News Sushi: Morsels of News from Japan and Beyond #30

It is Friday and that means it is time for the World Famous, soon to be Intergalactic Famous, News Sushi from our very own, Hamish Downie. He brings us a decidedly different slant on Pop Culture as viewed through the lens of a non-native living in Japan. Thank you Hamish for your insights.


I wonder what you are doing while you are reading this? As I do my final editing for this issue, I’m thinking about lunch (when am I not?)


We’ve got an incredible issue for you this week – we have an interview with Actress Qyoko Kudo, and we feature the work of Hudson Phillips, Marimo Records, and so much more!

Let’s get started!

NEWS SUSHI watches and listens:

A visual feast to start with. This is from Marimo Records, who I worked with on a couple of projects, namely – “An American Piano”, “Silent Hill: Stolen Heart” and “Pieces of 8”. Here’s a video that features Director Yoshihiro Enatsu, his brother Masaaki Enatsu, and on camera we have Toshikazu Kaneto and Hiroshi Kurosawa:

For more info:


NEWS SUSHI interviews… Qyoko Kudo

Qyoko Kudo is a bilingual Japanese actress who is known to international audiences for her roles in “Babel” and “The Wolverine”. She also appeared in my multi award-winning shorts “An American Piano” and “Silence”, and will appear in my upcoming feature film, “Kodokushi”. Her latest film, “Suffering of Ninko” is out on VOD and DVD/Blue Ray now. I recently got the pleasure to interview her on her background in the arts, “The Wolverine” and more!

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#釜山国際映画祭 #biff での #仁光の受難 上映を終えました。たくさんの方に観に来ていただき、上映後のQ&Aでは次々と質問いただきました。ご来場の皆さんとも色々とお話ができて、何よりうれしかった!夜は世界中のフィルムメーカーや役者の方々とみっちり話ができ、井の中の蛙を痛感。広い世界へ誘うような話題をシェアしてくれた皆さん、その機会をくださった釜山国際映画祭に感謝しました。감사합니다! 会場では @edmundyeo エドモンド・ヨウ監督と遭遇!次回作の構想等々やあれやこれや話し込んだのに、一緒に写真撮るの忘れました>_<今月末に #東京国際映画祭2016 で来日するとのことで、また再会を楽しみにしたいと思います。 #sufferingofninko

A post shared by Qyoko Kudo 🌙 (@qyokokudo) on

TGG: I’ve had the pleasure of working with the actress Qyoko Kudo on three projects now; the multi award-winning shorts, “An American Piano” & “Silence”, and now, we are working together again on my debut feature film, “Kodokushi”. But, for the readers, could you please introduce yourself?

QK: I’m grateful to be invited to your column. Thank you, Hamish! I’m a film and stage actor based in Tokyo, Japan. I started to learn about acting at the United Performers’ Studio in Tokyo, which was established by Yoko Narahashi, after I made a major life move in 2004. Leading the actors’ striving life, I was very lucky to meet and work with such the talented creators, not only from Japan but also from abroad, such as you, Hamish! I’ve been in various films from independent sci-fi to Hollywood human drama. I’m eager to find a new door for my expression.

TGG: I understand you come from a very artistic family. What inspired you to get into acting?

QK: My father was an art lover who was also a generous giver. He used to give us many opportunities to see the Arts, probably, to cherish life, such as concerts, art galleries, live performances, authentic restaurants, skiing, skating, and especially to the mountains that he loved. Only, he didn’t know that there was a future artist in the family. My mother started to learn Japanese and Chinese calligraphy at the school where my siblings and I used to go when we were in elementary school. It didn’t take long before she started to devote her life to it. As you know, how there is sometimes and enormous gap between how an artist’s work looks and the way they see it in their creation in their mind. She seemed to devote her soul to her art while her family egocentrically wanted a caring housewife and mother. Though, my siblings and I could grow up independently at an earlier stage, I was still longing to get something from her that she didn’t have in her nature to give; without noticing I was the one who had my mother’s gene at most! I didn’t even notice I had an artistic desire in the deep bottom of my dark well – that was hidden for fear of becoming a reason of frequent arguments of my parents. But just as my mother couldn’t help but follow her heart, I tried to open the gate to be an actor when I found the desire. Now, I understand her and respect her artistic character – a woman who continues to make persistent effort at the age of 70! (But please return your driver’s license for your and others’ safety, mom!)

TGG: I can see the Arts is truly in your blood! Each time we’ve worked together, it’s been an absolute pleasure to watch you perform. What is your method for creating such memorable performances?

QK: Oh, thank you, Hamish! I’m flattered, I had various types of acting training and read relevant books, such as Meisner’s, Stanislavski’s, Stella Adler’s, Method, Alexander Technique, complex of those techniques, Noh, etc. I try to keep on leaning to discover more. But whatever I learn, I try to put them all behind me once I’m on set so that I can live fully as the role in the story.

TGG: Ben and Keith would kill me if I didn’t ask this… could you tell us what it was like to work on “The Wolverine” (a.k.a “Wolverine: Samurai”)?

QK: It was a hilarious experience to join the film. Witnessing Hugh Jackman, Hiroyuki Sanada [Ringu, The Railyway Men, TV’s Helix] and lots of great actors transforming into their roles of The Wolverine, Shingen and others while you blink; and watching their raw performances just in front of you was what I definitely wanted to capture with my indelible brain camera (only just if I was not playing). And it was exciting that I was also the one to interact organically as an actor with them all.

It was also one of my great experiences at the shoot to learn how Hiroyuki Sanada-san [who played Qyoko’s Husband in the film] tried his best to help other actors both on and off the set; not only Japanese actors but also those actors who played a Japanese role for the improvement of their position in the world’s film industry. He gave me lots of effective advice that I hadn’t known of or noticed before. The fabulously successful Sanada-san’s cordial and courteous attitude affected me deeply. And it made me swear to myself to come back to these types film shoots again and again.

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映画『仁光の受難』、たくさんのお客様にご観賞いただき、東京での上映を終了いたしました。 ご来場、ご観賞くださった皆様、誠にありがとうございました! 複数回観にきてくださったリピーターさんが何人もいらっしゃったり、お客様がSNSでご紹介くださったことで新たなお客様に繋がったりと、皆様で『仁光の受難』の上映を盛り上げてくださったことにも心より感謝しています。 これから地方上映が始まります。 またたくさんのお客様に観ていただけますように🌟 今後とも『仁光の受難』をどうぞよろしくお願いいたします。

A post shared by Qyoko Kudo 🌙 (@qyokokudo) on

TGG: Your latest film is a really unique work of cinema. Could you tell us about the film and your role in the film?

QK: Thank you for mentioning “Suffering of Ninko”, Hamish! This film directed by Norihiro Niwatsukino is a Japanese spectre or horror comic story about a handsome young diligent Buddhist monk in Edo period who can not avoid predicament everywhere he goes. This film went to those film festival of Vancouver, Busan, Tokyo FilMex, Rotterdam, etc. and got favorable responses. Harmony made of the complex of Ukiyoe (Japanese classical woodblock prints and paintings), mandala, actual acting, dancing together with Japanese and western classical music. Its streaming on internet, DVD sell are now on sale in Japan, North America, France and United Kingdom.

SUFFERING OF NINKO – International Trailer from Norihiro NIWATSUKINO on Vimeo.

Support TGGeeks buy clicking the widgets to the right and below! links DVD: Streaming:

TGG: While making our film “Kodokushi”, I learned that you have studied martial arts. Could you tell us a little about that?

QK: Yes, I enjoy Aikido, one of Japanese modern marshal arts developed by Morihei Ueshiba. According to Wikipedia, “Aikido is often translated as ‘the way of unifying (with) life energy’ or as ‘the way of harmonious spirit. I think Aikido has certain technical and spiritual aspects in common with acting. And being an Aikido practitioner is one of the greatest acting and life lessons, I believe.

TGG: Finally, how can we support your work? (where can we buy your films, where can we follow you on social media etc)

QK: Our “An American Piano” directed by Paul Leeming, which you wrote the script, is now available as donation-ware:

It’s also available through Amazon Video (if you’re country has it).

“Suffering of Ninko” has been released by streaming, buying its DVD through internet / your resignal DVD stores or please find it at video rental shops.

Please find me on SNS:
And here

TGG: Thank you so much Qyoko-san for agreeing to be interviewed. I’m sure that we’ll be following what you’re doing in the future.

QK: Thank you very much, Hamish, for this opportunity! I am pretty much looking forward to being at your additional shoot!

NEWS SUSHI… UPDATE on “Kodokushi”

As Qyoko-san mentioned, we are going back and shooting some additional scenes for my debut feature film, “Kodokushi”. Shooting a feature in 4 days is indeed crazy, and when we got to the editing room, we realised that there were some things that we needed to add to help the film.

As a Director, I’ve really only done Music Videos up until this point, and I can see now where that has hurt the film. In music videos, you really only need the key moments of the story, and when you edit it together, it’s all glued together by the song. So, what I’m doing is going back and filming all those scenes in-between the major scenes – the ones that build up to the major moments and glue the film together.

Wish us luck!


NEWS SUSHI… shorts

Our Solar System is a Vortex! This video will blow your mind… unless you’ve already seen it!

The City of Atlantis Discovered?

Not only did the lost city of Atlantis actually exist, but its true location has been hiding in plain sight for thousands of years, completely unnoticed, as we’ve been looking in all the wrong places…

Did you know about Disneyland in Nara, Japan?

Defunctland goes to Japan to discuss the history of the eventually abandoned Disneyland knock-off, Nara Dreamland!

A 58 and 55 years old Japanese female couple has got the first samesex partnership in Nakano, Tokyo. They have been together for 25 years.
“We thought the first couple should be younger, but we wanted people know there are same-sex couples next to you (when you go shopping etc), middle age couple like us.”

It’s wonderful that that there are role models for the younger generation of Japanese for their future.

Japanese Only – sorry Link:

A whole album for just US$2? That’s crazy talk!

Thea Hilberts – “Means to Function” is available now on patreon for the crazy, low, low price of $2! Go and get it!

Listen to some samples:

This Australian singer is best known for vocal appearences in trance music. Inspired by punk bands to write music & lyrics as a teenager, starting some singer/songwriter material, – then realising the potential of unique qualities in her vocal style – & falling into trance/EDM quite by accident when seeking out vocal work. Born into a family of musicians, it was inevitable that music was destined. At just the start of a career, now with dance vocals underneath her, there is an exciting journey ahead.

Embracing Sentimentality…

In case you don’t know Hudson Phillips, here is his short film, “Rooney’s World” which combines live action with animation:

As September is Suicide prevention/awareness month, this is a big hug from me –


What depression commercials never talk about…

Read the whole thread!

And finally…. the Shirtless Violinist –

For more on mental health, please check out my best friend’s OP-ED on this very website:

Well, it’s that time again… it’s time for lunch! Hope you are well, wherever you are.


And one more hug.


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