The Arts of Japan Celebration

The Kennedy Center
The Arts of Japan Celebration
March 27—April 10, 2005

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts celebrates the rich relations between the United States and Japan with the 2005 Arts of Japan Celebration, March 27 through April 10, 2005 on the Center's main stages. Performances and events represent traditional and contemporary arts, including buyo dance arias by the Shifu-Sanzo Kabuki Music and Dance Troupe, and a Japanese Anime Lecture/demonstration with voiceover actor Chris Patton (Sousuke in Full Metal Panic), Producer Hiroaki Inoue (“Bubblegum Crisis,” “Blue Gender”), and others. In addition, the festivities include free productions of samurai artistry by Kamui and contemporary shamisen music by pop duo the Yoshida Brothers on the Millennium Stage, and many more.
In January 1979, the Kennedy Center Terrace Theater opened, a gift from the people of Japan to the people of the United States. The Kennedy Center has presented every aspect of arts from Japan, from traditional Noh and Kabuki theater to the most modern of Japanese dance, theater, music, and visual arts.

Arts of Japan performances are made possible through the support of the Japan Endowment of the International Performing Arts Fund of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. International programming at the Kennedy Center is supported through the generosity of The Kennedy Center International Committee on the Arts.

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(full Arts of Japan schedule follows)
Arts of Japan Celebration
March 27–April 10, 2005

Washington Toho Koto Society
Sunday, March 27, 2005, 6 p.m. –Millennium Stage
FREE, no tickets required
The Washington Toho Koto Society is a group of koto players from the Washington metropolitan area, founded in 1971 by Kyoko Okamoto, to promote the understanding and appreciation of Japanese koto music. The koto, a zither-like instrument, is played horizontally and plucked with the right hand. The Society participates in many national and local events, including the opening events of the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC every spring. The repertoire of this multi-faceted ensemble ranges from early 17th-century koto music to contemporary compositions.

Monday, March 28, 2005, 6 p.m. – Millennium Stage
FREE, no tickets required
An acting group of professional sword-fighting specialists founded four years ago, Kamui has taught sword-fighting and choreographed for numerous events and festivals. Most recently, Kamui choreographed the fight scenes for the Quentin Tarantino film Kill Bill, Vol. I, in which the group played the Crazy 88 characters.

Shifu-Sanzo Kabuki Music and Dance Troupe
Friday, April 1, 2005, 7:30 p.m. –Terrace Theater
Tickets: $20
One of Osaka's Master Teachers of Japanese dance for over 20 years, Hanayagi Shifu returns to the U.S., after a 14-year absence, in a beautifully staged presentation of buyo, or classical dance from the kabuki. Japanese living national treasure Tokiwazu Sanso, shamisen artist, composer, and recipient of the designation of Intangible Cultural Property in Japan, leads a master group of musicians in the accompaniment of the dance arias.

Yoshida Brothers
Tuesday, April 5, 2005, 6:00 p.m. –Millennium Stage
FREE, no tickets required
Mixing traditional Japanese music with Western influences, The Yoshida Brothers' brash, signature sound has elevated them to rock star status in their native Japan. The Brothers play the Tsugaru Shamisen—an instrument akin to a rustic three-stringed banjo—with the fervor of Jimi Hendrix, while incorporating jazz-like improvisation, pop-rock sensibilities, and disparate global music idioms into their virtuoso shamisen mastery.

Bunraku puppetry presented by University of Massachusetts/Amherst Department of Asian Language
Wednesday, April 6, 2005, 6:00 p.m. – Millennium Stage
FREE, no tickets required
Bunraku puppetry, which began in Osaka in the 17th century, is a combination of samishen (three-string banjo) music, puppetry, and chanting. The large, lavishly costumed puppets are manipulated by hand rather than by strings. The plots, epics driven by the music, are similar in style to kabuki. Students in the University of Massachusetts/Amherst Asian Studies Department are taught by masters of bunraku in Japan during the University's annual summer abroad training program.

The show opens with the Kotobuki Sambaso, a celebratory dance piece by two Shinto priest puppets who purify the theater and bless the audience. The second piece is from the most popular play in the traditional puppet repertoire, Keisei Awa no Naruto: Junrei Uta no Dan, a heart-wrenching scene in which a woman meets the daughter whom she was forced to abandon as an infant ten years earlier. Naruto exhibits the pathos and engaging drama for which Bunraku puppetry is famous. The show concludes with Yaoya Oshichi in which the young girl Oshichi climbs the fire tower to ring the bell in false alarm in order to save the life of the man she loves. Between each of the three pieces, members of the Troupe will offer short demonstrations of the techniques of Bunraku puppetry manipulation.

Anime Explosion!
Wednesday, April 6, 2005, 7:30 p.m. – Atrium
Tickets: $10
Producer Hiroaki Inoue, co-founder of Gainax and producer for AIC Studios, has been producing and developing anime for over 25 years. His works include the popular “Bubblegum Crisis,” “Blue Gender,” “Tenchi Muyo!,” and the film The Wings of Honnaemise, among others. American voiceover actor Chris Patton is well known for his role as Sousuke in Full Metal Panic. Ian Condry is an assistant professor of Japanese cultural studies at MIT where he teaches courses on Japanese popular culture, media and globalization. In this lecture demonstration, the panelists will discuss the history of anime in Japan, its rise in popularity in the U.S., and its influence on popular culture, as well as present clips from past productions.

International Drumming Exhibition
Friday, April 8, 6:00 p.m. – South Plaza Stage
FREE, no tickets required
International drumming groups, including the acclaimed taiko drummers of Tamagawa University, Japan (one of the top 15 taiko performing groups in the world) join local D.C. drumlines in an exciting showcase. Co-presented with the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the DC Commission on the Arts.

Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming and Dance
Saturday, April 9, 6:00 p.m. – Millennium Stage
FREE, no tickets required
From Japan's top performing arts university, the 35 member strong Tamagawa University Taiko Drumming and Dance troupe perform visually stunning Japanese dance and drumming medleys, from the traditional to the contemporary.

Masao Tanibe
Sunday, April 10, 6:00 p.m. – Millennium Stage
FREE, no tickets required
A Nagaya, Japan native, Masao Tanibe began studying guitar at age seven. He graduated from the music department University Cologne and from the Rohm Music Foundation in Germany. In his amateur years, he won numerous international guitar competitions including festivals in Poland, Germany and Japan. He made his professional debut at Vario Hall in Tokyo in 2000. Since then, he has been a sought after recitalist for concerts in Germany, Portugal, Italy, Belgium, Austria and all over his home country of Japan.

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