Japan-related events in London

There are quite a few Japan-related events coming up in London and, whilst I will of course be writing about them after I attend, I thought it might be a good idea to mention a few in advance in case you want to go.

From Sunday 4th – Sunday 18th September, a play called Halcyon Days is on at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith.

Halcyon Days, by renowned Japanese playwright and director Shoji Kokami, receives its English language premiere with this production at Riverside Studios. Also directed by Shoji Kokami, the text is translated by Brooklyn based, Tokyo born writer, director and performer Aya Ogawa.

Examining the cult popularity of suicide websites in contemporary Japanese culture, the play looks at a decade where world conflicts are sensationally streamed on twenty-four hour rolling news channels using terms like ‘collateral damage’ and ‘human shields’. Even terrorist organisations boast about their achievements on YouTube, and chronic depression is catered for by the increase of ‘informative’ suicide websites. Are people becoming more jaded with their real existence? Has life lost sanctity and meaning?

Halcyon Days is a dark comedy that follows the story of three people and one ghost who meet on a suicide website. Will they become another statistic in an increasingly worrying trend or, beneath the will to die, can they find in each other a reason to survive.

Well, apart from the ghost … he’s already dead.

(Image: Halcyon Days)

Thursday 8th September sees the opening of the ICN gallery with the exhibition OHAKO. They’re also holding a tea workshop called “Time for Tea” on Friday 9th September. OHAKO will be showing until Wednesday 19th October.

OHAKO(十八番)in Japanese means one’s best technique and skill. Using traditional Japanese tea boxes from Shizuoka, Japan – which are also pronounced as OHAKO (茶箱) – each participating artist will express inside an entrusted tea box their best skill, one’s “ohako” enclosed in an “ohako”.

(Ryo Arai. Image: ICN gallery)

This week, 6th – 10th September, TeZukA will be showing at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

Visionary Japanese manga artist and animator Osamu Tezuka provides the inspiration for internationally renowned choreographer and Sadler’s Wells Associate Artist Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui’s brand new work – TeZukA.

Working with an international cast of 10 performers including Daniel Proietto (AfterLight) and long time collaborator Damien Jalet (Babel (words)), three musicians and a calligrapher, Cherkaoui explores Tezuka’s fascinating world – a blend of tradition, science fiction and contemporary reality. Two of Tezuka’s manga stories which are well known in Japanese popular culture – Astro Boy and Buddha – have particularly captured Cherkaoui’s imagination in creating this new work.

TeZukA will feature a specially commissioned score from award-winning composer Nitin Sawhney with lighting and visual design by Willy Cessa and costumes by fashion designer Sasa Kovacevic. Tezuka’s original illustrations will be projected alongside work by video artist Taiki Ueda and calligraphy by Tosui Suzuki. Using the dancers’ movements to trace the physical evolution of Tezuka’s drawings – from a line on a blank page to a single Japanese kanji (letter) to a fully-formed manga character – Cherkaoui will bring the “God of Manga’s” philosophy, drawings and characters to life.

(Image: Sadler’s Wells)

On Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September, the Thames Festival is taking place. The event itself is not Japanese-themed, but there will be Japanese lantern making workshops (Akari Lantern Project) throughout the weekend (outside the Tate Modern), culminating in a lantern parade led by the Joji Hirota’s taiko drummers (Night Carnival).

(Image: Japan Society)

If all that isn’t enough for you, there’s more! On Sunday 18th September it’s the return of the Japan Matsuri, only this time it’s at County Hall on the South Bank. I’m very excited about the matsuri – it should be excellent! There’s going to be food and drink, arts and crafts, clothing and textiles, and lots more!

(Image: Japan Matsuri)

That’s it for now, but I’m sure I’ll come across some more events for the following months. I’ll be attending all of the above, so watch this space for lots of photos and reviews!


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