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

 

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Geordie Japan’s 2012 Year In Review

 

 

Wow what a year, since launching on the 13th of March 2012 Geordie Japan has exploded far beyond what was ever expected of it. 2013 is set to be an exciting year for us but before we look to the future we should look back at the year that was 2012. In this review article you will find some interesting stats about the site and handily, for those of you who are new to the site, links to every article across the past year.

 

Continue reading

20 Facts About Ringu/The Ring

 

The patrons of the Tyneside Cinema voted the original Japanese version of The Ring (リング) (which from this point on will be referred to as “Ringu” for ease”) as the North East’s favourite scary movie. Which is rather nice to hear that there is such demand for Japanese films at Halloween, we covered some Japanese films to get you in the Halloween mood in a previous article and one of our recommendations was Ringu. In order to get you in the mood for the Tyneside’s screening we present Geordie Japan’s 20 facts about Ringu to get you up to speed for Monday.

 

  1. Ringu is based on a book of the same name by Koji Suzuki (鈴木光司) in 1991, Suzuki has also written all of the sequels. The officially released books are : Ring (1991), Spiral (1995), Loop (1998), The Birthday (1999) and S (2012)
  2. Suzuki latest novel in the series is titled ‘S’ and reportedly features the video being uploaded to the internet and the curse travelling via cloud computing.
  3. Suzuki has drawn comparisons to Steven King due to his popularity in Japan with Ringu, Dark Water and other terrifying novels.
  4. It is a little known fact that the first adaptation of Ringu was in 1995, this was a television movie named Ringu: Kanzenban (リング 完全版) which literally means Ring: Complete Edition.
  5. The original novel was once again turned into a feature film in 1998 called Ringu by Hideo Nakata (中田 秀夫).  This is the more famous adaptation of Susuki’s book.
  6. Ringu was released in tandem with an adaptation of the sequel novel Spiral in a ploy to generate more revenue. This film was made by Jōji Iida (飯田譲治) and is often referred to as the ‘forgotten sequel’ due to the fact that it bombed because of the success of Ringu. Its events are ignored by later Ringu films.
  7. Ringu was remade in Hollywood as The Ring in 2002 by Gore Verbinski starring Naomi Watts. The film went on to have one sequel.
  8. Hideo Nakata made his English language debut with The Ring Two, a sequel to the remake of his original film.
  9. While The Ring is the most famous remake of Ringu it is not the first. Just one year after Ringus release it was remade in South Korea as The Ring Virus (1999).
  10. In total there have been 9 official films (6 Japanese, 3 remakes/spin offs), 2 television series, 2 video games and one short film in the Ringu series.
  11. The latest film in the Ringu franchise was Sadako 3D. The film has yet to be given a UK release and sadly a cinematic release seems unlikely, a dvd release is expected at some point.
  12. When Sadako 3D was released in Japan last year the country went Ringu crazy and some of the more unusual marketing tactics included unleashing hundreds of Sadako’s in Tokyo, driving a giant Sadako around the capital and having Sadako throw out the first pitch at a baseball game. You can watch all this insanity here.
  13. According to a recent survey by Oricon Ringu is still considered to be the scariest Japanese film ever
  14. Ringu is also the highest grossing horror film ever in Japan
  15. When the film was released on VHS in England in 2001 the back of the box was labelled with a disclaimer stating the distributor was not responsible “for any injuries or fatalities that may occur during or after the viewing of this videocassette.”
  16. Sadako may seem to Westerners like a novel and original idea but in fact she is actually a very common ghost of Japanese horror tales. She is an Onryō, a vengeful spirit, often represented in a white burial kimono, white and indigo face paint and having unkempt long dark hair. Onryō are usually women and commonly returning from the dead to exact vengeance on those who have wronged them in life.
  17. Sadako was played by Kabuki theatre actress Rie Inou, to achieve her jerky movements she was shot walking backwards and then the film was reversed, giving Sadako her trademark freaky walk.
  18. The iconic shot of Sadako’s eye was not actually Rie Inou’s eye but a male crew members!
  19. A series of Manga novels has also been released in Japan based on the franchise
  20. Scarily the tale is inspired by real events. You can read about them here, however this page contains spoilers for Ringu.

 

The Tyneside Cinema will play Ringu at 6pm on the Wednesay  31 October 2012. Details here.

 

Film: The Ring

 

THIS EVENT HAS NOW PASSED

 

Film: The Ring (Ringu)  (リング)

When: Wednesday 31st October, 18:00pm

Where: Tyneside Cinema (Directions)

Website: https://www.tynesidecinema.co.uk/whats-on/films/view/the-ring

 

The votes for the North East’s favorite scary movie are in… and happily for us The Ring got the most votes!

 

The Ring is the film that kicked off the J-Horror wave of the late 90s – early 2000s. After wowing critics at film festivals the film was released in the West by Tartan Asia Extreme and became a cult classic in no time at all due to its wildly original take on the horror genre (to Western horror fans that is). In 2002 a remake followed which only brought the films notoriety to a wider audience. On the back of The Ring’s success countless Ring inspired films were made, other J-horror films were imported and Hollywood remade every Asian horror movie the could (usually with disastrous results). The Ring is a true modern horror classic and is required viewing for anyone wanting a scare this Halloween!

 

Reiko Asakawa is a young journalist with a divorced husband, Ryuji, and a son, Yoichi. Her niece, Tomoko, was recently found dead with a look of pure shock embedded in her face as if something scared her to death. Upon learning that her niece’s three friends died at the same time, too, and hearing about a disturbing videotape that is said to kill you seven days after watching it, Reiko comes into the possession of that same tape. Now, as time grows short, Reiko and Ryuji race to save their lives from impending doom and discover what the tape has to do with a tragedy-stricken volcanic island and a very strange little girl named Sadako …  (summary provided by IMDB)

 

 

SunnyCon 2013

***This Event Has Now Passed***

 

Event:  Sunnycon 2013

When: Saturday & Sunday 23rd-24th March 2013

Where: Seaburn Center (Directions)

Website: http://www.sunnycon.co.uk

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SunderlandConvention

Price: £30 VIP, £25 13+, £10 Under 12’s

Tickets: available online here

Returning to Sunderland for it’s second year SunnyCon looks to take over the city once again, a must for anyone in the region interested in Anime, Manga or Japan in general.

“After the roaring success from last year’s SunnyCon, on Saturday & Sunday 23rd-24th March 2013 we will be back and bigger than ever hosting SunnyCon2. Our guest list so far includes Vic Mignogna, Ginny McQueen & Colleen Clinkenbeard.

Over the two days there will be new and exciting demonstrations, panels, Martials arts, shows & more as well as retail stalls, artist stands & a gaming area. We will have some delicious Japanese cuisine, so go on spoil yourself! Keep an eye on the events page to see what will be happening.

The event will be taking place in the Seaburn Centre situated on Sunderland’s coast line. Nearby we have a large Morrison’s supermarket. The event is from 9am for V.I.P ticket holders and from 10am for everyone else until 6pm. Keep it here and on our social networks for the latest updates including guests, events and other convention announcements.

Treat yourself! Come a long and immerse yourself in fascinating Japanese tradition.” – SunnyCon

Lucky Number 七

 

Over the weekend Geordie Japan hit 7000 views, now perhaps in website terms that’s not that much, but for a niche blog that’s only been online since March I’m pretty damn proud of that figure. I’m hoping for big things for the blog and beyond and hopefully the number 7 will bring us some luck with this, why? Well seven is considered a lucky number in Japan (and other parts of Asia too) but what’s so special about seven?

 

7, or 七 (pronounced “nana” or “shichi”) in Japanese, is deeply ingrained into Japanese culture. In the Buddhist religion when one becomes a ‘stream winner’ they can be reborn a maximum of seven times before reaching nibbana. There are also regarded to be seven Buddhist treasures. This religious association with the number seems to be the origin point in Japanese culture for the importance of the figure of seven.

 

The part where seven becomes lucky starts with the seven lucky gods (七福神). The seven gods are most commonly known to be;

  • Hotei – the fat and happy god of abundance and good health
  • Jurōjin – god of longevity
  • Fukurokuju – god of happiness, wealth and longevity
  • Bishamonten – god of warriors
  • Benzaiten – goddess of knowledge, art and beauty, especially music
  • Daikokuten – god of wealth, commerce and trade.
  • Ebisu – god of fishers or merchants, often depicted carrying a sea bream

Of the group only Ebisu is known to be Japanese, Hotei, Jurōjin and Fukurokuju are from China while Bishamonten, Benzaiten and Daikokuten are from India. The seven lucky gods are often depicted sailing on a treasure ship, the Takarabune (宝船), and will sail into port on New Year and distribute gifts and wealth to those deemed worthy, Children will often be given red envelopes with the image of the Takarabune on it containing money around this time. Children are also encouraged to put either a picture of the seven gods or the Baku (a mythical being that devours nightmares) under their pillow on the evening of January 1st. If you have a dream that night where you are blessed with good fortune in life then you will be lucky for the year, provided you do not tell anyone. On the other hand if you have an unlucky dream then you must prey to the Baku spirit and set the picture adrift in the nearest river or ocean. On January seventh it is traditional to eat nanakusa-gayu (seven herb rice porridge) which is packed full of good vitamins to help you recover from your New Year over celebrations, it is also thought to prevent illness for the year. Further reading on the seven lucky gods can be found here.

 

The number seven has also ingrained itself into both the celebration of life and the mourning of death in Japan. After a baby is born its birth is celebrated on its seventh day of life, conversely after someone’s death there is seven days of mourning, then they are mourned once again seven weeks after the death. Other life monuments are often marked alongside the number seven somehow, such as in the 7-5-3 festival which held on the 15th November where children aged seven, three and five visit their local Shinto shrines and are blessed. Girls aged 3 and boys aged 5 are formally welcomed into the community at this event and Girls aged seven are allowed from this day to wear the decorative obi sash with their kimono as they have now entered womanhood.  The Tanabata (七夕) star festival is held on the seventh day of the seventh month, again luck is once again associated with this as it is traditional to write your wishes down and hang them from a specially erected bamboo tree.

 

Film Still from The Seven Samurai

So from this deep rooted concept of the lucky number seven it’s no surprise to find that the number is prevalent in Japanese popular culture. Such as in Akira Kurosawa’s legendary Seven Samurai (七人の侍) in which seven warriors attempt to defend a village, the film was later remade in the West as The Magnificent Seven. There is also a Japanese manga named Nana (Japanese for 7) in which two girls, both named Nana, come together coincidentally and share an apartment together, the apartment is number 707 of course.  There are many references to the number seven in the manga, and later the anime and live action film versions. There is a television drama named lucky seven and even AKB48 have a song named for the number. Overall Japanese films, television programs,  songs, manga, video games and every aspect of popular culture often somehow includes a reference to seven.

 

So with all that, can you blame me for being excited that we have hit 7000 views? I’ll leave you with two things, firstly a Japanese proverb;

Nana korobi ya oki (七転び八起き) which literally means “seven falls, eight getting up”,  an encouraging phrase which reminds us that after life goes down it always comes back up again.

And lastly a question, have you ever wondered why the highest concentration of 7-11 brand supermarkets in the world is in Japan?

 

 

Interactive Map

 

 

Here at Geordie Japan we are always looking for ways to make it easier for you to visit Japanese establishments and events in and around Newcastle. So after a bit of testing and hard work we are proud to announce the Geordie Japan interactive map!

You can click here to see the map or the link will always appear on the right hand side of this page.

 

So far there are 30 markers on there covering 5 different categories 1) Asian Supermarkets 2) Japanese Restaurants* 3) Specialised Japanese Stores 4) Japanese Cinema 5) Japanese Attractions and History.

 

*Sometimes this is a bit of a grey area, I have included on this first version of the map explicitly Japanese restaurants and Asian fusion restaurants with a large Japanese menu selection.

 

But here’s what we want from you! Firstly feedback on the map itself, but also on additional venues that we may have missed (the map is very much a work in progress) or in the future, venues that have opened or closed. Are there any other categories you would like to see on there? Would you like to see all the Asian restaurants in Newcastle included on the map? Please let us know by either leaving a comment here or tweeting us!

 

So we hope you enjoy it and find it useful!