News

Save the date: Japan-U.S. Military Program on Sept. 4

JUMP Save The Date Flyer

 

Reception welcoming Gero delegation to be held July 10

The Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida will host a reception at Pensacola City Hall on Friday, July 10, to welcome guests from Pensacola’s Japanese sister city, Gero, and to celebrate the tenth anniversary of sister city relations between Pensacola and Gero.

The sister city relationship actually dates back to 1993, when when Mr. Tsuneji Taguchi, Education Superintendent of the Town of Hagiwara, visited Pensacola. A youth exchange program was launched the following year between Hagiwara junior high schools and Pensacola’s Brown-Barge Middle School. The City of Pensacola and the Town of Hagiwara formally signed a sister city agreement in 1998. In 2004, Hagiwara became one of five towns incorporated as the new City of Gero, and this new municipal government signed a sister city agreement with the City of Pensacola on August 17, 2005.

The reception will take place from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. in the Hagler-Mason Conference Room on the second floor of Pensacola City Hall, 222 West Main Street. It has been made possible thanks to a grant from the JTB USA branch in Miami.

The Gero delegation will include the following individuals:
• Mr. Tetsuji Ohya, Superintendent, School Board, City of Gero
• Mr. Hidehiro Hattori, City Council member, City of Gero
• Mr. Masafumi Tsuchikawa, Director of Pensacola-Gero Association and Director of Promotion and Development of Osaka in Gero, City of Gero
• Mr. Anthony Biondolillo, Coordinator, International Programs, School Board, City of Gero

The reception is free and open to the public, but attendees must RSVP in advance. Please email info@jasnwfl.org if you wish to attend.

 

Japanese Film Festival joins Foo Foo Fest November 14-16

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As part of Pensacola’s inaugural Foo Foo Festival, the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida will present the 2014 Japanese Film Festival on November 14, 15 and 16. Each day will be located at a different venue and will showcase a different aspect of contemporary Japanese cinema. Admission is free on all three days. With seven movies screened over three days, film buffs and fans of Japanese culture will have plenty to enjoy.

On Friday, November 14, the festival will take place in the Mainstage Theater of the Pensacola Cultural Center, 400 S Jefferson St. The evening’s films are “Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” and “Love Hotel.”

Why Don’t You Play In Hell?” is a bloody, comic ode to yakuza gangster movies and 35mm filmmaking that has been likened to American director Quentin Tarantino’s filmography. “Love Hotel” is a documentary about the ubiquitous short-term hotels used for romantic encounters in Japan. With content including graphic language, violence and sexual situations, Friday night’s movies are definitely for a grown-up audience.

Also on Friday, attendees can purchase optional wristbands for $20 (or $5 for JAS members) that grant them access to reserved seating and heavy hors d’oeuvres provided by downtown’s newest restaurant, Nom Sushi Izakaya. Wristbands can be purchased at the event, but advance reservations are appreciated. RSVP by emailing info@jasnwfl.org.

On Saturday, November 15, the film festival will take place at the West Florida Public Library’s Main Branch. The movies to be screened Saturday are the animated features “Wolf Children,” “A Letter to Momo” and “Patema Inverted.”

Wolf Children” (rated PG) tells the story of a young woman who falls in love with a werewolf and their two children, who must learn to control their wolf transformations as they grow up in human society. “A Letter to Momo” (rated PG) is about a grieving girl, Momo, and a trio of mischievous spirits who help her understand a letter from her deceased father. “Patema Inverted” (rated PG-13) is a sci-fi adventure about a boy and girl with opposite gravities trying to discover the secret of their upside-down world.

November 15 also coincides with the Japanese festival “Shichi-Go-San” (literally “7-5-3”), a day celebrating the coming of age of Japanese children. Kids will enjoy participating in Japanese activities, such as making and decorating their own “chitose ame” (or “thousand-year candy”) bags, learning to write their name in Japanese script and posing with the samurai and kimono dress-up wall.

On Sunday, November 16, the festival will take place at the Tree House Cinema in Gulf Breeze. Sunday’s films are “Uzumasa Limelight” and “Unforgiven.” “Uzumasa Limelight” follows an aging “kirare-yaku,” or samurai stuntman, who wants to teach his craft to a young apprentice even as the studio filmmaking process changes around him. “Unforgiven” is a remake of the Academy Award-winning 1992 Clint Eastwood movie, set in Meiji-era Hokkaido and starring Ken Watanabe in the Eastwood role.

In between Sunday’s movies, Dr. Charles Exley from the University of Pittsburgh will give a presentation on Japanese cinema, explaining why Japanese “jidaigeki” movies are so compatible with the sensibility of Hollywood Westerns.

All seven movies will be screened in Japanese with English subtitles.

Click the links below to view and join the Facebook events, and please share with your friends!

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JAS “Hamakaze” Newsletter – Summer/Fall 2014

The Summer/Fall 2014 edition of “Hamakaze” (or “The Sea Breeze”), the newsletter of the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida, has just been released.

Topics covered in this issue:

  • Events to Tie Our Community: Bon Fest & Film Festival
  • Sister City Gero Donated $12,837 to City of Pensacola for the April Flooding Relief
  • Shinji Nagashima, the Consul General of Japan in Miami, Spoke to UWF Students
  • We Miss You, “Tomo-san” (Tomoya Sato)
  • Listening to Momotaro Story
  • What is Mikoshi?
  • Japanese Culture & Language Classes
  • Upcoming Events & Conferences

Click here to download the newsletter in PDF format.

If you would like to be added to our mailing list, please contact us or become a member. Members may also choose to receive the newsletter mailed to their homes.

 

BonFest returns to Pensacola

A Japanese Festival of Music, Dancing, Crafts and Food

A taste of summer fun from old Japan comes to the Legion Field Resource Center Gymnasium from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 30. BonFest Pensacola 2014 is based on the Obon Festivals of Japan, which celebrate family and folk traditions in song and dance. Admission is free.

Bonfest will pulse with the rhythmic thunder of big taiko drums and flash with the whirl of dancers clad in colorful summer kimonos. And there’ll be plenty of opportunities for everyone join in.

  • Do you and/or your kids like those big drums? There will be a workshop to teach you how make them rattle and sing.
  • Do you like to kick up your heels? There’ll be Japanese folk dancing throughout the afternoon, simple enough for even beginners to join in. Strut your stuff…and maybe win an award!

Taking a break from their regular jobs at Disney World, the Matsuriza Taiko Drummers will put on a show that’ll make your pulse leap and your heart sing. And when it’s time for the traditional folk dances, everyone’s invited to join the chorus line. In fact, in Japan, it’s expected, and all part of the fun.

Japanese arts and crafts—much of it handmade—will be for sale from a variety of vendors. From origami creations to kimono fabric art, there’ll be something to satisfy everyone. (Early Christmas shopping, anyone?)

There will be a “Mikoshi Parade” for kids.. And you won’t go hungry, either. There will be plenty of Japanese treats on hand, from shaved ice to sushi, to help replace all those calories spent in drumming and dancing.

The Legion Field Resource Center Gymnasium is located at 1301 West Gregory Street, Pensacola FL 32502. The festival is supported by the Consulate of Japan, the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida, Hilton Garden Inns, the Pensacola Department of Parks and Recreation, the Matsuriza Taiko Drums, the University of West Florida Japan House and BonFest Pensacola.

For additional information, go to the website at http://bonfestpensacola.weebly.com/

 

New Year Celebration to be held January 25

The Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida will usher in the “Year of the Horse” with its 21st annual Japanese New Year Celebration on Saturday, January 25, 2014, at the Bayview Community Center in Pensacola. Festivities will take place from 12 noon until 4 p.m. and will include performances by the popular Matsuriza taiko drummers, martial arts demonstrations, traditional Japanese dancing, music, food vendors, and other cultural displays. A silent auction will also be held, and ticket holders are automatically eligible for door prize drawings.

Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $6 for students, and $4 for Japan-America Society members. Children 12 and under enjoy free admission.

Contact us for more information, or click here to learn about becoming a JAS member.

RSVP on Facebook

 

BonFest returns to Pensacola

A taste of summer fun from old Japan comes to the Bayview Community Center from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 24. BonFest Pensacola 2013 is based on the Obon Festivals of Japan, which celebrate family and folk traditions in song and dance. Admission is free.

Bayview will pulse with the rhythmic thunder of big taiko drums and flash with the whirl of dancers clad in colorful summer kimonos. And there’ll be plenty of opportunities for everyone join in.

Do you and/or your kids like those big drums? There will be a workshop to teach you how make them rattle and sing.

Have you ever wondered how you’d look in a kimono? Volunteers will wrap you into one of the colorful costumes, ready for a photo opportunity you won’t soon forget.

Do you like to kick up your heels? There’ll be Japanese folk dance lessons, then a chance to strut your stuff…and even win awards.

Taking a break from their regular jobs at Disney World, the Matsuriza Taiko Drummers will put on a show that’ll make your pulse leap and your heart sing. And when it’s time for the traditional folk dances, everyone’s invited to join the chorus line. In fact, in Japan, it’s expected, and all part of the fun.

Japanese arts and crafts—much of it handmade—will be for sale from a variety of vendors. There will be a “Kids’ Land” with activities for the smaller set. And you won’t go hungry, either. There will be plenty of Japanese treats on hand, from shaved ice to sushi, to help replace all those calories spent in drumming and dancing.

The festival is supported by the Consulate of Japan, the Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida, Hilton Garden Inns, the Pensacola Department of Parks and Recreation, the Matsuriza Taiko Drums, the University of West Florida Japan House and BonFest Pensacola.

 

Michael Conrad reviews four Japanese films

Michael Conrad is the 2012-2013 president of the First City Art Center board of directors.

Since college, I have had a keen interest in non-mainstream movies. My roommate was the campus projectionist, and he would allow me to sit with him and watch some of the most obscure movies that had been made in the industry. Ever since then, Hollywood Blockbuster type movies seem boring and without flair.

I had the pleasure of seeing Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” while in college, and this started my interest in Japanese Cinema. All things equal, I will choose a Japanese film over most others because of the combination of tradition, beauty of scenery, and unusual story matter. I have been happy to see that Japanese Cinema has continued to mature in the modern era, and I would like to share my thoughts on three recent ones and one older somewhat obscure film.

“The Taste of Tea”: (2004) Director Katsuhito Ishii

This is perhaps my favorite Japanese film, though the competition is fierce. In this film, Ishii profiles three generations of a family living on a common property in the bucolic countryside of Japan north of Tokyo. The anime-drawing grandfather has a magic allure to his grandchildren, each parent has found an unusual way to make a living, and the children are faced with social and mental challenges. Each character has to face their personal quest, and each meets it with unexpected yet glorious methods. This film is trance inducing, and many people complain that it is slow and boring. However, if each detail is observed attentively, the film, and particularly the ending of the film, will lift the viewer to a transcendent peace.

“Departures”: (2008) Director Yojiro Takita

This movie showcases the respect that Japanese culture has for its dead and departed, yet the taboo that still exists for those that complete the work on the corpses. A recently married cellist loses his job in the orchestra, and has to move back to his small village to live in the parental home and look for work. Thinking he is applying to a travel agency, he stumbles upon a job with a business that prepares the recently departed for burial for the families. At first repulsed by the idea, the main character begins to see the worth of his new role in society, though his wife and others are appalled by it. Sometimes comedic, the film never strays too far from its poignant task of looking at our views on death and dying.

“Tampopo”: (1985) Director Juzo Itami

This only at first brush appears to be a comedy, but tackles the importance of finding your calling and pursuing it with all of your energy. A widowed woman finds herself with her husband’s restaurant, and with the help of a trucker/cowboy friend that believes she can perfect the noodle dish; she rises to the occasion. This is a feel good movie with an offbeat, sometimes erotic twist.

“Woman in the Dunes”: Director Hiroshi Teshigahara

This creepy film is a metaphor for unhappy peoples’ lives. An Entomologist is studying exotic insects near the isolated coast of Japan, and is offered a night’s lodging at a woman’s shelter in the pit of a sand dune. Just like the insects that he studies, he becomes trapped in the sand pit with the woman. He realizes that this was her intent, as well as the intent of her villagers, all along. He struggles against the confines of the pit, all the while realizing that he is as helpless as an insect in a spider’s web. He must rely on her, and the villagers for his very survival for food and water, and he must labor to keep the sand from swallowing up his shelter. He eventually acquiesces to his situation over a long period of time, and the viewer is left to wonder if acquiescence is giving up or adapting.

 

Japanese Film Festival on May 11

The Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida will present a Japanese Film Festival on May 11 from noon to 9pm at the Movies 4 theater in Gulf Breeze. The three movies to be screened at this inaugural event are YojimboPing Pong and Summer Wars. There will also be food and drink tastings, short video segments about Japan’s recovery since last year’s earthquake, and a demonstration of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony by Kazuko Law.

Yojimbo, directed by Akira Kurosawa and starring Toshiro Mifune, is a classic 1961 jidaigeki (or period drama) about a wandering samurai (Mifune) who finds himself embroiled in a gang war and offers his services to both rival factions. The movie was the inspiration for Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars and Clint Eastwood’s “Man with No Name” character, and it continues to be an inspiration to Hollywood filmmakers. This screening will begin at 1pm.

Ping Pong, Fumihiko Sori’s 2002 live-action adaptation of a popular manga by Taiyo Matsumoto, follows the friendship and rivalry of two high school students who compete on their school’s table tennis team against a variety of memorable characters from other academies. The movie deftly blends humor with sentiment, and features thrilling, energetic competition sequences. This screening will begin at 4pm.

In 2009’s Summer Wars, writer-director Mamoru Hosoda imagines a world where nearly every aspect of people’s lives are linked to a giant social network called Oz. When part-time Oz employee Kenji visits a classmate’s family in the country, he is implicated in a cyber hacking scheme that could have dire global consequences. The film was awarded the Japan Academy’s Animation of the Year Prize in 2010 thanks to its stunning depiction of the Oz virtual world. This screening will begin at 7pm.

Admission to the film festival is $15 per person, or $5 for Japan-America Society members. Between each movie, guests will be invited to enjoy sushi and other foods in the theater lobby. Special wooden saké cups, called masu, will also be available for $15, or $5 for JAS members. Guests who purchase cups (and are at least 21 years old) may sample saké from the renowned Tenryou brewery in Gero, Pensacola’s Japanese sister city.

The Movies 4 theater is located at 1175 Gulf Breeze Parkway in the Live Oak Village shopping center. Space is limited, so guests are encouraged to RSVP in advance. RSVP by email or on the festival’s Facebook event page.

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20th annual Japanese New Year Celebration on January 19

The Japan-America Society of Northwest Florida will usher in the “Year of the Snake” with its 20th annual Japanese New Year Celebration on Saturday, January 19, 2013, at the Bayview Community Center in Pensacola. Festivities will take place from 12 noon until 4 p.m. and will include performances by the popular Matsuriza taiko drummers, martial arts demonstrations, traditional Japanese dancing, music, food, and other cultural displays. A silent auction and raffle will also be held, and ticket holders are automatically eligible for door prize drawings.

Ticket prices are $8 for adults, $6 for students and Japan-America Society members, and $20 for families. Children ages 3 and under enjoy free admission. Advance tickets are available at the UWF Japan House or may be purchased at the event.

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