Shugo Tokumaru gets his friends involved on new album 'Toss'

Oct 13, 2016

Shugo Tokumaru gets his friends involved on new album 'Toss'

A couple of months ago, Shugo Tokumaru released a video on YouTube that showed him preparing an elaborate meal from an unlikely set of ingredients. In it, he took a selection of toy instruments — a ukulele, a recorder, some castanets, a party horn ...

'Jason Bourne': The invincible franchise

Oct 12, 2016

'Jason Bourne': The invincible franchise

It’s the Bourne revival: Matt Damon is Bourne again. After an unsuccessful attempt to transfer the franchise to Jeremy Renner in 2012’s “The Bourne Legacy,” Damon has returned to his most iconic role as the brainwashed CIA super-soldier. He’s the real deal, the Sean ...

A hive of sonic activity stirs on Kafka's Ibiki release

Oct 9, 2016

A hive of sonic activity stirs on Kafka's Ibiki release

There’s something curious happening on “Nemutte,” the sophomore album by Tokyo-based instrumental trio Kafka’s Ibiki. When it performs live, the group specializes in long, patiently evolving improvisations that occupy a liminal zone between jazz, ambient, minimalism and experimental rock. One such performance, at SuperDeluxe ...

'Star Trek' lives on and prospers

Oct 5, 2016

'Star Trek' lives on and prospers

In principle, it’s hard to dislike “Star Trek.” Each time the crew of the USS Enterprise venture into the great beyond, broadcasting their mantra of peace and intergalactic harmony, it’s a riposte to the iffy politics advocated by other movie franchises: they’re the United ...

Sushi crimes: How Japan polices its culinary traditions

Sep 30, 2016

Sushi crimes: How Japan polices its culinary traditions

“This is the best sushi you’ll find in LA,” says a suavely dressed man to his date, as they swoon over a table laden with ersatz creations like “caterpillar roll” and “spider roll.” But just as they’re about to consummate their passion, the meal ...

Hany Abu-Assad: Making strong voices heard

Sep 21, 2016

Hany Abu-Assad: Making strong voices heard

Ever since the first series of “Pop Idol” screened on British TV in 2001, the televised music competition has become practically inescapable, with franchises springing up everywhere from Macedonia to the Maldives. Given how cannily stage-managed these “reality” shows really are, though, it almost ...

'The Red Turtle': Studio Ghibli takes an intriguing turn

Sep 14, 2016

'The Red Turtle': Studio Ghibli takes an intriguing turn

Two years ago the English-speaking internet world was shaken by the news that Japan’s most beloved animation house, Studio Ghibli, would be closing its doors for good. The story, which originated from a fan blog and was picked up by a variety of more ...

'Gods of Egypt': What an ungodly mess

Aug 31, 2016

'Gods of Egypt': What an ungodly mess

In the latest issue of Kinema Junpo, Japan’s most venerable film magazine, you can read a lengthy tribute to Gaga, the dogged independent movie distributor that’s marking its 30th anniversary this year. The occasion is certainly worth commemorating: This is the company that released ...

Koenji's Awa Odori festival celebrates 60 years

Aug 25, 2016

Koenji's Awa Odori festival celebrates 60 years

For the past few weeks, visitors and residents in Koenji have been haunted by a song — a plaintive, pentatonic melody that seems to circle endlessly, never quite resolving. You can hear it playing over speakers on the station platform just before the train ...

Sukiyaki Meets the World music festival thinks global and acts local

Aug 21, 2016

Sukiyaki Meets the World music festival thinks global and acts local

In his classic polemic against modern Japan, “Dogs and Demons,” Alex Kerr described how a system of government loans and subsidies in the 1980s spurred a nationwide outbreak of grandiose construction projects. Today, the Japanese countryside is littered with oversized, underused cultural centers, many ...