Suzannah Tartan

For Suzannah Tartan's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:

Miyake score taps the exotic

Sep 25, 2009

Miyake score taps the exotic

Jun Miyake is a self-proclaimed lover of the exotic. Nowhere is this more evident than in his latest composition, the music for a revival of avant-garde playwright Shuji Terayama’s 1977 play, “Chugoku no Fushigina Yakunin” (“The Miraculous Mandarin”). In the space of two hours, ...

Dancing babies get mom out of the house

Nov 18, 2008

Dancing babies get mom out of the house

In the last year, my son and I have seen concerts by Bob Dylan, Spoon, Alice Cooper, The Raconteurs, The Roots (twice) and Cheap Trick. He worships Ray Charles but is anxiously waiting for The Zutons and AC/DC to tour. His iPod spins a ...

Takagi taps the color of sound

Feb 22, 2008

Takagi taps the color of sound

Is Masakatsu Takagi a musician that makes video art or a video artist that makes music? At Takagi’s performance last week at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., part of the center’s two-week Japan! culture + hyperculture festival, the music was definitely the draw. ...

Watt's going on — a punk at 50

Feb 8, 2008

Watt's going on — a punk at 50

Mike Watt doesn’t look like a punk. With his fondness for plaid shirts and bushy mustaches, he looks, actually, more like a regular working-class guy — a steel worker, or a sailor like his father. He shares the same work ethic too. Watt, who ...

Making day care fit real needs

Jan 22, 2008

Making day care fit real needs

Second of two parts The “day-care wars,” a recent staple of newspaper lifestyle features, have been fueled by government-sponsored research in both the United States and Britain, suggesting day care might cause long-term harm to children. Studies by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, among others, ...

Where corporate care gets it right

Jan 22, 2008

Where corporate care gets it right

In a spacious sunlit room, an infant is dawdled by his smiling nurse. Two toddlers fidgeting quietly in their sleep are patted by their doting teacher. Shelves are lined with infant formula, puzzles and a picture library that includes “The Hungry Caterpillar.” These are ...

Taking time for younger children

Dec 18, 2007

Taking time for younger children

Every morning I trundle my daughter onto my bicycle and up the hill to her public day-care center in central Tokyo before heading off to work. There she spends her day with 14 other 1-year-old tots and her four teachers in “Tampopo gumi,” the ...

Apr 13, 2007

Ono "Yes, I'm a Witch"

In the John Lennon/Yoko Ono mythology, Lennon was the sincere melody maker lured into the avant garde by Ono, whose public reputation vacillated between wailing banshee and cerebral art bitch. Who would have figured Yoko Ono wrote pop songs too? Such are the surprises ...

A spiritual conversation

Feb 23, 2007

A spiritual conversation

The foreign music press has a weakness for weird Japanese music. While recent pop idols like Hikaru Utada release albums abroad to resounding yawns, records by Acid Mothers Temple (who claim to channel UFOs) or Boris (whose longest track is 65 minutes of drone) ...

Bossa nova forever young

Sep 15, 2006

Bossa nova forever young

The music may be ageless, but bossa nova’s founding generation are aging. Forthcoming tours to Japan this month and next by Joao Gilberto, who, along with Antonio Carlos Jobim, was credited with creating bossa nova in the late 1950s, and Sergio Mendes, bossa nova’s ...