Philadelphia Japan Arts Matsuri

The Philadelphia Japan Arts Matsuri is a three day festival of film and music that’s being held July 7 – 9 at the Prince Music Theaters with all proceeds benefiting the local Philadelphia-Japan Disaster Relief Fund.  The event is Co-Programmed by Cinedelphia, I’m also acting as an event sponsor, and boy are there some incredible films being screened for fans of both Japanese cinema and genre films in general.  You’re a lucky city, Philly.

THU JULY 7, 7:30 PM
Abraxas (2010)
Dir. Naoki Katô, Japan, 113 min, 35mm
An official selection of the 2011 Sundance Film Festival, Abraxas concerns a punk rocker-turned Zen Buddhist monk who grapples with the inner anarchic tendencies of his former self.  He decides to make a return to his roots while staying true to his religious beliefs, the result is both charming and inspiring.  One of the best Japanese films of recent years, highly recommended.

THU JULY 7, 9:30 PM
Ninja Kids!!!
Dir. Takashi Miike, Japan, digital
The newest film from director Takashi Miike, the prolific auteur behind modern Japanese classics such as Audition, Ichi the Killer, and the recent 13 Assassins.  His latest effort is a hyperkinetic adaptation of a beloved Japanese anime/manga concerning a wacky school for young ninjas.  And it’s screening in Philly before its theatrical release date in Japan!  How often does that happen around here?  Be there.

FRI JULY 8, 5:30 PM
Live from Tokyo
Dir. Lewis Rapkin, Japan/US, 81 min, digital
Live From Tokyo
is a documentary on the titular city’s modern underground music scene.  Expect interviews and performances with innovative/eccentric musicians including Tenniscoats, DMBQ, PARA (Boredoms members), Shugo Tokumaru, Tokyo Pinsalocks, Boris, eX-Girl, Ghost, Melt Banana, Ogre You Asshole, and the Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra.

FRI JULY 8, Midnight
Yakuza Weapon
Dir. Tak Sakaguchi + Yudai Yamaguchi, Japan, 105 min, digital
The makers of the modern Japanese cult classic Versus come to Philadelphia for the first time to introduce their newest film, Yakuza Weapon.  Co-director/star Tak Sakaguchi,Co-director Yudai Yamaguchi and other members of the cast and crew will be in attendance to answer questions about this tale of a mercenary who takes on the mob with the help of his arm cannon and rocket launcher leg.  Should be a hoot.

SAT July 9, 6:00 PM
8000 Miles
Dir. Yu Irie, Japan, 80 min, digital
The indie film turned national sensation 8000 Miles concerns a group of clueless suburban rappers who struggle with their hip hop dreams amidst local disinterest and isolation.  A charming and surprisingly touching comedy whose players struggle between selling out and staying true to their art.

The Philadelphia Premiere of the sequel to 8000 Miles, 8000 Miles 2: Girl Rappers (2010), will be screened Saturday July 9 at 8:00 PM.

Other festival activities include free play arcade games from Japan throughout Friday’s activities, a Friday night chiptune concert featuring local performers Chipocrite, Ro-Bear, DJ Cutman, and Data Parade, and a Saturday night hip hop concert featuring local MCs and DJs.  So please come out and be entertained for a worthwhile cause.

Official site.

Author: Eric Bresler

Eric is the Founder/Site Editor of whose additional activities are numerous: Director/Curator of the Philadelphia Mausoleum of Contemporary Art (PhilaMOCA), founder of Tokyo No Records, the brain behind Video Pirates, and active local film programmer including the Unknown Japan screening series. He’s served as a TLA Video Manager, Philadelphia Film Society Managing Director, and Adjunct Professor in Cinema Studies at Drexel University. He is shy and modest. Email Eric.

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