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



20 Facts About Astro Boy


This Friday at the Star and Shadow Cinema, the film The Echo Of Astro Boy’s Footsteps will play, about the sound designer for the anime ‘Astro Boy’ who  effectively created the soundtrack for all anime to follow and his sudden retreat from the public eye in the 1980’s.

But what is Astro Boy? And what should you know about it before you watch the film? Well luckily for you Geordie Japan is back with another in our 20 facts series; with 20 fun facts about Astro Boy!


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Event: Chinese New Year



Event:  Chinese New Year

When: Sunday 10 Feb 11am – 5pm

Where: Stowell Street (and surrounding area) Newcastle City Center


Price: Free

Okay so it’s not Japanese, but it’s probably the biggest Asian celebration in Newcastle so we would be silly not to promote it! 2013 is the Year of the Snake and to celebrate there will be a parade and a host of events in Chinatown.

The events are as follows;

Chinatown Map

  1. Parade, Chinese Arch, Stowell Street, From 12.30pm approx –Traditional dragon, lion and unicorn dances.
  2. Chinese Exhibitions, North East Chinese Association, Stowell Street, 12.30pm – 4pm – The North East Chinese Association presents an exhibition of Chinese costume, food, arts and crafts.
  3. Chinese Market & Fairground, Bath Lane & Thornton Square – 11am – 5pm – Funfair and stalls featuring traditional arts and crafts and Chinese food.
  4. Various Events At The Bath Lane Stage – Bath Lane11.30am: Speeches – Speeches from key representatives of the Chinese Community and Newcastle City Council from 11.30am.
    1. b.      12noon: Eye Dotting CeremonyA unique opportunity to witness the auspicious Eye Dotting Ceremony of the new Chinese Dragon as he is awoken from his slumber to the sound of firecrackers.
    2. c.       12.30pm – 5pm: Performances An exciting spectacle of performances and demonstrations, with the lion dance arriving to distribute Lucky Money at 4pm approx.
  5. Chinese Activities, The Chinese Centre, Westgate Road,11am – 5pm – Chinese zodiac, calligraphy, foods, card and calendar making, fortune telling, lucky draw and games.
  6. Children’s Marquee, Thornton Square, 11am – 5pm –Traditional Chinese arts and crafts and fun for all the family.
  7. Chinese Activities and Games, Dance City, Temple Street, 11am – 5pm – The Chinese Students and Scholars Association and Newcastle University invite you to understand the real Chinese culture; come along and take part in Chinese activities and games old and new.

You can download the brochure with all the information in here.

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.


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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!



When most Westerners people hear the phrase ‘karaoke’ it evokes one emotion…fear. It conjures the image of a crowded bar, everyone’s eyes on you, watching, judging as you attempt to summon the courage to begin singing publically. Sweat pours down your brow as you hope and pray that you won’t clear the place out. It seems that the phrase ‘I couldn’t sing in front of people!!’ follows on from the notion of karaoke like a Pavlovian response.


My rendition of 'Sex Bomb' seems to be winning them over!

My rendition of ‘Sex Bomb’ seems to be winning them over!


Fortunately in Japan, most of Asia, and increasingly the rest of the world karaoke is done in a different way to the stereotypical neurosis educing nightmare scenario described above. Of course those public karaoke establishments still exist all over the world but often more popular are the ‘karaoke boxes’ (カラオケボックス) or private karaoke rooms. Before we delve into these though, let’s take a look at the history of karaoke.


Karaoke (カラオケ), which literally means ‘empty orchestra’, is the practice of amateur singers singing over backing tracks to popular songs that have had the lead vocals removed. The origin of the karaoke machine is debated, with Japan and the Philippines both claiming to have invented the practice, it appears karaoke developed almost simultaneously in both countries. The Japanese originator of the practice was Daisuke Inoue (井上 大佑) who invented the karaoke machine and began renting them to bars around Kobe, Japan in the late 70s. Since then the practice caught on like wildfire across Asia and began making an impact into Western culture in the late 80s through to the 90s; when it became common place to find bars holding karaoke nights. This is where the often cited nightmare at the beginning of this article developed. So what are these karaoke boxes and how do they differ from the karaoke bars of old?

Typical Karaoke Room

Typical Karaoke Room


Karaoke boxes (also known as KTV or K) are private karaoke rooms which often hold between 6 and 20 people, although 6-10 is probably the standard size of a typical room. There are usually multiple rooms within a single establishment so you and your friends can sing in private without the embarrassment of having to sing in front of strangers. The room itself usually contains sofas, a table, the karaoke equipment and microphones. Drinks and food are normally available as well to encourage a social atmosphere and to help with any anxiety you may have about singing, even if it’s just in front of your friends.


We at Geordie Japan can’t get enough of karaoke, it really is that much fun and once you get into it, you’re bound to be singing well into the early hours of the morning. It can look expensive at first but when you consider you will be splitting the cost probably at least 4 ways it becomes much more affordable. But where can you try these private karaoke rooms in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne?

Here are a selection of the karaoke rooms in Newcastle, let us know what others you would recommend in the comments below!


Moji Restaurant


Cosy Joes



So why not give it a go, you never know, you might just enjoy it!


Japan, Olympic Football 2012 & Newcastle



Unless you have been living under a rock you will know that the Olympics are being held in London this year, but what you may not know is that the Olympic football will be spread out across the country, and good old St. James Park (urgh…Sports Direct Arena) is going to be hosting a portion of the games.


Japan are entering in both Male and Female football teams into the games, the highest both teams have reached in the Olympics in the quarterfinals stage in 2000 and 2004 respectively. There is a chance that the female team may play a game at St. James depending on how their group goes, however it was confirmed in yesterdays draw that at least one game will be played by the Japanese male Olympic team in Newcastle.


Match15: 29 July 2012, 19:45 — Japan vs Morocco — St. James Park.


Japan’s male team (nicknamed ‘Samurai Blue’ サムライ・ブルー) have drawn Group D, along with Spain, Morocco and Honduras. If Japan is the runner up in their group they will play another game at St. James Park. Japan’s female team have drawn group F with Canada, Sweden and South Africa. They are not playing at St. James Park but if they come third in their group they could play a game in Newcastle.


The Last Olympic Japanese Football Team in 2008


Olympic football is notoriously different to that of the World Cup as in the spirit of the original games the players are supposed to be non-professional athletes. The distinction in what is and isn’t a professional is somewhat blurry so the rules state that the team must be composed of under 23’s (3 players may be above that age) and no player that has competed in a World Cup tournament may enter the Olympics (the same restrictions do not apply to Women). This has produced some results that seem bizarre when compared to the ‘major leagues’ results and winners, with such Olympic football teams as Uruguay winning two Olympics in a row. This arguably makes the results more exciting and unpredictable than the World Cup as it appears that anyone has a shot at winning!


Other Games that will be played for certain at St. James Park are;



Match 2: Mexico Vs South Korea

Japan's Special Olympic Strip for 2012

Match 5: Gabon Vs Switzerland

Match 17: Brazil Vs New Zealand

Match 12: Spain Vs Honduras

Match 15: Japan Vs Morocco

Match 27: Winner Group C Vs Runner Up Group D



Match 14: Canada Vs Sweden

Match 16: France Vs Colombia

Match 20: Winner Group G Vs Third Place E or F


Howay Samurai Blue!



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.

Music Event: Ikue Mori & Maja S.K.Ratkje


Band: Ikue Mori & Maja S.K.Ratkje

When: Wednesday 28th March 2012 — 8:00pm

Where: The Cluny (Directions)

Price: £10.00 Buy Tickets Here

Support: ‘John Wiese’ & ‘Trancers II’

Restrictions: None

As a late addition to Newcastle’s AV festival Japan’s Ikue Mori (もりいくえ) teams up with Norway’s Maja S.K. Ratkie to become an avant-garde super team. The pair have only teamed briefly before and this is their very first tour together, this is a must for fans of experimental and noise music.

Ikue Mori was Born in Tokyo, Japan in 1953 but moved to New York City in 1977 after hearing the beginnings of punk rock music. Mori joined the band DNA as their drummer, the band focused on playing their instruments in a non-traditional manner and creating unique sounds into sparse and noisy music. After DNA’s break up Mori struck out as a solo artist playing drum machines designed to sound broken and became massively influencial in the New York experimental scene. Beyond her solo work she has collaborated with such artists as John Zorn, Zeena Parkins and Mike Patton.

Official Site

Music Event: Guitar Wolf


Band: Guitar Wolf  (ギターウルフ)

When: Tuesday 5th June 2012 — 8:00pm

Where: The Cluny (Directions)

Price: £12.00 (£13.20 with booking) Buy Tickets Here

Support: ‘Fathoms’

Restrictions: Over 18’s only

Officially Guitar Wolf’s music is listed as “jet rock ‘n’ roll”  and it’s a pretty apt description. Blending Ramones style punk with rockabilly, noise and garage rock n’ roll Guitar Wolf have their own unique style and they are bringing it to Newcastle in June 2012.

Formed in Harajuku in 1987 Guitar Wolf have gone on to release nine studio albums as well as several EPs and a live album. The band each adopted the surname Wolf to reflect the Ramones influence on the band, and their instrument as their first names. The band consist of Guitar Wolf (Seiji), Bass Wolf (U.G) and Drum Wolf (Toru), U.G is the most recent member of the band joining in 2005 after the previous Bass Wolf (Billy) sadly passed away.

Guitar Wolf are known not only for their music but their style, decked out in leather from head to toe, rockabilly styled haircuts and always rocking the shades. Their live shows ooze as much cool as their appearance does, ignoring the frantic pace that they play at reportedly the live shows in the past have seen props such as giant over sized amps, huge light displays and microphones that spew fire. How much of that will be in the Cluny is debatable, but what’s not is that Guitar Wolf will be delivering a frantic live show with an unmatched energy that will assault your eardrums.

Visit the official site here