Japanese pop culture in spotlight at New People

There’s more to Japanese pop culture than the cute and quirky Hello Kitty. Saturday’s second annual J-Pop Summit Festival in San Francisco’s Japantown showcases some elements — anime, gaming and sake — that might be less familiar to mainstream audiences.

Sponsored by New People — a retail complex offering Japanese fashion, films and art — the event starts at 11 a.m. with a traditional Kagami-wari, or breaking of a celebratory sake barrel.

“J-Pop Summit Fest is designed to be an example of the artistic freedom and diversity of pop culture in terms of its openness and appreciation to foreign cultures and cultural exchange,” says Seiji Horibuchi, founder of New People. “It is an ideal blending of Western and Asian pop sensibilities and offers something for everyone.”

Among Saturday’s activities are art displays, musical performances, film premieres, fashion shows, video game demos and lots of Japanese cuisine.

Mori Chack, a graphic designer internationally known for his character Gloomy Bear — a pink Hello Kitty-like teddy bear often shown blood-stained and attacking humans — will talk about his work in a panel discussion and will sign limited-edition Gloomy Bear shirts.

Fresh from Burning Man, Osaka, Japan-based artist Ken Hamazaki opens his exhibit “Grateful Red,” a series of paintings inspired by the Grateful Dead, with an avant-garde performance-art piece called “Red Tea Ceremony — You Are God” at New People’s Superfrog Gallery.

“His ceremony is a surreal presentation that is mesmerizing to watch and demonstrates the pinnacle of Japanese Zen, but reinterprets it for a modern audience,” Horibuchi says.

Hamazaki — whose shaved head, red body paint and vivid crimson costumes have earned him the title “The Red Man” in Osaka’s Minami Senba district — will perform his art of “teeth making” at 1 p.m. in Japantown’s Buchanan Mall.

Also, the festival features pioneering Bay Area graffiti artist Estria, who will create four original canvases to be auctioned to the highest bidders.

shaughey@sfexaminer.com

IF YOU GO

J-Pop Summit Festival

Where: New People, 1460 Post St., San Francisco 

When: 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday

Admission: Free

Contact: (415) 525-8630, www.newpeopleworld.com/festival

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