Film: Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme



Film Event: Once Upon a Time in Japan- Reinventing the Past Through the Eyes of Japanese Contemporary Filmmakers

When: Sun 3 March – Sun 24 March

Where: Tyneside Cinema  (Directions)

Extra Info: Buy tickets for four films in the programme and get the fifth FREE! (Only at the Tyneside Box Office in person)

Website:  Please click on the film titles below


We are very pleased to announce that Geordie Japan is working closely with The Tyneside Cinema to promote this exciting touring film festival! Once Upon A Time In Japan aims to explore the past through the eyes of modern Japanese film makers and includes some gems that have never been screened in the UK before! We can’t wait for this event, it’s been hard to keep it under wraps until now! But we will be providing you will all the information you will need leading up to and during the programme. See you there!


The films are as follows;

(Please find synopsis of the films further down the page)


Bubble Fiction: Boom Or Bust (Tasuo Baba) – Sun 3 March, 3.30pm

Please note, Bubble Fiction is listed in the Tyneside brochure as SAT 3 MARCH, but it is Sun 3 March

Castle Under Fiery Skies (Mitsutoshi Tanaka) – Wed 6 March, 5.45pm

Kaidan Horror Classics (Various) – Sun 10 March, 3.30pm

Rebirth (Izuru Narushima) – Wed 13 March, 5.45pm

Mai Mai Miracle (Sunao Katabuchi) – Sun 17 March, 3.30pm

Zero Focus (Isshin Inudo) – Wed 20 March, 5.45pm

Ninja Kids!!! (Takashi Miike) -Sun 24 March. 3.30pm


“Since 2004, the Japan Foundation, London has organised a Japanese film programme in close partnership with distinguished film venues and programme advisors in the UK. Each year, a programme of six to seven, largely contemporary, Japanese titles are put together under a carefully chosen theme to highlight trends in Japanese cinema and showcase the versatility and uniqueness displayed by Japanese filmmakers. The programme also showcases directors and works which, while being worthwhile, may have slipped under the radar of other film festivals or programmes.” – Japan Foundation


Bubble Fiction

Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust (Baburu e go!: Taimu mashin wa doramu-shiki)
Dir. Yasuo Baba
Cast: Ryoko Hirosue, Hiroshi Abe, Hiroko Yakushimaru
2007 / 116min / Colour / English Subtitles
With the Japanese economy on the blink of collapse with 80 trillion yen in debt, government bureaucrat Shimokawaji (Hiroshi Abe) conjures the crazy idea of going back in time to 1990 in an attempt to prevent Japan’s financial collapse. Luckily, Shimokawaji’s ex-lover Mariko (Hiroko Yakushimaru) has a created one of the most unusual time machines; a DeLorean-esque washing machine, transporting anyone who dons a wetsuit and climbs into the drum some twenty years back in time. Having lost Mariko somewhere in the past, Mariko’s daughter (Ryoko Hirosue), a ditzy bar hostess, spins back to 1990 to the height of the bubble economy, teaming up with a 17 years younger Shimokawaji to look for her mother and prevent Japan’s ‘bubble’ economy from bursting. Yasuo Baba’s 2007 time-travel comedy is a hilarious satire of bubble-era Japan, filled with nostalgic gags, retro fashion and music, guaranteed to lift your spirits and cast away any recession blues!


Castle under Fiery Skies (Katen no shiro)Castle Under Fiery Skies 2
Dir. Mitsutoshi Tanaka
Cast: Toshiyuki Nishida, Shinobu Otake, Saki Fukuda, Isao Natsuyagi, Renji Ishibashi
2009 / 139min / Colour / English Subtitles
In the Age of the Country at War, peasant carpenter Motaemon Okabe (Toshiyuki Nishida) renowned for his ‘divine hands’ is summoned by Lord Nobunaga to oversee the mammoth task of the construction of the fabled 7 story fortress Azuchi Castle, a huge castle to be built on Mount Azuchi overseeing and guarding the then-capital Kyoto. However Motaemon must overcome some persistent obstacles on the path towards its completion. This film introduces a fascinating insight into the world of traditional Japanese architecture. Mitsutoshi Tanaka’s well-crafted spin on the period drama genre is a heart-warming tale of one ordinary man’s skill and determination, and journey towards success beyond his normal capabilities.


Kaidan Horror Classics (Ayashiki bungo kaidan)Kaidan Horror Classics
Dir. Shinya Tsukamoto, Sang-il Lee, Hirokazu Kore-eda
2010 / 121min / Colour / English Subtitles
Three haunting stories written by Japanese literary masters, reinterpreted and revived by some of Japan’s greatest directors, Kaidan Horror Classics is a collection of beautiful yet terrifying tales of the darkness of the human heart.

The Whistler (Hazakura to mateki)
Dir. Shinya Tsukamoto
2010 / 36min / Colour / English Subtitles
Yuko (Aoba Kawai) spends her days caring for her terminally ill younger sister Itsue (Eri Tokunaga), however upon finding a bundle of anonymous letters addressed to Itsue, Yuko is determine to find out from whom and why have they been sent. Based on the original story by Dazai Osamu, Shinya Tsukamoto’s distinctive cinematic style portrays the inner rage of adolescents towards those dear to them.

The Nose (Hana)
Dir. Sang-il Lee
2010 / 34min / Colour / English Subtitles
A monk named Zenchi (Yutaka Matsushige) attempts to save a child from drowning in a river, but when the child sees the enormous nose he was concealing the monk impulsively pushes him away. Racked with guilt, Zenchi becomes fearful of silently watching eyes. Inspired by an early short story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, this loose interpretation retains the protagonist’s predicament, and includes elegant cinematography, reminiscent of classic period films.

The Days After (Nochi no hi)
Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda
2010 / 51min / Colour / English Subtitles
A child appears before a young couple who lost their beloved son at an early age. Is he the reincarnation of their son, or a ghost? This strange and serene story of a family’s days spent with the son who seems to have come back to life, is adapted from the fantasy stories by Murou Saisei.


Rebirth (Yokame no semi)Rebirth
Dir. Izuru Narushima
Cast: Mao Inoue, Hiromi Nagasaku, Konomi Watanabe, Eiko Koike, Hitori Gekidan
2011 / 147min / Colour / English Subtitles
Kiwako (Hiromi Nagasaku) runs away with her married lover’s baby, spending four years on the run and bringing up the child as her own until one day she is arrested. The child abductee Erina (Mao Inoue) is returned to her birth parents, but is never able to come to terms with what happened in her childhood. Now grown up, Erina travels to the town where she grew up to discover the truth about her past. Based on the popular novel by Mitsuyo Kakuta, Izuru Narushima’s acclaimed drama questioning nature over nurture scooped an astounding 11 awards at the 2012 Japanese Academy Awards 2012, including best film and best director. A huge hit both critically and commercially, the film also ranked first in the Readers’ Choice awards in Kinema Junpo 2011.


Mai Mai Miracle (Maimai shinko to sennen no maho)Mai_Mai_Miracle
Dir. Sunao Katabuchi
Cast (voice): Mayuko Fukuda, Nako Mizusawa, Ei Morisako, Manami Honjo
2009 / 93min / Colour / English Subtitles
Inspired by her grandfather’s stories, nine-year-old Shinko journeys into the past through her magical method of time travel, conjured entirely by her vivid imaginings of the past. Upon making a new friend with the upper class Kiiko, they quickly discover they both have a fascination with history and what happened in the past, and transport back to the town a thousand years before, almost as if their dreams could become a reality. Adapted from Nobuko Takagi’s famous novel, Mai Mai Miracle is a beautifully animated nostalgic tale of friendship in post-war Japan. A former assistant of the great Hayao Miyazaki, director Sunao Katabuchi recreates 1950s south western Japan in its full-animated glory, inviting the audience to embark on a miraculous journey into the past with young Shinko.


Zero Focus (Zero no shoten)Zero Focus
Dir. Isshin Inudo
Cast: Tae Kimura, Ryoko Hirosue, Miki Nakatani
2009 / 131min / Colour / English Subtitles
Teiko (Ryoko Hirosue) has her life thrown into turmoil when her newly wed husband of only a week leaves on a business trip and never returns. Brought together by an arranged marriage and knowing little of her husband’s past, Teiko embarks on a journey to discover the dark truth of her husband’s sudden disappearance. Uncovering evidence to suggest her husband was not who she had thought, Teiko learns that her husband was close to two women: elegant aristocrat Sachiko (Miki Nakatani) and receptionist Hisako (Tae Kimura); two mysterious women who may know more than they protest. Isshin Inudo’s gripping Hitchcockian murder-mystery set in the beautiful location of post war Kanazawa features an all-star female cast in an adaptation of the celebrated crime novel by Seicho Matsumoto and revival of the classic 1961 Yoshitaro Nomura film.


Ninja Kids!!! (Nintama rantaro)NINJA KIDS!!!
Dir. Takashi Miike
Cast: Shindo Nakamura, Naoto Takenaka, Susumu Terajima, Hiroki Matsukata, Mikijiro Hira
2011 / 100min / Colour / English Subtitles
Set in the early 16thcentury, the story follows little Rantaro (Seishiro Kato), a young aspiring ninja born into a family of farmers in disguise. Blessed with opportunity to leave his family’s farm and enrol into a Ninja Academy run by Denzo Yamada (Susumu Terajima), Rantaro plunges into a crazy school packed full of explosive and dangerous tasks and madcap teachers. However, when a rival clan arrives, the school’s future is thrown in jeopardy and it’s down to Rantaro and his loveable classmates to save the day. This wacky live-action adaptation of the long-running children’s cartoon Nintama Rantaro is full of slapstick gags and comic schemes from the warped mind of the ever prolific director Takashi Miike, guaranteed to entertain kids and big kids alike! 


Synopsis courtesy of The Japan Foundation



Japanese Christmas Music


December is Christmas extravaganza month on Geordie Japan, expect lots of Christmas Related articles in the run up to Christmas, starting today!


Ho Ho Ho! ‘Tis the season to be Jolly! But what’s that? You’re not feeling jolly and in the Christmas spirit yet? Well Geordie Japan has  just the remedy for you! What you need is some lovely Christmas tunes to get you in the mood, but forget Maria Carey or Bing Crosby, you need some Japanese Christmas music! But where would you find such a thing? Right here on Geordie Japan of course!


Click on the youtube video below for a playlist of 16 Japanese Christmas songs complete with music videos. Under the video you can find a track listing and individual links to all the songs! If you enjoy it, please share the link with your friends.


Click here to play the playlist from youtube

Continue reading

David Cameron In Japan & Nissan In The North East

Prime Minister David Cameron is currently on a mission to Japan to boost trade in several areas, most prominently weapons development apparently (great…) which harkens back to the Lord Armstrong constructing ships and weaponry for the Japanese forces.  While he is in Japan Mr Cameron will be visiting Nissan’s head office in Yokohama in order to foster the continued relationship between Nissan and the North East, he is expected a to announce 1000 new jobs being created at the Nissan plant in Sunderland.

Nissan has operated a car building factory on the former site of the Sunderland airfield since 1986, and offered many jobs to a community that had recently been rocked by the closure of both the plethora of the regions coalmines as well as the shipyards. Then Prime Minister Margret Thatcher and Nissan President Yataka Kume officially declared the plant open in September of 1986 and since that time the plant has continued to grow, at one point employing over 5000 employees at the site. Due to the recession that number has decreased but with the expected announcement of 1000 new jobs the number of employees will return to near the 5000 rate apparently. The plant is the largest car factory in the UK and the most productive in Europe.

Nissan at Sunderland employs the Japanese system of Kaizen (改善) and which means ‘change for improvement’ or ‘continuous change’. Kaizen refers to the process of encouraging the entire workforce from the top to the bottom to seek out areas that can be improved upon at all times. The often cited example of this is an employee on a production line needimng to bend down to reach parts from a box on the floor; this should be improved by raising the box to an optimum level to increase productivity. The kaizen system was first implemented in Japan following World War 2 and has since spread across the globe and across many different types of businesses.

Certainly the news that new jobs are coming to the region is always good news, especially in this economic climate. The news that Mr Cameron is trying to foster more trade with Japan is welcome too, and we wait to see if it will impact upon the North East beyond the Nissan factory.

Admiral Togo Pays Thanks To Newcastle Shipyards


We previously covered the Iwakura Mission and how it established links between Japan and the North East of England. The most prominent link was with the weaponry and naval ships provided by the Armstrong armament factory in Elswick and the connection was deemed so important that one of Japan’s top naval commanders visited the region in 1911.


Admiral Tōgō Heihachirō (東郷 平八郎) is recognised as one of Japan’s greatest naval heroes and was referred to as ‘The Nelson of the East’ by Western journalists; perhaps fostered by Togo himself who wrote in his diary (which he handily wrote in English) “I am firmly convinced that I am the re-incarnation of Horatio Nelson”.


Admiral Togo and previously spent part of his young life, 1871-78, studying in England and upon his return to Japan rose through the Naval ranks, first being promoted to Captain of his own ship then advanced through the Admiral hierarchy, then to Commander in Chief of the Combined Japanese Fleet and in 1913 was awarded the honorific title of Fleet Admiral. Admiral Togo was in charge of the Japanese fleet that destroyed the Russian Baltic fleet at the battle of Tsushima, the battle in which it was claimed that every gun (and several of the ships, including the Kashima) used by the Japanese in the battle were manufactured by Armstrong in the North East.


Although Admiral Togo himself was not present at the time, the crew of the Kashima, lead by Captain Ijicki, were hailed as ‘Togo’s Heroes’ and received an appropriate welcome in Newcastle in 1906, a year after the battle of Tsushima on a mission to thank the Shipbuilders. Culminating in the crew being the guests of honour at the Newcastle Vs Stoke football match at St. James Park (Newcastle 5 – 0 Stoke).



Crew of the Kashima at Newcastle United — Thanks to @delaval_astley


In 1911 Admiral Togo himself visited Newcastle to show his thanks for the building and arming of the Japanese Navy. He was met by Sir Andrew Noble who has succeeded Lord Armstrong as head of Armstrong’s Armament Works following Lord Armstrong’s Death in 1900. Noble received Togo at his home, Jesmond Dene House, now operating as a hotel and restaurant. Not much information about his stay is available but it is clear that he also visited Glasgow and Barrow, then moving on to visit the USA before returning to his native Japan, where he would be put in charge of the education of the young Emperor Hirohito.


Back row L to R: Wm Charles Dundas, Sir A. Noble, Cmdr S. Saito and Cmdr N. Taniquchi. Front row: Admiral Togo and Lady Noble


Admiral Togo died a hero and respected around the world in 1934 aged 86. Upon his death the navies of Great Britain, America, Netherlands, China, France and Italy each sent ships to partake in a naval parade in his honour in Tokyo Bay. A large statue of the Admiral stands in Mikasa park, next to the Mikasa museum, and overlooks Tokyo Bay. Jesmond Dene House still proudly advertises the fact that the Admiral stayed at the location.



St. Sushi Japanese Restaurant



What: St. Sushi

Where: Newcastle Chinatown Area, Westgate Road. (Directions)

Phone: 0191 221 0222

Open: Mon-Thurs & Sun 12-15:30, 16:30-22:30. Fri 12-15:30, 16:30-23:00, Sat 12-23:00

Facebook: Fan Page


Since 2006 St. Sushi has garnered a reputation as one of top places to eat in Newcastle, let alone in Chinatown. Situated just opposite the Mill Volvo Theatre (formally the Tyne Journal Theatre) St. Sushi is instantly recognisable from the outside by its unusually shaped frontage, and the large fish logo above the door!


Japanese symbol of good luck greet you at the door.

As soon as you enter the restaurant you are greeted by a fish tank and several lucky cat figures, both symbols of good fortune in Japanese culture. The space is bright and welcoming; with both regular open tables available as well as comfortable booth seats. Two large pictures of the busy crossing in Ginza, Tokyo (instantly recognisable from many films, most notably ‘Lost in Translation’) adorn the walls, while a television screen between them plays Asian music videos/concerts which serve as the restaurants soundtrack. The waitresses are helpful, welcoming and friendly and dress in a kimono inspired uniform.


A Chicken Teriyaki Bento Box from St. Sushi

On the menu, as their name might suggest, sushi is main attraction here, although it is not by any means all that is served in the restaurant. Huge sushi platters for groups are available, bento-box sushi sets for a single meal, as well as individual sushi pieces if you want to mix and match or have them as a side dish. Plenty of other non-sushi and/or non-fish options are available including, but not limited to, simple rice and noodle dishes. A good place to start if you are spoilt for choice is one of the bento boxes, sure to impress straight away with their beautiful presentation!


St. Sushi is a great place to go for either a light bite or a hearty meal, the food is reasonably priced and the waitresses are more than helpful if this is your first foray into sushi (or even if it’s not!). Next time you’re heading out for a meal, why not give St. Sushi a try?

Late Shows: Origami & More



The Late Shows: Free Origami & More

When: Saturday May 19th 2012, (7-11pm)

Where: Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University (Directions)

Price: Free!

WebsiteHatton GalleryThe Late Shows

Fancy trying a spot of late night origami? Then pop along to the Hatton Gallery on the 19th of May after 7pm and you can help to create an origami installation. While you are there you can also watch a slow motion dance, drink some relaxing and healthy drinks in the therapy bar or even try your hand at the Chinese art discipline of Tai chi.

Now in its sixth year The Late Rooms main objective is to encourage people to visit museums and galleries that they may not have visited before by opening up spaces after dark for a weekend. The multitude of venues that take part in The Late Rooms means that you can plan your own cultural crawl across the city. Find the full details here.

Origami (折り紙) is the Japanese art of paper folding, and began at some point after paper was introduced by Buddhist monks to Japan in the 6th century. The first recorded use of origami was in 1680 in a Poem by Ihara Saikaku which described the use of origami butterflies in Shinto weddings. The first known origami guide book was written in Japan in 1797 and origami became ingrained into Japanese culture and lore, with memorable tales of paper birds that turned into real ones becoming common children’s stories.

Modern origami owes much to Akira Yoshizawa’s resurgence of the art form in 1954, from there Origami has grown into a global phenomenon with increasingly complex designs forming incredible creations that baffle the mind with their ingenuity. Of course simplicity still holds strong with the paper crane remaining one of the simplest and most popular origami designs the world over.

Art Event: Free Origami Workshop




Art Event: Free Origami Workshop

When: Thursday April 5th 2012, (10.30am-12.30pm – Drop in)

Where: Hatton Gallery, Newcastle University (Directions)

Price: Free!


Tucked away just inside the main entrance of Newcastle University you can find the Hatton Gallery, which on the 5th of April will be holding a free drop in origami workshop with the Chinese artist Lip Lee. While this may sound intimidating, all are welcome and no prior origami experience is required!

Origami (折り紙) is the Japanese art of paper folding, and began at some point after paper was introduced by Buddhist monks to Japan in the 6th century. The first recorded use of origami was in 1680 in a Poem by Ihara Saikaku which described the use of origami butterflies in Shinto weddings. The first known origami guide book was written in Japan in 1797, since then origami has become ingrained into Japanese culture and lore, with memorable tales of paper birds that turned into real ones becoming common children’s stories.

Modern origami owes much to Akira Yoshizawa’s resurgence of the art form in 1954, from there Origami has grown into a global phenomenon with increasingly complex designs forming incredible creations that baffle the mind with their ingenuity. Of course simplicity still holds strong with the paper crane remaining one of the simplest and most popular origami designs the world over.


The weather has been fantastic in Newcastle this week signalling the start of the journey towards the summer, why not usher it in with a nice cool drink of Ramune (ラムネ)?

Ramune is a modern symbol of summer in Japan and is often enjoyed by all ages all over Asia. The drink is commonly associated with hot summer nights and is frequently drunk during summer festivals. The drink was first introduced in Kobe, Japan, in 1884 by the Scottish entrepreneur Alexander Cameron Sim who first advertised it to the local populous as a preventative for Cholera, since then the drink has gone on to become ingrained into Japanese culture, even a bottle makes its way into ‘My Neighbour Totoro’!

Ramune comes in many flavours, but the traditional flavour is lemon-lime, and it is a refreshing experience not dissimilar to sprite. The real attraction with Ramune is the bottle that it is packaged in; when Sim introduced the drink originally he cannily tapped into the novelty aspect that could be given to the drink when packaged in the English engineer Hiram Codd’s ‘Codd bottle’. This unusually shaped glass bottle immediately stands out from the crowd, and uses the carbonated drinks own pressure to keep a marble in place under the rim, sealing the drink inside the bottle.

Here is a step by step guide to enjoying a Ramune, a surprisingly difficult process for those unfamiliar with the product

On the off chance you can't read these, use our instructions!

  1. Remove the plastic wrapping from the top of the bottle
  2. Remove the cap
  3. Remove the inner cap and pop out the stopper pusher from it
  4. Place the stopper pusher on top of the hole in the top of the bottle and push firmly
  5. The marble will be released and the drink is ready to consume

The marble can sometimes become a hindrance and block the liquid from the opening, so it is best enjoyed with a straw which is available upon request from stores when buying a Ramune.

You can buy Ramune from Hiyou (Newgate Street) or 7Days ( St. Andrews Street), the drink is priced at around 80p –  £2.00 (plastic bottles are cheaper than the glass ones), find Ramune in the chiller fridges. The drink is certainly a refreshing experience on hot days like these, enjoy!

Anime Event: Anime Attacks

This Event has now passed


Anime Event: Anime Attacks

When: June 13-14 2012 – 7-late (13th) All Day (14th)

Where: Gateshead Central Library (Directions)

Price: £5 For Both Days

(Buy on the door or at Travelling Man/Gateshead Central Library from April)

Restrictions: 16+ for the Friday evening club event and 12+ for the Saturday daytime event

Website: Here

This June Gateshead Central Library will be hosting its second Anime Attacks event; the convention will include film screenings, cosplay sessions, art sessions, ‘live geekshow’, artist’s corner, gaming tournaments and more.

Anime (アニメ- Japanese Animation) has become one of Japan’s most popular cultural exports since the mid 1980’s, and has amassed a large cult following around the world. In the West Anime is often used as a term to separate the animated cartoon from the printed form which is commonly referred to as manga. Cosplay is the act of dressing up as characters from media, often anime and manga, this is closely connected with the ‘otaku’ or ‘fanboy’ culture.

More information will be available closer to the date.

Japanese Tea at Tea Sutra


What: Tea Sutra Tea House (ティー スートラ)

Where: Newcastle City Centre (Directions)

Open: Mon-Sat 11.00-20.00 (Last Orders 19:30)


Facebook: Fan Page


The Floor Space in Tea Sutra

Newcastle can sometimes be a stressful place and everyone needs to unwind from time to time, and what better way than with a nice pot of tea in a relaxing setting? That’s exactly what you get at Tea Sutra, conveniently placed in the heart of Newcastle, they serves over a hundred different types of tea from all over the world, including a large Japanese collection, as well as vegetarian and vegan food and savouries.


If you get the chance, try the Zashiki for the best experience.

Tea Sutra is set a few floors above street level in an inviting open space with huge windows that light is allowed to flood in through. Large green plants compliment the Asian style seating and hanging lights add a dreamy quality to the space. The two real stars of the setting though are the huge wall of tea, tea pots and tea related products that adorn the wall behind the bar and the large Zashiki sitting platform. The Zashiki features traditional floor seating with floor level tables as well as a selection of reading material on Asian culture.


Over 100 teas are available to drink at Tea Sutra with more added all the time.

There are almost too many teas to choose from on the menu but that means there’s always a new type to try whenever you go. Each tea is served in a different fashion depending on its variety ranging from infusion tea pots to elephant and camel shaped pots. Tea Sutra is a haven for tea enthusiasts, serving everything from familiar English tea to Sencha green tea, although it’s also worth checking out even if tea isn’t your thing, as you’re bound to find something that you can enjoy in this beautiful city centre relaxation spot.


There is also a selection of gifts available, including the previously mentioned elephant tea pots, as well as being able to purchase the various types of tea to take home. In addition to their tea services there are a range of treatment and therapy sessions available from acupuncture and massages to hypnotherapy, full details can be found on the website. Various special events occur in Tea Sutra including an open Japanese conversation group, Thursdays (6-8pm,) and a Closed Japanese conversation group for Newcastle University Japanese students only, Tuesdays (6-8pm), expect a feature on the open conversation group in the near future.


If you’re looking for a place to enjoy Japanese (or any other kind) of tea then you couldn’t find a more relaxing place than Tea Sutra.