Japan Society Announces Its 2012/2013 Performing Arts Season

Featuring Shakuhachi Master’s First Full U.S. Solo Concert, Folk Music & Dance from Japan’s Tsunami-Devastated Region, Robot Theater, Premiere Commissions and More

New York, NY, July 31, 2012 – Japan Society announces its Fall 2012/Spring 2013 Performing Arts Season, presenting works by visionary artists in dance, music and theater.  The season launches with the music offering Kinya Sogawa: Shakuhachi Exploration (September 23),co-presented with and performed at Roulette. Japan Society’s tradition of presenting boundary-pushing original music events continues in the 2012/13 season with performances by the avant-garde pop music explorer Oorutaichi (November 16) and one of New York City’s unrivaled contemporary music ensembles Bang on a Can All-Stars (December 8) premiering two Society-commissioned pieces inspired by traditional Japanese paintings in Rimpa Reimagined.

In dance this season, Japan Society introduces a standout traditional program, Kuromori Kagura (October 27 & 28), offering U.S. audiences a rare glimpse into the unique folk dance and music tradition of the region whose rich culture remains strong despite the devastating earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. The upcoming Performing Arts season also marks the return of Japan Society’s Contemporary Dance Showcase (January 11 & 12), with the 15th installment set to run in conjunction with The Association for Performing Arts Presenters’ (APAP) annual New York City conference. In addition, the season features the innovative Robot/Android + Human Theater (February 7-9), developed collaboratively by internationally acclaimed theater artist Oriza Hirata and the prestigious Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University; and the Annual Play Reading Series: Contemporary Japanese Plays in English Translation with Strolling Invader by Tomohiro Maekawa (April 1), introducing audiences to the most topical theater from Japan. 

Productions and related events and workshops are detailed below. All events are at Japan Society unless otherwise noted. For tickets or more information, please visit, or call 212-715-1258. Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street.


Kinya Sogawa: Shakuhachi Exploration

Sunday, September 23 at 5:00pm (running time: 90 minutes)

**Offsite event at Roulette, 509 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY

Tokyo shakuhachi virtuoso Kinya Sogawa has his much-anticipated first full-length solo performance in the U.S.  at Roulette in a concert co-presented by Japan Society and Roulette, and featuring special guests Ned Rothenberg, Elizabeth Brown, Ralph Samuelson and Laurie Sogawa. Both a brilliant performer and acclaimed instrument maker, unique in the shakuhachi world, Sogawa is active in diverse genres of traditional and contemporary music, including popular enka songs and video game scores and sound effects. Exploring the multifaceted beauty, power and versatility of the shakuhachi, a traditional Japanese bamboo instrument akin to the Western flute and recorder, Sogawa performs a wide range of music from meditative solo pieces passed down by the komuso wandering monks of the 17th century to new 21st century works by composers Ned Rothenberg and Elizabeth Brown that expand the sonic language of that tradition, creating new possibilities for the instrument. Tickets can be purchased at or call 917-267-0363. Tickets: $15 / $10 Japan Society & Roulette members, students & seniors.

≥≥ Related Workshops: In the week prior to this U.S. debut concert, Kinya Sogawa leads a series of exclusive workshops at Japan Society, for performers, composers and instrument makers, giving participants a deeper look into this versatile shakuhachi. For more information, please visit Further details on the following pages.


Kuromori Kagura: Folk Dance & Music from Tohoku

Saturday, October 27 at 7:30 pm and Sunday, October 28 at 5:30 pm (running time: 90 minutes)

Experience a centuries-old folk dance and music tradition from the Tohoku region (northeastern Japan), performed by artists hailing from towns devastated by the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011. Originating in an area often referred to as a "treasure chest" of Japan’s folk performing arts, the practice of Kuromori Kagura can be traced back to the 17th century, honoring the divine spirit of the Kuromori Shrine in Miyako City, Iwate Prefecture. Designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Folk Asset by the Japanese government, the group will perform a selection of dances from its vast repertoire, which includes furious jumps, brisk turns and whimsical moves accompanied by percussion and fue (Japanese flute), performed wearing elaborate masks and colorful costumes, revealing a whole new dimension of Japan's traditional performing arts. Kuromori Kagura arrives in New York as part of a four-city tour produced and organized by Japan Society, followed by stops in Baltimore, MD (Towson University); Middletown, CT (Wesleyan University) and Philadelphia, PA (Philadelphia Museum of Art). Tickets: $32 / $25 Japan Society members.

≥≥ Pre-performance Lectures: One hour before show times. FREE to ticket holders.
≥≥ Related Family Event:
Kuromori Kagura: Traditional Music & Dance
Sunday, October 28, 11:00am

A special event for families, with children of all ages invited to enjoy Kuromori Kagura's ritual dances. This event offers the opportunity to try basic kagura dance moves, participate in craft-making and receive good luck from the lion-shaped Gon-gen sculpture. Part of Japan Society's Japan's Annual Festivities series. Please see for details.

Cosmic Coco with Oorutaichi

Friday, November 16, 7:30 – 11:00pm

Japan's unparalleled vocalist and multi-track sound mixmaster Oorutaichi propels audiences into orbit, as his colorful yet experimental pop music brings crowds to their feet. Time Out Tokyo praises Oorutaichi’s live performance as, “A chain of amusement… Amazingly great.” Dubbed “imaginary electronic folklore" by Oorutaichi, his music weaves fanciful language into never-heard-before beats and loops. Titled after Oorutaichi's latest album, Cosmic Coco, this exhilarating event features a celestial-inspired multi-media projection installation by Oorutaichi and his creative team, transforming Japan Society's foyer into a revolving nightclub. Local sensation DJ Aki opens and concludes the night with contemporary Japanese and American rock, pop and hip hop. Cash Bar opens at 7:30pm; concertgoers adorned for outer space receive a complimentary drink. Tickets: $23 / $18 Japan Society members.

Bang on a Can All-Stars: Rimpa Reimagined
Saturday, December 8 at 7:30pm (followed by MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception)
**Featuring World Premieres of Japan Society commission by Vijay Iyer and Mamoru Fujieda, with live video by Nobuyuki Hanabusa

New York's fiery music group, Bang on a Can All-Stars, which "combin[es] the power and punch of a rock band with the precision and clarity of a chamber ensemble," The New York Times, unveils new Japan Society-commissioned works drawing inspiration from Rimpa – a school of Japanese painting that spanned the 17-19th centuries. The program features two pieces: one by red-hot New York-based composer Vijay Iyer, and the second by celebrated Japanese post-minimalist composer Mamoru Fujieda. In addition, the All-Stars revive Somei Satoh's Shu (Spells, 2004), for the first time since its world premiere at the Society in 2004. This time, the show is enhanced by a Rimpa art-inspired visual landscape created specially for this concert by leading Japanese motionographer Nobuyuki Hanabusa. Presented in conjunction with the Society's exhibition Silver Wind: The Arts of Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828), which will stay open until 7:30pm on this evening, free for ticket holders. Tickets: $28 / $23 Japan Society members. 

≥≥Related Gallery Exhibition:
Silver Wind: The Arts of Sakai Hōitsu (1761-1828)
September 29, 2012 – Sunday, January 6, 2013

Japan Society Gallery presents the first American retrospective of Sakai Hōitsu. The exhibition includes 58 screens, scrolls, painted fans, lacquer wares, and woodblock-printed books from public and private collections throughout the United States, including five loans from The Metropolitan Museum of Arts. Silver Wind offers an unmissable opportunity to experience in its totality the art of a great painter who has long been prized in this country for his direct visual appeal, loving depiction of favorite Japanese subjects, and sensitivity to subtle changes in weather and the seasons. Japan Society Gallery hours: Tuesday-Thursday, 11:00am – 6:00pm; Friday, 11:00am – 9:00pm; Saturday and Sunday, 11:00am – 5:00pm; the Gallery is closed on Mondays and major holidays. Admission: $15 / $12 students & seniors / FREE Japan Society members & children under 16.

15th Annual Contemporary Dance Showcase: Japan + East Asia
Friday, January 11 (followed by MetLife Meet-the-Artists Reception) and Saturday, January 12 at 7:30pm

The Contemporary Dance Showcase is back with vibrant offerings from a diverse slate of artists including the new post-butoh duo dance work from Tokyo, Misshitsu: Secret Honey Room, created and performed collaboratively by Makotocluv founder Makoto Enda and former Dairakudakan dancer Kumotaro Mukai, scheduled to premiere in Tokyo in August 2012. The New York Times said Makotocluv is “wonderfully fluent in the language of the theater.” Also from Tokyo is Send it, Mr. Monster, by award-winning choreographer and singer KENTARO!!, who leads his group Tokyo Electrock Stairs in hip-hop dance set to Japanese pop and serenade songs. Japan’s Dance Magazine said KENTARO!! creates exhilarating dance… combined with expression of bittersweet nostalgia.” From Taipei comes Seventh Sense, a work showcasing astonishing body movements performed within a high-tech, real-time interactive space, choreographed by Chieh-hua Hsieh and performed by his company Anarchy Dance Theatre. Tickets: $28 / $25 Japan Society members.

Seinendan Theater Company + Osaka University Robot Theater Project
Double Bill: Android + Human Theater Sayonara & Robot + Human Theater I, Worker
Thursday, February 7 – Saturday February 9 at 7:30pm (running time: 75 minutes, including intermission)

Japan Society presents a double bill of two heartrending short plays, Sayonara (android and human actors) and I, Worker (robots and human actors) that naturally combines deeply human emotional theater with cutting-edge robotics. In Sayonara, an android is bought to console a girl suffering from a fatal illness, but when its mechanics go awry, the meaning of life and death to humans and robots is questioned. In I, Worker, a husband’s struggle to cope with the loss of his child is juxtaposed with the malaise of one of his robots, which has lost all motivation to work. This groundbreaking program represents a collaboration between internationally acclaimed playwright/director Oriza Hirata, founder of Japan's celebrated Seinendan Theater Company, and Dr. Hiroshi Ishiguro, a leading international researcher on robotics and Director of the Intelligent Robotics Laboratory at Osaka University. Sayonara is performed in English, and I, Worker is performed in Japanese with English subtitles. Co-presented with The Japan Foundation.  Tickets: $28 / $25 Japan Society members.

Co-produced with The Japan Foundation and organized by Japan Society, this program’s six-city tour includes Columbus, OH (Wexner Center for the Arts); New York, NY (Japan Society); Philadelphia, PA (Philadelphia Live Arts); Burlington, VT (Flynn Center for Performing Arts); Toronto, Canada (CanadianStage) and Pittsburgh, PA (Andy Warhol Museum).

≥≥ Related Event: Oriza Hirata offers his inimitable workshop for theater professionals. Further details on following pages.

Annual Play Reading Series: Contemporary Japanese Plays in English Translation
Strolling Invader written by Tomohiro Maekawa
Staged Reading by knife inc. translated & directed by Aya Ogawa
Monday, April 1 at 7:30pm

In its 8th presentation of the Annual Play Reading Series, Japan Society presents Strolling Invader by Tomohiro Maekawa, translated and directed by Aya Ogawa. The play centers on a small harbor town in Japan, where one by one, residents begin to loose comprehension of once familiar concepts such as “family,” “ownership” and “freedom.” The strange incidents in the town are eventually linked to one resident, Shinji, who has been wandering around talking to his neighbors ever since his body and mind were taken over by an alien performing preparatory research on human beings before invading Earth. Rising playwright and director/ founder of Ikiume Theater Company in Tokyo, Tomohiro Maekawa, is recognized for his illustrations of human emotion through peculiar sci-fi and horror stories. Aya Ogawa, New York-based writer, director, performer, translator and founder of knife inc., translates Maekawa’s story and leads a cast of American actors for this staged reading. Playwright Tomohiro Maekawa joins the evening by live-stream video broadcast from Japan. Tickets: $15 / $10 Japan Society members. 

Shakuhachi Workshops with Kinya Sogawa

In conjunction with Kinya Sogawa: Shakuhachi Exploration, Japan Society presents a suite of workshopsfor performers of all levels, composers and instrument makers, with Japan's shakuhachi virtuoso Kinya Sogawa, who trained under shakuhachi master Katsuya Yokoyama and apprenticed with distinguished shakuhachi craftsman Chikusen Tamai.

≥≥ Breath, Sound & Form: A Workshop for Shakuhachi Players
Saturday, September 16; Beginners 2:00-3:45 pm, Intermediate/Advanced: 4:00-5:45 pm

Beginners (at least minimal shakuhachi performing experience) learn principles of sound production, breath control and finger technique, and study a basic traditional honkyoku piece.  Intermediate/advanced players (two or more years of performing experience) explore deeper fundamentals, musical forms and structure through the detailed study of a honkyoku. Maximum: 15 participants per session. Participants in either session are encouraged to observe the other session at no additional cost. Instruments provided upon request, reservation mandatory; call 212-715-1220. Observer tickets may be available after participant tickets sell out. $40/$35 Japan Society & Roulette members.

≥≥ Making & Playing Your Own Shakuhachi: A Workshop in Shakuhachi Craftsmanship
Sunday, September 16, 2:00-6:00 pm

Participants craft their own functional shakuhachi, from the beginning stages of cutting and drilling raw bamboo stock, to refining the mouthpiece, tuning finger holes and shaping the inner bore. Maximum: 15 participants. Participants should have experience working with hand tools, and preferably with cutting bamboo. Please wear comfortable clothes.  Observer tickets may be available after participant tickets sell out. $60 / $55 Japan Society & Roulette members (price includes materials).

≥≥ The Shakuhachi & Contemporary Music: A Workshop for Composers
Saturday, September 22, 2:00-5:00 pm

Composers are introduced to the unique character of the shakuhachi through the performance of several short traditional and contemporary pieces, a demonstration of special techniques, and an introduction to form and pitch relationships. Maximum: 20 participants. Composition experience required.  $35/$30 Japan Society & Roulette members.

Exploring Naturalism: Acting Workshop with Oriza Hirata
In conjunction with ROBOT / ANDROID + HUMAN THEATER
Seinendan Theater Company + Osaka University Robot Theater Project
Saturday, February 9, 1:00 – 4:00pm

Oriza Hirata, founder, writer and director of Seinendan Theater Company, leads his trademark workshop in investigating methods of naturalistic acting. Through the use of simple dialogue, he delves into the subtle craft of recreating and re-enacting everyday life on stage. Maximum: 20 participants. Some acting experience preferred. Observer tickets may be available for this workshop after regular tickets have sold out. Tickets: $30 / $25 Japan Society members.

Since the inception of the Performing Arts Program in 1953, Japan Society has introduced more than 600 of Japan’s finest performing arts to an extensive American audience. Programs range from the traditional arts of noh, kyogen, bunraku and kabuki to cutting-edge theater, dance and music. The Program also commissions new works to non-Japanese artists, produces national tours, organizes residency programs for American and Japanese artists and develops and distributes educational programs. "At once diverse and daring, the program stands toe to toe with some of the most comprehensive cultural exchange endeavors today.” --Back Stage.

Founded in 1907, Japan Society is a world-class, multidisciplinary hub for global leaders, artists, scholars, educators, and English and Japanese-speaking audiences. At the Society, more than 100 events each year feature sophisticated, topically relevant presentations of Japanese art and culture and open, critical dialogue on issues of vital importance to the U.S., Japan and East Asia. An American nonprofit, nonpolitical organization, the Society cultivates a constructive, resonant and dynamic relationship between the people of the U.S. and Japan. 

Tickets & Information: Tickets for performances and related events at Japan Society can be purchased by calling the Box Office at 212-715-1258 or in person at Japan Society (M-F 11:00am – 6:00pm and Sat-Sun 11:00am – 5:00pm). Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street, between First and Second Avenues (accessible by the 4/5/6 at 42nd Street-Grand Central Station or the E and V at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street). For more information, call 212-832-1155 or visit 

Major support for Japan Society 2012-2013 Performing Arts Programs is provided by the Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Endowment Fund and the Endowment for the Performing Arts, established with leadership gifts from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, The Globus Family, Kyocera Corporation, The Starr Foundation and Toyota Motor Corporation. MetLife Foundation is a Corporate Partner of Japan Society’s 2012-2013 Performing Arts season. Japan Society is also grateful to the following individuals, foundations, and government agencies for their generous support: Dr. John K. Gillespie; The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, Inc.; Dr. and Mrs. Carl F. Taeusch II; Mr. Norton Belknap; Mr. Terry Brykczynski and Ms. Andrea Miller; Mr. James C. Nolan; Ms. Hiroko Onoyama; Howard and Sarah Solomon; Mr. Alex York; and Paula S. Lawrence; and an anonymous donor. New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council, and the New York State Council on the Arts with support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York Legislature. Transportation assistance is provided by All Nippon Airways Co., Ltd. Yamaha is the official piano provider of Japan Society. The four-city American tour of Kuromori Kagura is produced and organized by Japan Society, and is supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan in the fiscal year 2012, The Japan Foundation through the Performing Arts JAPAN program, and The Asahi Shimbun Foundation. The regional tour of Kuromori Kagura is made possible by a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation with support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional support for the New York engagement is provided by Dr. Stephen and Michiko Levine and Mitsubishi UFJ Foundation. MetLife Meet-the-Artists Receptions support is provided by MetLife Foundation. Bang on a Can All-Stars: Rimpa Reimagined is supported by Doug and Teresa Peterson and Toshiba America, Inc. Annual Contemporary Dance Showcase is supported by by the Planning Office for Arts Council Tokyo, Tokyo Metropolitan Foundation for History and Culture; the Ministry of Culture (R.O.C.); and the Taipei Cultural Center of TECO in New York. Seinendan Theater Company + Osaka University Robot Theater Project’s six-city tour is co-produced with The Japan Foundation and organized by Japan Society.

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Press Contacts:

Performing Arts/General: Bridget Klapinski, 347-246-6182,

Music Events: John Seroff, 201-743-8536,

Shannon Jowett, Japan Society, 212-715-1205,

Kuniko Shiobara, Japan Society, 212-715-1249,

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