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Event Report: Japan Matsuri 2012 At Trafalgar Square London

Londoners get a taste of Japanese culture!

On Saturday 6th October, under a blissful (almost) clear blue sky, Trafalgar Square in London played host to Japan Matsuri 2012. 70,000 people were expected to come and go throughout the day and it’s quite possible that number was met. Since the first matsuri festival started in 2009, the event’s popularity has grown year after year spreading the rich and vibrant culture of Japan and gaining new fans. Unquestionably this year was no exception.

The festival consisted of a mixture of traditional and contemporary forms of entertainment including dancing, singing and the playing of musical instruments. Here’s a summery.

The open-air gala began at 11.00 am with a special opening ceremony on the main stage which included the traditional custom of the breaking of a sake barrel. This was followed by Thames Taiko – a Taiko drumming group formed originally for the 2008 Thames Festival – who gave the first live performance of the day by pounding energetically on their drums, sending out a wall of sound to get everybody in the mood for some Japanese fun.

Thames Taiko

Green Chorus

Other performances throughout the day included the Japanese woman’s choir Green Chorus and the ever popular Tsugaru Shamisen player Hibiki joined by his teacher the renowned Akihiro Ichikawa and the wonderful folk and enka singer Akari Mochizuki (aka Alika Machida).

Hibiki also participated in a performance by comedy singing group Frank Chicken whose been around since the 1980’s.

Well-known Japanese J-pop singer Naomi Suzuki (who also played host/MC at the event) took to the stage and sang ‘Our Song’ and ‘Mother’ from her charity CD sold in aid of children who lost their parents in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

There was the Lolita Fashion Show showcased by The Tea Party Club, a karaoke competition, and traditional Japanese dancing by the London Bon Dancers and the children of the London Bunka Yachien performing their Eisa dance. NHK Rajio Taiso (radio exercises), performed at various times throughout the day by three official presenters, Hajime Tago, Risa Kaneko and Arisa Oshimi, was a real crowd pleaser.

NHK Rajio Taiso (radio exercises),

The National Gallery

A second stage was set up (located at the front of the National Gallery) as an arena for various martial art schools, including the Wakaba Kendo Club, Sakura Dojo – Iaido, and the Okinawan Traditional Goju-ryu Karate-do, to demonstrate their skills. A constant crowd of people gathered around making it impossible to get a good view, unless you were one of the lucky ones in the front row; perhaps next year the organisers will consider having the demonstrations take place on a raised-platform instead of having it at eye-level. Nevertheless, there were other things to see and do at the event.

A swarm of people gather around the Trafalgar Square fountain

A crowd gather under Japanese lanterns

Japan Association Fund

Gratitiude from Fukushima

Japanese flag

Throughout the day there was a range of activities for people of all ages to take part in: There was the chance to try calligraphy under the guidance of Yukiko Ayres, an opportunity to learn to play Japanese Taiko drums, and the Manga Wall where people could freely express themselves through their art by drawing their favourite characters or simply write a message of some kind. For example, someone had written the name of the idol group AKB48 in large letters within a heart.

Manga Wall

Manga Wall

Numerous stalls selling mouth-watering food like Sushi, Tokoyaki and Wagu Cup Bento, and gifts/souvenirs/ such as decorative bowl sets lined the inner circumference of the famous London Landmark.

Some of the many stalls selling Japanese food

Yoshino chefs

Wagu Cup Bento

Japanese bowls

Japanese dolls

Cute Japanese gifts

Traditional Japanese dancers

To close the event, the London Taiko Drummers gave a rousing performance as the famous Nelson’s Column was lit up in red and pale blue.

Japan Matsuri 2012 proved to be another great success. All those that were involved should feel very proud of their achievements.

Nelson’s Column during closing performance

Related Posts:

Japan Matsuri 2012 Trafalgar Square London

The Japan Matsuri 2011 Is Coming To London!

Event: Okinawa Day 2011 London – Music, Dance, Karate, Food & Drinks, Arts & Crafts, Fashion

Tsugaru-shamisen, Minyo, and Enka Dinner Concert At So Restaurant London

 

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