Asian News Briefs 3/30

Check out the latest bunch of Asian news.


France Debuts Kabuki

France’s ever-burgeoning love affair with Japanese culture was rewarded big time last week when Japan’s reigning theatrical family, the Ichikawas, brought a large-scale kabuki drama to the Opera National de Paris for the first time.

For one week starting March 23, the Ichikawa clan performed two classic kabuki plays at the Paris Opera. In the tradition of kabuki, which always incorporates something contemporary or topical into the script, part of the entertainment was performed in the French language.

The event was notable for marking the full recovery of the star of the clan, Ichikawa Danjuro XII, who was out of action for much of last year as he fought leukemia.

His son, Ebizo, who is a superstar in Japan, joined him on stage for the Paris performances, as did another father-son pair within the extended Ichikawa clan: Danshiro IV and Kamejiro II. It is rare for all four stars to be together in the same production.

In similar news, 73-year-old Minosuke Yoshida, a master of the traditional "bunraku" puppet theatre, which is older than kabuki, was given the prestigious Commander of the Order of Arts and Literature by the French government on March 18.

Yoshida has often performed in France, and the honor was bestowed upon him by the French ambassador to Japan in a ceremony that took place in Tokyo.



Two days before they were scheduled to start a sold-out Japan tour at Kyocera Dome in Osaka on March 19, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were forced to postpone.

Because Anthony Kiedis was suffering from bronchial pneumonia, his doctors ordered him not to fly for at least 10 days. On March 24, the concerts were rescheduled to June 5-6 for Tokyo and June 8 for Osaka.

On their Web site, the Pet Shop Boys have made it clear that they are not performing in Shanghai on May 2, despite notices posted on the China-based ticketing home page that says they are booked to play at the city’s Rojam Club & Disco on that date. The British pop duo will be in Estonia on May 2, but according to Piao at press time, tickets for the Shanghai show are still on sale.

Following a three-date tour of Japan with the Vooredoms (Boredoms), Sonic Youth

will play its first-ever concerts in China, on April 23 at the Star Live in Beijing and April 24 at the Shanghai Concert Hall. Both shows are, according to the band, "subject to PRC Ministry of Culture approval."

Tickets for a whirlwind Guns N’ Roses tour of Japan went on sale March 18. Japan will be the first dates on the band’s upcoming world tour. Axl Rose and crew will play the Makuhari Messe Convention Center near Tokyo April 14-15, Nagoya’s Rainbow Hall April 18 and Intex Osaka April 21-22.

Arctic Monkeys came all the way to Tokyo to play one Japan gig in advance of the release of their second album, which drops in early April. The quartet played at Zepp Tokyo on March 29. They will return to Japan in August to headline the Summer Sonic festival.

Former Megadeth guitarist Marty Friedman will play a show at the Liquid Room in Tokyo on May 12. Friedman, a big fan of J-pop, works occasionally as a studio musician in Japan and is fluent in Japanese. He’s expanded his local fan base in the past year by appearing semi-regularly on a popular English-language-learning "variety show" on Japanese public television.

The second-annual Finnish Music Days in Tokyo festival will take place May 25. Last year’s two-day blowout, divided into metal acts and non-metal acts, will be limited to a single-day this year, though a number of participants, including Stratovarius and Apocalyptica, will carry out separate Japan tours either before or after the fest.

My Chemical Romance will make its third trip to Japan in less than

a year when the band returns for a one-night stand at Budokan on May 29. The band just finished a Japan tour in January that included its first-ever appearance at the legendary martial arts venue.

One of Japan’s longest-running festivals, The Japan Blues Carnival,

renamed itself the Japan Blues and Soul Carnival last year.

Normally, the Carnival takes place in May, but this year it will happen in July at the usual venue, the Hibiya Park Amphitheatre in Tokyo. The headliners are Koko Taylor and Lurrie Bell.