Japan Events in the UK Spring 2018

Saga Doll Festival ©Saga Prefecture

Get the spring off to a flying start by attending one of these great Japan-related events in the UK this March and April.

As usual we have a bumper selection of Japan-related events in the UK for you to choose from this season. Browse our list and take your pick from an authentic Hina-matsuri (dolls’/girls’ day festival) in Glasgow, a talk on an English botanist who 'saved' Japanese cherry blossoms, and cookery classes at the Japan Centre.

That's not all - there's also touring Japan-inspired theatre for kids, harpsichord and piano performances by Japanese musicians, and art exhibitions of lacquerware and photographs of Tokyo. We told you it was a bumper selection!

The 17th Hina Matsuri 2018 - 3 March 2018, Glasgow

Hina Doll Festival
Hina Matsuri, also called Girls’ Day or Dolls’ Day, is a Japanese spring festival celebrating girl children. Traditional decorations are put out, shiro-zake (sake made from fermented rice) is drunk, and special foods such as chirashi-zushi (a bed of flavoured sushi rice topped with colourful fresh seafood and vegetables), hina-arare (soy or sugar flavoured rice crackers), and ushiojiru (salt-based clam shell soup) are eaten.

The key decoration is hina-ningyo (Hina dolls), a set of beautiful and intricate dolls arranged on red-carpeted stairs representing the ancient court of Japan, including the Emperor, Empress, attendants, musicians, possessions, and so on. Many Japanese families have a hina-ningyo set that is kept carefully and handed down from generation to generation.

Get a taste of how it feels to celebrate the Hina Matsuri in Japan at this local festival for all, organised by Japanese Matsuri for Glasgow, a recognised Scottish charity (SC034172), with a grant from Lottery Fund Awards for All Scotland  and sponsorship from Ichiban Noodle Bar.

1pm to 2.30pm: Japan Experience corner where visitors can try origami, write their names in Japanese alphabets, enjoy pictures from fairy tales, sample Japanese sweets, and wrap goods with traditional furoshiki cloth

2.30pm to 3.30pm: Performance corner with Taiko drumming and Japanese songs. Find out more here.

When? 1pm-3:30pm, 3 March
Where? Kibble Palace, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, 730 Great Western Road, Glasgow G12 OUE
How much? The event is free to attend and all are welcome.

The Little Mochi Man, a Play for 4-7 Year Olds - January-May 2018, London

The Little Mochi Man

Join The Little Mochi Man on his adventures as he travels from the snowy mountains of Hokkaido in northern Japan, to the hustle and bustle of Tokyo. Inspired by the traditions of Shogatsu (Japanese New Year celebrations), and using origami puppets, animations and especially-composed music, this is the perfect introduction to Japan for young children and their families.

The play is performed by CBeebies and CBBC regulars Haruka Kuroda and Natsumi Kuroda and written and directed by award-winning children’s theatre director Vicky Ireland, with music by Julian Butler and design by Mila Sanders. It is produced by A Thousand Cranes, a theatre company founded in 2006 to bring the many fascinating stories and cultures of Japan to UK audiences, in association with artsdepot, and is supported by funding from Arts Council England.
When? 28 January-30 May 2018
Where? The play is touring around London and many regional cities. For a list of venues, including London, Bath, Lincoln, Cambridge, and Salisbury, see here.
How much? Each venue will have its own ticket pricing. For more information, see A Thousand Cranes’ website here.

Genta Ishizuka: Membrane - 21 February-22 March 2018, London

Genta Ishizuka Membrane
Comprising twenty-one works, this is the first European exhibition of lacquer artworks by Japanese artist, Genta Ishizuka. Ishizuka’s work has received international recognition and awards, and is included in the permanent collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Minneapolis Institute of Art in the USA.

Born in Kyoto in 1982, Ishizuka holds qualifications in art and urushi lacquering, and previously spent time in London in 2006 as part of an exchange program at the Royal College of Art, London. He currently lives and works in his hometown of Kyoto. Speaking about the meaning behind the title of his exhibition, Ishizuka explains:
I believe “membrane” is a word that is connected to both my production method that utilizes elastic cloth, as well as the sense of envelopment given by applying the urushi, in the way it covers the whole work like a skin. This word that is used with animals, plants and other organisms also has an affinity with the organic material of urushi, and can mean a kind of skin, connoting physicality.

The catalogue accompanying the exhibition will include an essay by Rupert Faulkner, Senior Curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where some of Ishizuka’s works are on permanent display. Find out more here.

When? Erskine, Hall & Coe, 15 Royal Arcade, 28 Old Bond Street, London W1S 4SP
Where? 10:00-18:00 Tuesday-Saturday, 21 February-22 March 2018
How much? Admission FREE 

Cookery Classes at the Japan Centre from 15th March 2018
Toyama Bay sushi
The Japan Centre will be holding Japanese cookery classes for various popular and traditional Japanese dishes this spring, starting from 15 March, 2018. Come along and learn to make your favourite Japanese dish, whether it is sushi, okonomiyaki (savoury pancakes), or a full-on work-of-art Japanese bento (boxed lunch) sure to impress anyone to whom you show it!

Sushi Party Masterclass

6pm-8pm, Wednesday 14 March, 2018

Vegetarian Sushi Masterclass

6pm-8pm, Wednesday 28 March, 2018

Japanese Bento Workshop

6pm-8pm, Wednesday 18 April, 2018

Okonomiyaki Masterclass

6pm-8pm, Wednesday 25 April, 2018

Tokyo 東京‐Ordinary people in Tokyo streets - 15-28 March 2018, London

Mt. Fuji and Tokyo Night View ©Y.Shimizu
After great success in venues in France, this photography exhibition by Gerard Touren is finally coming to Sway Gallery London. The exhibition will show a selection of Touren’s photographs of Tokyo, with a double selection that puts the emphasis on both the subject and the technical quality of the image. Speaking about his experience of shooting the images featured in the exhibition, the Paris-based photographer reflects: 
In the streets of Tokyo, I did my best to engage with a population so different from all that I knew until then, and to spontaneously overcome the potential distance between me and my subjects, without compromising my quest for the “unusual” and “light” in my images. I did not fully manage to ‘erase’ this distance, as the respect of rules and the “other” prevail above all else for Tokyoites. Every single one of them, while moving in an incredibly conformed flow, appear like a solitary fragment of an expanding whole in constant motion, ignoring a confusing mix of lighting, audible announcements and flashing signs... hardly noticing the camera of a lost and unlikely westerner.
When? 11am-7pm Monday-Friday (Saturday and Sunday by appointment only)
Where? Sway Gallery, 70-72 Old Street, EC1V 9AN, London
How much? FREE entrance

An Evening with Kay Ueyama - 20 March 2018, London

Kay Ueyama

This evening performance will mark the UK debut of prize-winning professional harpsichordist Kay Ueyama, who will perform a program consisting of works by both classical and Japanese composers.

Kay will perform two Japanese pieces, by Kozaburo Y. Hirai (1910-2002) and Kiyoshi Nobitoki (1887-1965), the latter of which is based on an old popular folk song from Japan's northern Tohoku region, as well as her own arrangement of the famous traditional Japanese song, Sakura (Cherry Blossom). The pieces by Hirai and Nobitoki have not been played in the UK before.

Ueyama was born in London and grew up in Tokyo but has trained in the USA, Amsterdam and Paris and has won prizes in Italy and Japan. As well as teaching atuniversities in Japan, she is also active as a soloist and chamber musician both in Japan and abroad. The event is supported by the Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation in collaboration with Cambridge Early Music and their Chair, Dame Mary Archer. Find out more about the evening and book tickets here.

When? 20 March 2018, 6:30 Reception, 7:30pm Recital
Where? Asia House, 63 New Cavendish Street, London, W1G 7LP
How much? General admission £20, Joint tickets £30, Asia House Arts Members £10

‘Cherry’ Ingram: the English Saviour of Japan’s Cherry Blossoms with Naoko Abe - 16 April 2018

Cherry blossoms and a white-eyed bird ©Yasufumi Nishi

Collingwood Ingram (1880-1981) was a self-taught English botanist whose passion for the Japanese cherry blossom saved many unique and rare varieties of this iconic flower from extinction. In this lecture, Naoko Abe will talk about Ingram’s first sojourn in Japan in 1902 and his historic speech in Tokyo in 1926 exhorting Japanese royalty and industry leaders to save the dying blossoms at a time of rapid modernization and industrialization.

Naoko Abe is a former staff writer for the Mainichi Shimbun, one’s of Japan’s most influential newspapers. Her most recent non-fiction book, Cherry Ingram: the English Saviour of Japan’s Cherry Blossoms, won the prestigious Nihon Essayist Club Award in 2016. She is currently writing an English version of the book, to be published in February 2019.

When? 6:45pm, 6 April, 2018
Where? The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way 

Reiko Fujisawa - Piano Recital - 20 April, 6 & 14 May 2018

Reiko Fujisawa

Japanese pianist Reiko Fujisawa will perform at various venues across the UK. Her recitals will feature music by leading British and Japanese composers, Thomas Adès and Toru Takemitsu. Find out more about Reiko Fujisawa here.

Hebden Bridge Piano Festival

The Town Hall, St. George's Street, Hebden Bridge, HX7 7BY
20 April 2018
Find out more at: www.hebdenbridgepianofestival.com/
Admission TBC 

Reiko Fujisawa (piano) and the Carducci String Quartet

6 May 2018, 6.30pm
King's Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9AG
Find out more at: www.kingsplace.co.uk/
Tickets: £29.50, £14.50, £9.50

Goldberg Variations - Reiko Fujisawa (piano)

14 May 2018, 7.45pm
Purcell Room, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
Find out more at: www.reikofujisawa.com/
Admission TBC

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