHASHI CHIKUZAN ENSEMBLE
Established in 1967, the Niigata Takahashi Chikuzan Ensemble is currently led by Chikuiku Takahashi who started her shamisen performance career 37 years ago. Chikuiku Takahashi currently is a master instructor of Tsugaru Shamisen music in Japan. There are 100 students in the current group, and large recitals are held annually. This is the largest ensemble of Tsugaru Shamisen performers that have performed together in Japan. http://shamisenplayer.com/fumiyoshi/chikuzan
INTERNATIONAL KARATE ORGANIZATION (IKO) KYOKUSHINKAIKAN
International Karate Organization (IKO) Kyokushinkaikan is the worldwide governing body for KYOKUSHIN™ Karate, with schools in 120 countries and over 10 million members. Kyokushin Karate NY is an IKO-Direct Branch with 3 locations in the Tri-State area. With programs for all ages and abilities, KYOKUSHIN stresses the basics of practical training in order to prepare students to avoid conflict, as in the Way of Budo, the honor code of the Samurai. The philosophy of the IKO Kyokushinkaikan is to contribute to society through international exchange and education of youth, to impart an appreciation for life and humanity. The ultimate goal of the IKO Kyokushinkaikan is to advance World Peace.
A bestselling Sony Music recording artist, Senri Oe’s international debut all-jazz album “Boys Mature Slow” (PND Records, peaceneverdie.com) in July 2012 has generated many rave reviews including “Jazziz” and “DownBeat” in NYC. “Boys Mature Slow” received the Album of the Year: New Star Award. Oe has been active and influential in the Japanese music scene as a lyricist, composer and arranger since his debut in 1983. He’s received many awards including “Japan Gold Disc Grand Prix: Best Male Pop Artist 1988” and “FNS Pop Music Award: Best Song of the Year 1989”. In January 2008, Oe decided to move to New York to study jazz under Aaron Goldberg and Junior Mance. Oe graduated from The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music in May 2012. Recently, Oe’s 2nd album “Spooky Hotel” (distributed by Village Music) was at the top of the Billboard Japan Jazz Charts. Oe is now producing not only his own albums but also those of some talented other artists in NYC.
KAI+ featuring SHUNKASHUTO
Fusion Dance & Music
Japanese word with four meanings: to open; to meet; to renew; pleasure. Shakuhachi player Zac Zinger and guitarist Shu Odamura introduced jazz and traditional Japanese music to one another, opening a new chapter in their careers and renewing public interest in both. The result: a pleased audience. “You make me want to go home and practice.” - Benny Golson, jazz legend. “I’m very excited to see what Zac Zinger is doing with the shakuhachi.” - James “Nyoraku” Schlefer, shakuhachi Grand Masterr. “[Shu] is very musical, has great technique, and really knows how to create music fitting every moment.” Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Jazz Journalist and Producer. KAI will be joined by four special guests for Japan Day: Kento Watanabe on shamisen, Yoshiki Yamada on bass, Anton Palma on taiko, and Takuma Anzai on percussion.
Talented Japanese dancers in NYC will get together for Japan Day, presenting the beauty of the Japanese four seasons through different dance styles. Traditional Japanese dance will portray spring. Energetic Jazz dance will portray the vivid summer. Contemporary dance will transform the summer into autumn. Ballet dancers will dance through the quiet wintertime. Choreographed by Musa Hitomi, Reo Suzuki, Mio Nakanishi, and Sayuri Tanabe who works with Lotus Dance Project.
Born in Toyota, Japan, Shumpei Okamoto has been active in the New York fashion scene since he moved from San Francisco. After graduating from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in 2013, he interned at Yigal Azrouel and Zero + Maria Cornejo. His senior collection grew from the project assigned by NIKE to create 2020 Olympic Swimsuits. The outcome of his creative collaboration with NIKE and a textile designer Andrea Nieto was successful enough to expand the project into a collection for a graduate fashion show. His collection garnered attention from Identities, an organization that produces an annual fashion show at Harvard University. Identities offered to present Okamoto’s collection in April. His collection was also featured in California Apparel New, 7X7, Marin Magazine, and Exquise Magazine, as well as other press outlets. (www.shumpeiokamoto.com) List of Supporters: Textile Designer: Andrea Nieto; Makeup Artists: Yoko Zaikawa, Ayaka Nihei, Akane Awaji; Hair Stylists: Yuhei Nerome, Moe Ogasawara; Music: Shuhei Hayashi.
Japanese Taiako Drumming
COBU, based in New York City, was created as a Live Rhythm Performing Arts Group in 2000. Yako Miyamoto, the founder of Cobu, is a veteran member of the Off-Broadway musical STOMP. COBU combines elements of the Japanese traditional Taiko drumming with NY style street dancing. COBU’s motto is ‘Dance like Drumming, Drum like Dancing,’ inspired by the combined sounds of New York and traditional Japanese culture. Their signature sound is created organically through acoustic instruments rather than digital transcription. This juxtaposition of traditional modernity makes COBU a particularly unique and original performing arts group. In 2001, COBU became a recognized beacon of entertainment in the United States, Asia and Europe. COBU has been featured in major venues including Madison Square Garden in NYC. Hollywood movie director, Mr. Duane Adler, developed a 3D film based on Yako Miyamoto called [ Make Your Move / COBU 3D ] which was released in the USA on April 18th, 2014.
Sonim is a singer, actress from Kochi prefecture, Japan. She debuted as part of the Tsunku♂-produced duo “EE JUMP” in 2000. After making the hit song “Otto totto Natsudaze,” the duo disbanded in 2002. She began her solo career with a big hit “Curry Rice no Onna” and won the Golden Arrow Award for Best Newcomer. Not only a singer, she appears on TV commercials, TV shows, films, and recently stage as well. Her stage works include “Sweeney Todd” directed by Amon Miyamoto and “RENT” directed by Michael Greif. In 2012, she was in New York to study theater for a year in one of the elite programs of the Agency for Cultural Affairs in Japan.
Japanese Taiko Drumming
Taiko Masala has thrilled audiences throughout the U.S. with performances of Japan’s traditional drumming Taiko, combining the training and discipline of Japanese martial arts with the precision and power of complex drumming. Taiko Masala brings visually stunning and breathless excitement to their performances. Their arsenal of instruments, all handmade by the ensemble, range from small eight-inch drums to five-foot barrel drums. The group even features a giant 250 pound O-daiko.
Numbers (No:Z) is a dance duo consisting of RYUTA and GENDAI. In August 2003, two rivals from completely different places got together carrying their home country Japan on their shoulders, aiming to get successful overseas. In the same year, they soon became champions at the Apollo Theater in NYC, which was their dream come true. It was the first time in 12 years that Japanese performers had become champions.
Born in Pennsylvania, USA. Influenced by his Japanese grandmother, he began listening to Enka in his early childhood. In 2003, he moved to Japan to become an Enka singer. Jero’s debut single, Umiyuki, was released in February 2008 on the Victor Entertainment label. His appearance at Number 4 on the Oricon Singles Chart made him the first new Enka/Pop solo artist in history to enter the Top 10. Ever since, he has continued to break records in numerous occasions. In the same year, he was awarded the Best New Artist Prize in all of the music awards in Japan, and he fulfilled his dream to make his first entry in Kohaku Uta Gassen.
JERO & THE JAPANESE FOLK DANCE INSTITUTE OF NEW YORK
Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY, Inc was founded in 1992 by Momo Suzuki (teacher and director). The group celebrates and performs in myriad festivals. The group was created to give all the opportunity to enjoy Japanese Dance. Today they will be performing Bonodori, the raucous dance of the summer Bon Festival. New York Ondo led by Momo Suzuki made its World Premiere at Japan Day 2010 and was a great success. It uses the traditional spirit and movements of the Bon Odori dance to celebrate the four seasons in a way that is uniquely New York. New York Ondo features an English verse in the end!
As this year’s special project, Japan Day @ Central Park created a New York version of the hit Japanese music video “Fortune Cookie in Love” by AKB48, a popular Japanese girls’ group. Since the song came out last August in Japan, it has sparked a national craze, with people filming their own versions of the song and posting them to YouTube. Japanese companies, towns, and cities have made their own videos for this song. The song’s popularity has spread worldwide, with fans in England, Australia, and Singapore filming their own covers.