There are plenty of Japan-related events on in the UK to tide you over until spring truly arrives, with something to suit fans of all aspects of Japanese culture. For foodies there are Yayoi Kusama-inspired afternoon teas, for movie buffs there are classic and modern film screenings aplenty, for art lovers there are exhibitions on ukiyo-e (woodblock prints) and Japanese architecture, and for melomaniacs there is music by the NHK orchestra at one end of the spectrum and taiko drumming and world-renowned Japanese heavy metal band X Japan at the other!
Experience a quintessential British tradition as never before with this afternoon tea with a twist at the Rosewood Hotel London. The Art Afternoon Tea includes a mouth-watering selection of art-inspired pastries designed by the hotel's executive pastry chef that are reminiscent of works by 5 iconic modern artists including visionary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama. Featuring her trademark yellow and black polka dots, you probably won't have much trouble telling which cake is inspired by her work! You can make a reservation for the afternoon tea, which costs £50, in the hotel's elegant Mirror Room with its jewelbox design here. If you want to extend the experience, then there is also an Afternoon Tea and Stay package which combines feasting on these creative culinary masterpieces with a stay in one of their luxurious rooms or suites - make a reservation here.
When? The art tea is served 12:00 noon to 7:00 p.m. Monday to Sunday
Where? 252 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EN
A new ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints) exhibition from one of the best known of all Japanese artists, Hiroshige Utagawa (1797-1858), who is considered one of the last great masters of the genre and whose work had a direct influence on many western artists such as van Gogh, Monet, Cezanne and Whistler.
The exhibition features 21 prints from the series first presented around 1833 that made him famous, depicting views along Japan’s ancient major highway the Tokaido, and is full of fascinating insights into the journey between the Kyoto and Edo (now Tokyo). Tickets cost £4 and can be purchased online or at reception. Concessions cost just £2 and under-19s go in for free!
When? 10:00-17:00 Closed on Mondays
Where? Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Queen Street, Exeter EX4 3RX
Japan Foundation's two-month film season starts in London on 3 February, before touring to 14 further cities around the UK. Presenting films through the prism of “desires, hopes and impulses”, this year's programme promises to not only entertain but also provide a vivid insight into what drives human action. The programme showcases a variety of different locations around Japan, and the films ‘Lady Maiko’ (set in Kyoto and about an aspiring maiko or apprentice geisha) and ‘Tsukiji Wonderland’ (about the Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo) will be of particular interest to anyone thinking of visiting Japan! If you want to find out more about the lineup the details are all online here.
When? 3 February to 29 March 2017
Where? 15 cities around the UK including London, Manchester, Sheffield, Edinburgh, Bristol, Belfast and Birmingham
Japan’s most iconic rock band will hold #XDAY, a special album release concert at London’s Wembley arena, to celebrate the late 2016 release of their highly-anticipated new album - their first new studio album in 20 years. The concert was rescheduled from March 12, 2016 due to guitarist PATA’s sudden illness. For fans of X Japan who already have their tickets the wait must seem unbearable but they are surely looking forward to seeing a fully recovered PATA and the other members back on stage sooner than ever!
Meanwhile, those who have yet to book tickets should get a move on, as they are selling fast! Tickets cost £34.50-57.50 and can be booked online via The SSE Arena Wembley’s website. When?
Doors open 17:00, start at 18:00 Where?
SSE Arena Wembley, London
NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo will perform Toru Takemitsu’s haunting Requiem for Strings (1957) and Gustav Mahler’s passionately melancholic Symphony No.6, conducted by Paarvo Jarvi, who is leading a European tour for the first time since becoming Chief Conductor of the orchestra. The slow, yearning melodies of Takemitsu’s opus will segue into Mahler’s traditional “Tragic” symphony, which draws listeners in with its bleak yet irresistible momentum.
Standard tickets cost £10-£50 or £65 for Premium tickets. When?
19.30-21:15 (no interval)
Where? Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Rd, London SE1 8XX
The unmistakable sound of traditional Taiko drumming is brought to you by the Yamato drummers of Japan. In Yamato Chousensha: The Challengers, the drummers challenge themselves to push themselves to their limits in a staggering display of physical strength, using their entire bodies to produce the thunderous music. Drums weighing up to half a tonne are hit with ferocious skill, as each beat sends out a heart-thumping torrent of vibrations - this high-energy, exhilarating performance not to be missed! Tickets start from £15 with half-price tickets for under 16s and group discounts available. To book, visit The Peacock's website.
When? Tue - Sat at 7.30pm, Sat at 2.30pm, Sun at 2pm and 6.30pm
Where? Peacock Theatre, Portugal Street, London WC2A 2HT
exhibition that shines light on the importance and influence that
railway companies have played in the development of the country, with a
special focus on Osaka and its surrounding Kansai region. Since the
first steam locomotives were imported from the UK to Japan in the late
19th century, railway companies have played a key role in the shaping of
Japan's regions, and the exhibition looks at the involvement of railway
companies in the history and development of Osaka and Kansai, which was
especially remarkable from the onset and continues to help define the
lifestyles of its residents even today. The museum is free to enter, and
makes the perfect day out for families with kids!
When? Museum opening hours 10:00-17:00
Where? Locomotion, the National Railway Museum at Shildon, Industrial Estate, Dale Rd, Shildon DL4 2RE
Film Screening: River of Fireflies 蛍川 at the Embassy of Japan
The Embassy of Japan will hold a screening of River of Fireflies (dir. Eozp Sigawa/ 1987 / 115 min, Japanese language with English subtitles). Based on the Akutagawa Prize-winning novel of the same title, written by Teru Miyamoto, it is set in beautiful scenery in Toyama prefecture in Japan’s Hokuriku region, in the winter of 1962. It sensitively captures the first love of a fourteen-year-old boy, his friendships and hardships and the world of the adults around him through his eyes. The spectacular scene of millions of fireflies dancing above the river brings the film to its close. Book via the Embassy of Japan website.
When? There will be a special talk 18:30-19:00 before the film starts at 19:00.
Where? The Embassy of Japan in the UK, 101 - 104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT
The first major UK exhibition to focus on Japanese domestic architecture from the end of WWII to now, it presents some of the most exciting architectural projects of the last 70 years, many of which have never before been exhibited in the UK. The “single family house” rose to prominence in the context of an urgent need for new housing in the wake of the devastation of WWII. The exhibition considers developments since in residential architecture in the light of important shifts in Japan’s economy, urban landscape, and family structure.
Tickets can be reserved online via the Barbican’s website and are priced at Standard: £14.50, Concessions: £12.00, Students: 14-17: £10.00. When?
Sat–Wed: 10:00–18:00, Thu–Fri: 10:00–21:00
Where? Art Gallery, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS
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Sou Fujimoto Architects, House NA, Tokyo, Japan, 2011. Photo Iwan Baan