An axis for artistic and creative-types of the Asian persuasian… Redefining Otaku Culture.

Epic lantern festival in Niigata rivals the Yi Peng festival in sheer beauty

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RocketNews 24 (by KK Miller):

If you are in Niigata this March, you can live out your Tangled fantasy with a breathtaking view of floating lanterns that rival the beauty of the Disney movie and the festival in Thailand that inspired the film’s iconic scene.

There is a spectacular sequence in Tangled, when we see Rapunzel make her way into a kingdom during its annual lantern festival. The scene from the movie was beautifully crafted, giving us a picturesque but seemingly impossible view of a truly incredible festival. Fans wanted to know if they could experience something like this in real life and the Yi Peng Festival in Thailand comes awfully close, so many have added the wonderful festival to their must-see list and have been flocking to see it.

But it turns out that people in Japan don’t have to go all the way to Southeast Asia to see a lantern festival of that nature; they only have to go to Niigata.

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Tsunanmachi in Niigata Prefecture has been holding a lantern festival since 2012, called the Tsunan Yuki Matsuri (“Tsunan Snow Festival”). This event takes advantage of the small number of tall buildings and electric lines in the area to send up paper lanterns over the course of the night with a grand finale of over 1,000 lanterns being released at the same time. The heavy snowfall in the area, much of which is still on the ground in March, creates serene and silent surroundings as tons of little lights to go floating up into the sky.

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The next festival will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the New Greenpia Tsunan Ski Area (New Green Peer on Google Maps). There is plenty of free parking and entrance to the festival is also free, though you’ll need to shell out a little bit of cash if you want to send up a lantern yourself.

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If you find yourself near Niigata next March, you owe it to yourself to be in Tsunanmachi.

Art Basel Hong Kong 2015 recap

Cute animals in powered exoskeletons: 6 wondrous items from the 2015 Wonder Festival (Japan)

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RocketNews 24:

The latest edition of Japan’s bi-annual Wonder Festival brought out both male and female cosplayers, plus Sailor Moon figurines, which are well-known stalwarts of any good event celebrating anime and the creative arts. But what about the actual handmade models that put the wonder into the festival?

Amateur hobbyists converge at the event to display and sell unique goods, resulting in an array of never-before-seen models and items that can’t be found anywhere else. From ramen kewpie dolls to seductive vegetables, we’ve got photos of the most imaginative and eye-popping goods you’ll see this season.

Sylvanian Families powered up in exoskeletons

These little guys are a great introduction to the creative, no-holds-barred, mixed influence nature of the show. The cute, furry animal characters won’t put up with any funny business in these outfits.

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▼ 2,000 yen (US$16.84) for an exoskeleton set? You won’t find these sets at your local toy store.

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Ramen Kewpie Dolls

Incredibly popular in Japan, cherub-faced Kewpie Dolls are always up for a bit of creative cosplay, having appeared in the past as fish roe, balls of algae and all manner of fruit and vegetables. Popping up in a bowl of ramen, however, complete with cascading locks of noodles, is a surprising scenario, even for this character.

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Relive memories from long-lost amusement parks

The model kits at the Yukinonz stand might look ordinary, if not a little amateurish, to the untrained eye. Nostalgic hobbyists, however, would see this as a unique chance to breathe life back into old fun parks which have sadly disappeared or fallen into disrepair.

Nara Dreamland once shuttled happy passengers around the park in a shiny, three-carriage monorail. Today, it sits lifeless amongst dilapidated buildings, visited only by curious haikyoists, or urban explorers.

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▼ The submarine is another abandoned monument from Nara Dreamland.

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Takarazuka Family Land once had a glorious ropeway in operation. Sadly, the ropeway and amusement park no longer exist.

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Vegetables with attitude

Otonamiya is a company that uses resin and clay to create an extensive range of goods, including the Kewpie Ramen figures featured above. It’s their remarkable harvest of carrots and radishes that really steals the showm though.

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Optimus Prime featuring Original PlayStation

If you’re a fan of the original PlayStation console and have a soft spot for Transformers toys, this is the stuff dreams are made of. Takara Tomy A.R.T.S is set to release this kit on 28 February. Standing at 19 centimetres (7.5 inches) tall and retailing for 10,800 yen (US$90.94), Optimus Prime folds up neatly into a replica original PlayStation console, complete with memory card and controller.

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Venus de Milo action figure

The Figma doll series, produced by Max Factory and distributed by Good Smile Company, has done more than just give this famous beauty arms, creating a fully poseable Aphrodite to keep artists and fans of classic sculpture entertained for centuries to come.

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There are some great gems to be unearthed at the Wonder Festival. With the next event scheduled to be held at the Makuhari Messe Convention Centre on Sunday 26 July 2015, we’ve still got some time to save up for our upcoming wondrous purchases!

POW! WOW! Taiwan 2014 Video

After taking Taipei by storm, the POW! WOW! team takes a look back at its first-ever venture into Taiwan. Directed by Vincent Ricafort, this lengthy recap of POW! WOW! Taiwan 2014 does well to highlight its quest to paint massive murals in the Taiwanese capital, even dealing with typhoons as the festival brought together street art heavyweights like Aaron De La Cruz, Apex, Dabs1, INSA, James Jean, Brendan Monroe, and Madsteez, as well as regional talents Reach, Mr.OGAY, Seazk, Saym, Zishi, Xue, and Vita Yang.

Enjoy the piece above and head on over to POW! WOW!’s blog for a slide show of some imagery from the event.

Steam Garden: Tokyo’s steampunk festival

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RocketNews 24:

Though it sometimes feel a bit like bragging, when people ask what we like best about Tokyo, we can’t help answering that it basically has everything. Now, don’t us wrong, there are some things you can’t find in Japan’s capital city, but just about everything we’ve gone looking for, we’ve been able to find. And we’ve even discovered some things without knowing we were looking for them! Case in point, about a week ago, we found out that Tokyo has its very own quarterly steampunk festival!

Dubbed Steam Garden, the first event of the year will be held next month in Harajuku, but we were dying to know more about it, so we reached out to the Tokyo Inventors Society to learn more about steampunk in Japan.

Check our exclusive interview and get information about joining the fun below!

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The world is overflowing with unique subcultures, but steampunk is perhaps one of the most interesting–though we have to admit it can be somewhat difficult to pin down exactly what it is! Fortunately, we were able to get a pretty satisfying answer from Luke, one of the founders of the Tokyo Inventors Society, which run Steam Garden. “Steampunk is a kind of re-imagining of 19th century science fiction, like a punk-attitude version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We like the cool 19th century aesthetic, the sense of adventure, the DIY aspect of crafting and building things, and the satirical, playful approach to history.”

Of course, generally steampunk evokes images of Victorian culture, but it actually seems to work very, very well in Japan as well, thanks to the country’s blend of traditional and contemporary culture during the Meiji era.

Kenny, one of the other founders of the Tokyo Inventors Society, had this to say about steampunk in Japan. “I think Japanese ‘mottainai’ (“don’t be wasteful”) culture is a good influence on re-making and creating things from junk. I like that part of streampunk a lot.”

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Adding to Kenny’s comments, Luke explained that certain aspects of Japanese steampunk are still very new. “Aesthetically, Steam Garden really pioneered what we sometimes call the ‘wild east’ style of Steampunk, a more intense version of the Wa-yo-setyuu style of fusing East and West, and this seems to be inspiring a lot of the younger steampunks now to be proud of Japanese steampunk style, rather than copying a Victorian or American look.”

Now you’re probably wondering just what Steam Garden is. The event is actually only a few years old–it began in 2011 as little more than idea in a bar. As Luke put it, “We were sitting in a hookah bar sometime in 2011 and complaining about the lack of  decent steampunky, gonzo-historical kinda festivals in Japan.”

Most of our great ideas come in hookah bars,” Kenny quipped.

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Regardless of where the idea came from, it looks like Steam Garden has developed quite the following. It even got started with a bit of a bang! When asked about the festival’s growth over the last four years, Kenny told us, “I thought the first one was going to be a small salon-party. Maybe 40 people. But we packed out a small nightclub. So we picked a bigger place next time, and filled it again. Every time it gets a little bigger. We are on the eighth one now.”

The next event, which is called “Meiji Democracy” is due to take place in just under two weeks on February 7 at Laforet in Harajuku from 2 pm to 7 pm. Admission isn’t exactly cheap at 4,000 yen (about $34) per person, but it promises to be quite the show.

If you’re on the fence about the price, this description from the Steam Garden FAQ should get you excited.

“During DJ and Salon time you can enjoy Hookah, sit and talk with the best-dressed, classiest and friendliest crowd of any event in Tokyo, and dance to adventurous neo-retro sounds from our DJ’s.

The entertainment, music and even booths at each event are carefully selected to match the theme of the episode, whether it is rodeo girls at a ‘Wild Wild West’ fashion show or Katana-wielding samurai and live Japanese traditional music for ‘Meiji Steam.’ The performers are always of top quality including Cirque du Soleil registered acrobats, professional swordfight choreographers, champion Shamisen players and more.”

Now, if you’re worried you don’t have anything to wear, Luke assures us that you don’t have to wear full-on steampunk or historical costume. It’s not entirely necessary, but he did add that “most of the attendees make one hell of an effort to look awesome,” so it may be worth at least throwing something quick together to really get into the spirit.

It’s all about having a sense of adventure!” Kenny added. “If you’ve got that, you’re 99% ready to go!”

Sounds good to us!

If you’re not going to be in Tokyo in two weeks but you really want to see the event, we have good news! We’ll be there taking photos, so you can look forward to a full report…as long as our time machine doesn’t break and leave us stranded in the Meiji period.

For more information about the event be sure to check out the Steam Garden website.

Japan Society’s 16th Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan + East Asia

How to say (c) Chang-Chih Chen
Beyond Chinatown:

Japan Society’s 16th Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan + East Asia, one of their many great performance programs this season, brings from astonishingly agile artists from Japan and Taiwan for two nights of performances Friday, January 9 and Saturday, January 10.

From Japan:

Nobuyuki Hanabusa’s group enra performs Newton, an out-of-this-world amalgamation of motion graphics and choreography.

Mikiko Kawamura’s street style solo Alphard is set to a bold soundscape with J-pop and classical music

In Kaori Seki’s quartet Marmont, bodies morph into nebulous creature-like positions.

 

From Taiwan:

I-Fen Tung’s (董怡芬) fresh duo How to Say grapples with communication through words and dance.

In Shang-Chi Sun’s (孫尚綺 / 孙尚绮) Traverse, graceful martial arts-like movements oscillate between combat speed and tranquility.

Here’s the preview trailer:

Darth Vader to be featured in large-scale Star Wars snow sculpture at 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival

 

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RocketNews 24:

The annual Sapporo Snow Festival held in Japan’s northernmost prefecture has been delighting tourists and locals for over six decades. Each year, artists from around the world are invited to show off their talents constructing enormous structures out of ice and snow.

To commemorate the release of the seventh installment of the Star Wars series, The Walt Disney Company has collaborated with festival officials to design what looks to be the most epic large-scale snow sculpture yet, featuring enormous snow versions of Darth Vader, three Storm Troopers, a TIE fighter, and the Death Star.

Sapporo Snow Festival officials recently announced the collaboration, marking the first large-scale snow sculpture licensed by Lucasfilm. The design will be made a reality in time for the 66th anniversary of the festival, scheduled to take place from February 5 to February 11, 2015.

Darth Vader, lightsaber in hand, stands at the forefront of the design, beside him are three Stormtroopers, blaster rifles at the ready. In the background, a TIE fighter and the Death Star are seen in legendary detail. And just in case the iconic characters weren’t enough of a hint, the words “Star Wars” will be carved out on the lower corner.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens will open in theaters December 18, 2015; we’re sure glad we have this snow sculpture of epic proportions to tide us over until then!

POW! WOW! Taiwan: Summer Episode Video Trailer

 

The festivities of this year’s POW! WOW! Taiwan may seem done for now, but the festival’s influence and effect on the Chinese state cannot be understated. Amongst the myriad events this year, POW! WOW! teamed up with the Fubon Art Foundation to commission a joint mural project with L.A. duo CANLOVE, Will Barras, and REACH. Dubbed “Summer Episode,” the project added a sense of depth to the burgeoning art scene in Taipei, sure to foster under POW! WOW! residencies and other positive projects.

As we anticipate the visual postcard from Summer Episode, enjoy a brief trailer above. If in the Taipei area, be sure to drop by Hua Tunan’s live painting exhibition at Zheng Yi Projects – which starts up on October 11.

Sriracha-themed eletronic dance music festival hits Bay Area this Labor Day Weekend

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Another electronic dance music festival has just been announced, and it will be Sriracha-themed. As first reported by EDM.com, the music lineup for the festival has not yet been announced, but Molly-addled fans are already imagining how awesome it will be to have the spicy sauce in their mouths while they bounce and bop to the bass. They must be grateful that Rooster Sauce is back after production was temporarily halted earlier this year.

In what may very well be the first ‘foodie’ rave, the event, the Electronic Sriracha Festival will take place will take place Labor Day weekend, on Saturday, August 30th at St. James Park in San Jose, California. The official site doesn’t have many details, but says the fest will take up two city blocks and offer three stages of music, four bars, and “120 Sriracha-infused dishes.”

Drinks will also reportedly be on sale for $6, but the mind-blowing experience will require a ticket.

 

 

The website for the festival says that it will announce all music acts Monday, July 21st at 9 a.m. Until then, you can sign up for pre-sale and start preparing your taste buds and rave outfits.

And as the folks at FirstWeFeast.com joked, the ‘best part’ of the rave is that “You can replace Molly with Sriracha, because we both know they have basically the same effect on the mind and body.” All we know is, Steve Aoki (fingers crossed!!) and sriracha sounds like the PERFECT combination to us.

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Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Fest presents “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” (May 3rd and 9th)

 

 

In Los Angeles this weekend or next? Head over to the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Fest as they present screenings of “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” on May 3rd and 9th. 

 

Synopsis:

The “fourth wall” comes crashing down, in a BIG way, in AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS, the brainchild of internet sensations Patrick Epino (VOID, Festival 2005) and Stephen Dypiangco. Having met nearly four years ago during Festival Week 2010, Epino — an alumnus of San Francisco State University’s Cinematic Arts program and Visual Communications’ own Armed With a Camera Fellowship — and NYU Film School graduate Dypiangco established the online destination, The National Film Society, as a means of promoting face-to-face dialogue with Asian Pacific American independent and mainstream entertainment professionals on all things pertinent to APA cinema.

As the film starts, our loveable, awkward duo wrap up yet another installment of NFS for upload. Only problem is, the episode is ruined when a trespasser somehow walks through the living room door and photo-bombs the shoot. The interloper turns out to be none other than veteran actress Tamlyn Tomita, who avails upon the guys to assemble a team of veteran Asian American bad-guy actors for the purpose of avenging a dastardly wrong, executed by one Aaron Takahashi (Aaron Takahashi), the leader of the ruthless Wang Chung crime syndicate. Unfortunately, the motley crew of “legendary” Asian American heavies they put together — Al Leong, Yuji Okumoto, George Cheung and Randall Park (whose sole purpose seems to be the “useless” and not-quite-awesome Asian Bad Guy) — can’t stand each other.

Filled with a rapid-fire string of in-jokes and stereotypes turned on its collective heads, this rollicking send-up of just about every kind of genre and schlock-cinema beloved by our NFS heroes plays it strictly for laughs. Oh yes, every obligatory KARATE KID 2 reference, every DIE HARD throw-away line, every fake ROCKY training sequence, and so much more are crammed into the film, courtesy of a screenplay by award-winning writer/producer Milton Liu (JESUS HENRY CHRIST, Festival 2004). It’s hard to imagine that AWESOME ASIAN BAD GUYS was created as a six-episode web series — with a story so deliciously dopey, implausible, and just-plain silly, why couldn’t this heartfelt effort be enjoyed on the big screen first?

Screenings

Saturday, May 03 9:45 PM Directors Guild of America 1
Friday, May 09 9:45 PM Tateuchi Democracy Forum


The project features Al Leong (Die Hard, Lethal Weapon, Big Trouble in Little China), Yuji Okumoto (The Karate Kid, Part II) and George Cheung (Rambo: First Blood Part II). Also starring Dante Basco, Jasmin Currey, Stephen Dypiangco, Patrick Epino, Randall Park, Aaron Takahashi, and Tamlyn Tomita.

 

Check out this link:

Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Fest presents “Awesome Asian Bad Guys” (May 3rd and 9th)