Thousands enjoy 2016 Japan Festival
• In his remarks, Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado said, “This
Japan Festival is always a huge thing. Here we can experience a wide variety
of Japanese culture in one place.”
• The Festival opened with “Soran Dance” performed by the
student of Futabakai Japanese Day School.
• In the theatre, taiko drumming, a choir of Japanese music, Okinawa taiko and dance, Japanese classical dance, Hawaiian music and dance, koto music, and string music were performed. Documentary films were also screened. New York performers Toshi Nakazawa and PESU entertained the visitors on Saturday evening.
• In the hallway, many visitors tried on yukata dresses and
a suit of armor. A tea ceremony was demonstrated, and the visitors experienced
a ball of tea. Ikebana and bonsai were displayed in the exhibit room.
• One of the most joyful parts of the Festival was Japanese food. The visitors enjoyed ramen noodles, takoyaki, gyoza, gyudon, curry and rice, onigiri, lunch boxes, and more. Snowball and cotton candy were the favorite of children.
• Japan Festival was started in the early 1980s by the Chicago
Japanese American Association. It was one of Botanic Garden’s most popular
events for long time. After the Association was closed, CJC (then Mid America
Japanese Club) took over the event and moved the Festival to Arlington Heights
in 2005 due to an extensive renovation in the Botanic Garden.
• This year, the Chicago Japanese American Council (CJAC)
hosted the Festival for the first time. President Yoshiike of CJC said that
if all the 12 organizations under CJAC came together and collaborated to host
the Festival, there would be a strong entity to hold Japan Festival.
Interview with a Vendor
• Jia Senghe of Chicago exhibited and sold some shakuhachi
(bamboo clarinet) at the Festival. Some of them were handmade by him. He also
played shakuhachi for the visitors, and his sound was subtle and profound.
Toshihiko Nakazawa & PESU:
• On the stage two performers, Toshihiko Nakazawa and PESU, began with an unexpected announcement: “Please feel free to take pictures and record videos; please make sure that your cell phones are turned on.” This unusual announcement, written by Nakazawa himself, symbolized what was to come during the performance by the pair. As PESU drew pictures on a large white board, Nakazawa appeared on the stage, clad with the Statue-of-Liberty costume and mask, which he took off subsequently. Underneath was a loose, metallic gold outfit, accompanied by his blond hair and shiny sneakers. “In the U.S., straightforward presentation has more impact on people,” was Nakazawa’s verdict.
• Nakazawa learned modern dance while he was attending Daito Bunka University, where he majored in the English language. After graduating, he moved to New York where he has been living since 2010.
Q: How do you get ideas for your dance?
• Nakazawa: I get them from sounds I hear, movements I see, etc. Sometimes even from anime I see.
Q: Who has influenced you as a dancer?
• Nakazawa: The Japanese [dancers] who are performing outside Japan. Particularly, Kenichi Ebina in New York has been my inspiration.
Q: What kind of performance do you do in New York?
• Nakazawa: There is a production in New York where a performer, pretending to be a pedestrian, suddenly starts dancing on the street when the entertainment tour bus “The Ride” comes by with passengers on it. I’m a dancer of that production.
Q: What is the reaction to your performance in New York?
• Nakazawa: It’s easy to tell in New York – when the performance is good, it’s recognized as good; when it’s bad, it’s bad. Of course there are times when it doesn’t go well, but I always try to present good-quality stuff.
Q: Does it pay well?
• Nakazawa: It depends. I sometimes perform for free; other times, I get more than what I thought would be worth.
Q: You move your body quite vigorously. What do you do for physical training?
• Nakazawa: I don’t do any particular muscle training. I just focus on three-minute dance moves plus practice my own dance moves that I created again and again. Anyone who can stand on their heads is capable of dance performance.
Q: I hear that you teach [dance students] at school.
• Nakazawa: Actually I don’t teach students much, but I do lectures at schools.
Q: What is your goal going forward?
• Nakazawa: I hope to continue dancing, but beyond the boundary of a dancer, so I’ll keep searching for something I can do there. Lectures and workshops I do in Japan are part of that search. Also, I like to travel and meet someone new, and hope to develop new kinds of activities.
Q: Any advice for anyone who wants to be a dancer?
• Nakazawa: Anyone who dances for the moment [for the purpose of dancing] is a dancer, and that’s all. So you should think of a goal beyond being a dancer. For example, being a source of impact on others through dancing, encouraging the young people in Japan to have a dream, performing on Broadway, or working actively on a global basis, etc. If you have a goal beyond just being a dancer, then you won’t end there in your life.
Thank you very much.
Q: You’re pretty good. Were you good at drawing when you were a boy?
• PESU: Not really. When I was in grade school, I had a traffic accident and my right eye was badly damaged. They operated on it 13 times. In Japan, kids point fingers at you if you wear an eye patch. I was picked on by other kids and that made me hate to go to school. When I thought my life was over, I discovered the world of graffiti and was attracted to it. I began drawing graffiti using a can of spray paint at the age of 15, and it’s my form of art ever since.
Q: Why did you come to New York?
• PESU: In my home town in Shizuoka, my graffiti on the wall
was quickly washed off. So I went to Tokyo where I took the entrance exam
for Tokyo University of the Arts and other universities, but didn’t pass.
Then I enrolled a technical college, but with my insufficient level of drawing
skill, I didn’t attend classes much. In the meantime I continued to draw graffiti
on the wall but they wash it off in Tokyo, too. When I was in my second year,
other students began preparing for job interviews but I decided to go abroad
instead, convinced that an artist isn’t supposed to be an employed worker.
Q: What did you think about New York?
• PESU: First, I planned to enroll in the Pratt Institute
[in Brooklyn]. Just when I studied for TOEFL and was getting ready to apply,
I tried my luck in Art Battles – an artists’ competition where contestants
complete an art work on canvas on the spot within 1-2 hours – and I won it
two years in a row.
Q: How did you get to know Mr. Nakazawa?
• PESU: Three years ago he asked me to get on the TV show “America’s Got Talent” with him, and we performed on the show together within the one-minute time limit. That made us plan for further collaboration, but the plan was stalled when I had a stroke two years ago. I guess I was doing too much too fast. But now I’ve recovered and made a complete comeback.
Q: Any advice for those who love drawing?
• PESU: My advice would be “draw every day.” If you continue doing it for 10 years, you can absolutely become famous and make money, 100% positive. It’s only the question if you can do it every single day. Even if it’s only one line on a piece of paper, it’s art. That’s what I believe.
Thank you very much.
Consul General Toshiyuki Iwado
Mayor Thomas Hayes