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Events - 08.24.2022

“Words Can’t Go There” Screening with Talk & Live Performance

Documentary "Words Can't Go There" poster

08.24.2022 (Wed.)


7:00 PM – 9:00 PM (PDT)


JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles Salon, Level 5



Japanese shakuhachi flute master and subject of the feature length documentary film “Words Can't Go There”, John Kaizan Neptune will perform live before this special screening. Join us on a journey through John's life story as a California surfer who traveled to Japan in the 70's to learn the shakuhachi and became a world-renowned musician, composer and instrument maker in this intimate film directed by his son, David Neptune. David will accompany John in a short concert playing a bamboo drum called “Takeda” of John's invention. A short Q&A will follow the screening.

Film Description

This film is a feature-length documentary exploring the story of California surfer turned Japanese shakuhachi flute master John ‘Kaizan’ Neptune. Directed by John’s son David Neptune and produced by his team of filmmakers in Los Angeles, the film examines what it takes to cross cultural borders and become a master of this traditional art form. John has innovated on the shakuhachi’s design and developed new sounds never heard before with the instrument. His efforts have been praised by most but criticized by some. John has lived in Japan for over 40 years, focusing single-mindedly on the shakuhachi to further delve into the infinite possibilities of sound. But what are the sacrifices involved with becoming a true master?

This story told from David’s perspective will take audiences on an unforgettable journey through personal discoveries, humorous interludes and musical epiphanies.


John Kaizan Neptune

John Kaizan Neptune is widely acknowledged to be among the top masters of the shakuhachi, or Japanese bamboo flute. Well-known in Japan, this California native is also an accomplished jazz artist and composer who has gained respect in both the East and West for his versatile and technically sophisticated melting pot of sounds.

David Neptune

David is a documentary filmmaker and musician living in Los Angeles. Born and raised in Japan, he learned world music from playing percussion with his musician father John Kaizan Neptune. He moved to the US in 2000 and later started directing viral videos for YouTube like What Kind of Asian Are You? and But We’re Speaking Japanese! which gained over 60 million views across platforms.

Read more.

In 2019 he completed his first feature length documentary film Words Can’t Go There about his father and what it means to be an artist on an endless pursuit for perfection. It premiered at Warsaw International Film Festival and went on to win awards including Best Documentary at The Valley Film Festival. David now works as a Story Producer on docuseries such as Street Food on Netflix, Marvel's 616 on Disney +, and Beyond The Spotlight on HBO Max.

Presented by

Japan Foundation Los Angeles logo

Supported by

JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles logo

Related Exhibition

LIFE CYCLES | A Bamboo Exploration with Tanabe Chikuunsai IV

Bamboo Installation in LIFE CYCLES Exhibition by Tanabe Chikuunsai IV  

07.28.2022 (Thu.) – 01.15.2023 (Sun.)


Mon. – Fri. | 11:00 AM – 7:00 PM (PDT)
Sat. – Sun.  | 11:00 AM – 8:00 PM (PDT)


JAPAN HOUSE Gallery, Level 2



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