Event Review: Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk at the V&A

September 6, 2020 Leave a comment

Until Sunday 25th October 2020

(left to right) kimono bought by Freddy Mercury whilst on tour in Japan, Madonna outfit by Jean-Paul Gautier , Bjork outfit by Alexander McQueen

Corona virus information:

Book ahead to get a time slot and do get there at least 15 – 20 minutes beforehand because of the queues to get into the museum. Entry is via the Sackler Courtyard.

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Book Review: Yasuke: The True Story of the Legendary African Samurai

The remarkable life of history’s first foreign-born samurai, and his astonishing journey from Northeast Africa to the heights of Japanese society.

YasukeA quite astonishing and meticulously researched biography which isn’t written in an academic style yet is suitable for both the general reader and history buff. Thoroughly engaging it reads like a novel and really does bring Yasuke’s story to life in a way that a purely academic tome could not have done.

In the pre-amble the narrative briefly touches on the aftermath of Akechi Mitsuhide’s overthrow of his liege lord Oda Nobunaga at Honnō-ji Temple in Kyōto and, as one of Nobunaga’s loyal vassals, Yasuke’s involvement. The story, broken down into three sections; ‘Warrior’, ‘Samurai’, and ‘Legend’, then turns in ‘Warrior’ to the arrival in Japan in 1579 Read more…

Book Review: A Beginners Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations

A Beginners Guide to Japan Pico IyerA particularly idiosyncratic book this may not suit the tastes of some but is certainly one which provokes.

There are many and often inexperienced travellers to Japan who seem to think they understand the country after just one visit. The author and commentator Pico Iyer, who has lived in Japan for more than thirty-two years, seems to ‘beg to differ’. In this enjoyable romp, through a plethora of very varied perspectives from other commentators, philosophers and writers and also from his own experience during his time there, Iyer seems to assert that even after thirty-two years he no more understands Read more…

January 2020 Tea Event Minamoto Kitchoan London

January 24, 2020 Leave a comment

Sample some of the best high quality Japanese teas available in the UK!

Japanese teaVenue: Minamoto Kitchoan 44 Piccadilly, London

Date: 25th January 2020

Time: 14.00– 17.00 (Please just pop in anytime during the event hours)

Admission: FREE Read more…

Book Review: Tokyo Stories: A Japanese Cookbook

January 7, 2020 1 comment

Tokyo Stories is a journey through the boulevards and backstreets of Tokyo via recipes both iconic and unexpected!

Tokyo Stories coverThough having published other books (his humorous biographical essays ‘Tune in Tokyo: The Gaijin Dairies’, his own Brixton restaurant cookbook ‘Nanban: Japanese Soul Food’, and other cookbooks of classic and modern Japanese recipes; ‘Vegan JapanEasy’ and ‘JapanEasy’) Tim Anderson first began to impact on the public consciousness in the UK with his appearance on, and winning of, ‘Masterchef’ in 2011. Since then he has gone on to work as a freelance chef, food writer and consultant and is a regular contributor on Jamie Oliver’s Food Tube, the Kitchen Cabinet on Radio 4, and has appeared on various TV programmes such as Read more…

Review: 2019 Kabuki Kaomise – the National Theatre of Japan and the Shinbashi Enbujo

December 6, 2019 Leave a comment

PART TWO

Kabuki Theatre flyersThe November 2019 performance at the National Theatre of Japan was ‘Koko no Yushi Musume Kagekiyo: Hyuga-Jima’ (孤高勇士嬢景清: (四幕五場) 日向嶋. A Brave and Solitary Warrior Kagekiyo and his Daughter. 4th Act 5th Scene: At Hyuga Island). It was adapted from two Bunraku ‘Kagekiyo pieces’, the puppet plays ‘Daibutsuden Bandai no Ishizuen’ (The Eternal Foundation Stone of the Great Buddha Hall at Todaiji – 大仏殿万代石楚) by Nishizawa Ippu and a later re-working of this called Read more…

Review: November 2019 – the Festive Annual Kabuki Kaomise

December 5, 2019 1 comment

PART ONE

Kabuki theatre 2The start of the Kabuki season, around November each year, is marked by what is referred to as the Kaomise (lit. face showing) performances. This is the time when the pre-eminent actors are seen on stage during performances intended to show off their skills. It has been a very important event in the Kabuki calendar in Edo, Osaka and Kyoto during and since the Read more…

October 2019 Tea Tasting Event

October 25, 2019 Leave a comment

Sample some of the best high quality Japanese teas available in the UK!

Japanese teaVenue: Minamoto Kitchoan 44 Piccadilly, London

Date: 26th October 2019

Time: 14.00– 18.30

Admission: FREE Read more…

Exhibition Review: ‘Sakubei Yamamoto and the Rich Seams of Japan’s Coal Mining History’

October 8, 2019 Leave a comment

4th Oct – 15th November 2019 at the Japanese Embassy in London

yamamoto sakubeiIt was Monday 30th July 1973 when, just before 620 am, Colin Burton (a maternal uncle), who had moved from Bolsover Colliery to work at Markham Colliery at Stavely in Derbyshire, stepped off the pit cage having had to ascend back to the surface during the early part of the shift. As he moved away twenty-nine fellow coal miners boarded the double decker pit cage to begin the journey down the shaft to join their shift mates on Read more…

The Taste of Chūbu

September 28, 2019 1 comment

Where ancient and modern coexist!

GO CHUCUChubu, the most central region of the main island of Honshū (Chūbu means central), is made up of nine prefectures; Aichi, Fukui, Gifu, Ishikawa, Nagano, Niigata, Shizuoka, Toyama and Yamanashi. At the region’s centre lie the Japanese Alps, made up by the Northern Hida, the central Kiso and the southern Akaishi mountains.

The region offers an extensive range of attractions to visitors, both domestic and foreign including gardens, castles and temples; the tradition and culture of geisha, traditional costume, samurai, festivals, events and fireworks; wellness through Read more…

August 2019 Tea Tasting Event

August 30, 2019 Leave a comment

Sample some of the best high quality Japanese teas available in the UK!

Japanese teaVenue: Minamoto Kitchoan 44 Piccadilly, London

Date: 31st August 2019

Time: 14.00– 17.00

Admission: FREE Read more…

Review: ‘Manga マンガ’at the British Museum 23 May – 26 August 2019

July 28, 2019 2 comments

Dedicated to the victims of the Kyoto Animation fire in Uji City!

Noda Satoru, Golden Kamuy, 2014 onwards © Satoru Noda SHUEISHABelonging to Kōzan-ji temple in Kyōto the Japanese National Treasures the eight ‘Scrolls of Frolicking Animals’ and the ‘Scrolls of Frolicking Animals and Humans’ called ‘Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga’ (animal-person caricatures) were painted between the 12th and 13th centuries by, it is thought, the artist-monk Toba Sōjō. They are credited by many as the earliest form of manga.

Fast forward nearly a thousand years and the Citi Exhibition ‘Manga マンガ’ at the British Museum (supported by CITI with logistics partner IAGCargo) is touted as the biggest Read more…

Book Review: Midnight in Broad Daylight

A Japanese American Family Caught Between Two Worlds!

Midnight in Broad Daylight CoverThough the title of this book is taken from Sankichi Tōge’s poem about the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima this book isn’t actually all about that event; one chapter late on in the book is dedicated to the event with its post traumatic effects on the populace, and the family in particular, covered in subsequent chapters. It is quite frankly an astonishing and incredibly moving account of one Japanese-American family’s experience of immigrant status in the USA and the effect of the Great Depression, racism, movements of various members of the family back and forth between Japan and the USA in the lead up to the Second World War, the consequences for the various members of the family in situ in both countries during Read more…

Book Review: The Forty-Seven Rōnin: The Vendetta in History

John A. Tucker presents the first comprehensive historical study of one of the most famous events in Japanese history.

The 47 Ronin the Vendetta in History coverPublished in February 2018 this seminal work about the Forty-Seven Rōnin, one of the most famous historical tales in Japan, is probably one of the most accessible academic studies in the English language. It is very well laid out, the structure eminently logical, the referencing structure precise and the bibliography pleasantly well-stocked. Unsurprisingly, whilst Tucker does mention less reliable sources, he does not dwell on the conjectural discrepancies that arise from these, his suppositions being based on his analysis of empirical texts. There are a few black and white illustrations ranging from location and portrait photographs through to reproductions of illustrations both Read more…

Review: Brave Blossoms – The History of Rugby in Japan

February 2, 2019 4 comments

As with any activity in Japan once it gains the Imperial seal of approval, formally or implied, it goes from strength to strength!

Japan Rugby replica home jersey canteburyNot having been a rugby fan and only really actively interested in the two larger tournaments, the Six Nations and the World Cup, and the more famous National sides from Europe, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, it came as something of a pleasant shock whilst on a visit to Japan in September 2015 when, with very little warning, the news media in Japan was suddenly flooded with images of their National Rugby Team dealing out a shock 34-32 defeat to South Africa’s Springboks in Brighton at the 2015 Rugby World Cup which was Read more…

Review: January 2019 New Year Kabuki: Part Two – Asakusa Kokaido Public Hall and the Kabukiza

February 2, 2019 2 comments

Part two of a two part review!

Kabuki 2019 reviewAsakusa Kokaidō Public Hall Shinshun New Year Kabuki

The matinee kicked off with an Otoshidama – Nenshi Goaisatsu, a special kōjō (ceremony), for new year greetings during which one of the company appears on stage, on this occasion Onoe Matsuya, dressed in formal Edo era attire during which he described some of the conventions of Kabuki, highlights to watch out for in the upcoming performances and which are his favourite local hang outs.

…and of course the ever popular famous thief Ishikawa Goemon made his appearance with the first performance of the matinee in the very entertaining Edo style dance drama ‘Modorikago Iro ni Aikata’ (The Returning Palanquin). The two palanquin bearers, Yoshirō (Nakamura Tanenosuke), the chic one who is Read more…

Review: January 2019 New Year Kabuki: Part One – Shinbashi Enbujo and the National Theatre of Japan

January 26, 2019 3 comments

Part one of a two-part review.

Shinbashi Enbujo

new year kabuki at the shinbashi enbujo january 2019 mini posterThe first performance of the afternoon was ‘Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura’, (Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees), one of the three most popular plays of the Kabuki repertoire (which includes ‘Sugawara and the Secrets of Calligraphy’, and ‘Chūshingura: The Treasury of Loyal Retainers’). The particular act of the play performed was ‘Torii Mae’, (Before the Gate of the Fushimi Inari Shrine). This part of the play focuses on the story of how Shizuka Gozen (Otani Hiromatsu) the lover of Minamoto Yoshitsune (Otani Tomaemon) who is following Yoshitsune on his flight from his older brother Yoritomo, is restrained in her attempts to follow Yoshitsune. To restrain his lover Shizuka Yoshitsune enlists the help of his retainer Satō Tadanobu (Nakamura Shidō) who is in fact not the real Tadanobu but is indeed a magical fox. As a fairly standard and very popular act from Read more…

January 2019 Tea Tasting Event

January 23, 2019 Leave a comment

Sample some of the best high quality Japanese teas available in the UK!

Japanese teaVenue: Minamoto Kitchoan 44 Piccadilly, London

Date: 26th Janusary 2019

Time: 14.00– 18.30

Admission: FREE Read more…

Review: Tokyo Year End Kabuki – December 2018

January 18, 2019 4 comments

Two reviews in one.

national theatre december 2018 mini poster resizeThere were two main Tōkyō theatres holding end of year performances in December 2018. The National Theatre of Japan in Hanzōmon and the Kabukiza in Higashi Ginza, and a lucky attendance on the final auspicious day or senshūraku (lit. music of a thousand autumns, an old entertainment industry term for the final day of a performance run) at the Kabukiza andas a result was a full house.

The December 2018 Kabuki at the National Theatre of Japan was the Tōshi Kyōgen (full length play) Zoho Futatsu Domoe (The New and Improved Story of the Read more…