Japan in London, January and February

There’s always a lot of Japanese-related stuff going on in London, so I thought it might be useful to give you a heads-up about some of what’s going on in the next couple of months. I’m sure I’ll miss something though, so do feel free to leave a comment if there’s something you’d like to add!

All information and images below are taken from the links given.

Now – until 20th January
ART: Flame and water pots: prehistoric ceramic art from Japan, at the British Museum

A display of three pots made by the Jōmon people – a culture which produced some of the oldest pottery in the world.

The display will feature three ‘flame’ and ‘water’ pots from ancient Japan. The pots are between 5,000 and 7,000 years old and are from one of the oldest ceramic cultures in the world. Loans of two pots from Nagaoka City in the Niigata prefecture in Japan will sit alongside the Museum’s own Jōmon pot which was featured in the British Museum and BBC Radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects.

The Jōmon people lived in Japan around 16,000 to 2,500 years ago. The term ‘Jōmon’ means ‘cord-marked’ in Japanese, and is derived from the decorative markings on the pottery. More and more is being discovered about Jōmon origins and culture, and the extraordinary surviving examples of their pottery have sparked huge interest around the world.

The pots themselves were made for a number of reasons and are both functional and aesthetically beautiful. The display will look at some of the imagery and symbolism on the pots, and will try to provide an insight into this mysterious culture from the distant past. It will also demonstrate how Jōmon pots have been an inspiration to modern Japanese culture with references in music, manga, modern art and even manhole cover design.

For more information, please visit the British Museum website.

Earthenware flame pot

Earthenware flame pot. Japan, c. 3000 BC. Nagaoka Municipal Science Museum, Niigata Prefecture, Japan.

Now – until 20th January
ART: William Klein + Daido Moriyama, at the Tate Modern

Explore modern urban life in New York and Tokyo through the photographs of William Klein and Daido Moriyama. This is the first exhibition to look at the relationship between the work of influential photographer and filmmaker Klein, and that of Moriyama, the most celebrated photographer to emerge from the Japanese Provoke movement of the 1960s.

With work from the 1950s to the present day, the exhibition demonstrates the visual affinity between their urgent, blurred and grainy style of photography and also their shared desire to convey street life and political protest, from anti-war demonstrations and gay pride marches to the effects of globalisation and urban deprivation.

The exhibition also considers the medium and dissemination of photography itself, exploring the central role of the photo-book in avant-garde photography and the pioneering use of graphic design within these publications. As well the issues of Provoke magazine in which Moriyama and his contemporaries showcased their work, the exhibition will include fashion photography from Klein’s work with Vogue and installations relating to his satirical films Mister Freedom and Who Are You Polly Maggoo?

For more information, please visit the Tate Modern website.

William Klein + Daido Moriyama

William Klein + Daido Moriyama

Now – until 17th February
ART: Mariko Mori – Rebirth, at the Royal Academy of Arts

This winter we welcome New York based Japanese artist Mariko Mori to our new space for art and architecture in Burlington Gardens. Her first major exhibition in London for 14 years, Rebirth includes some of Mori’s most acclaimed works from the last 11 years, alongside new works created especially for this exhibition. Starting and ending with the death and birth of a star, the cycle of life and rebirth is an important theme of the show, which includes photography, works on paper, sound works, as well as sculpture and large scale immersive installations and environments that invite contemplation.

The exhibition has been developed in close collaboration with the artist, and is timed to coincide with the winter solstice in 2012. According to ancient calendars, this year’s solstice will either mark the end of the world or the birth of a new era.

Since her first exhibitions in the mid-1990s, Mori’s practice has been rooted in both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture, and between East and West. Her works juxtapose contrasting aesthetic languages that have ranged from traditional tea ceremonies to Manga and cyber culture, fusing Shintoism and Buddhism with the hard planes of science and technology. Mori’s recent practice has evolved around a fascination with ancient cultures, among them prehistoric Jomon (c.14,000 – 300 BC) in Japan and Celtic traditions in Europe. Founded on a belief in cycles of death and rebirth, these were marked by a holistic world view that placed mankind in a more harmonious relationship with our surroundings. These interests are expressed through emerging technologies and digital media, which the artist embraces as tools to be harnessed in order to reconnect with our environment.

For more information, please visit the Royal Academy of Arts website.

Mariko Mori

Mariko Mori, ‘Transcircle 1.1’ (Indoor), 2004.
Stone, corian, LED, real time control system; Overall dimensions: 336 cm Diameter: 110 x 56 x 34 cm (each stone) The Mori Art Collection, Tokyo. © Mariko Mori. Photo: Ole Hein Pedersen.

Now – until 24th February
FASHION: Kitty and the Bulldog: Lolita fashion and the influence of Britain, at the V&A

Kitty and the Bulldog explores the way in which British fashion – notably Victoriana, Punk and Gothic – has influenced the development of Japan’s ‘Lolita’ style, a cult fashion movement whose defining feature has been its preoccupation with cuteness, or ‘kawaii’. The display features nine outfits recently bought in Tokyo for the V&A’s permanent collections.

For more information, please visit the V&A website.

Young Lolitas in Osaka, November 2011

Young Lolitas in Osaka, November 2011 © V&A Images

12th January
MUSIC: Japan Underground: Headbangers Bash with BRAIN DEAD ZOMBIES and UMEZ live, at The Pipeline

Come and join us celebrate a new year in the only way we know how – with loud, heavy metal from Japan! On Saturday 12 January, Japan Underground will once again takeover Liverpool Street’s punk bar The Pipeline for a night of distorted debauchery, featuring two live acts from the east.

Headlining the night is Kobe metal outfit BRAIN DEATH ZOMBIE, unleashing their aggressive and haunting sound for the first time outside of Japan. The quintet is heavily inspired by the likes of Korn, Slipknot and Japan’s own Dir en Grey.

London-based Japanese noise-duo Umez will also make their return to Japan Underground. They clash two contrasting genres together to create a unique sound, combining elements of J-pop and avant-garde noise. The unit is formed by members from the Japanese all-girl group No Cars, and indie rockers Screaming Tea Party.

PLUS! Japan Underground’s resident DJ, music journalist and JPU Records’ owner Tom Smith, will supply track-after-track from Japan’s hardcore, metal, punk and heavy rock scenes. If it’s not got loud guitars, thunderous drums or brutal breakdown, it’s not getting played. Come along, rock out, discover a whole new world of Japanese music.

For more information, please visit the Japan Underground website.



13th January
FILM/ANIME: Studio Ghibli select-rospective, at the Prince Charles Cinema

Come and spend a day with us as we celebrate some of our favourite offerings from the wonderful Studio Ghibli as we screen My Neighbor Totoro, Porco Rosso & Spirited Away back to back.

For more information, please visit the Prince Charles Cinema website.

Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli

18th January
ANIME: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Anime… Talk with Hirokatsu Kihara and Michihiko Suwa, at the Japan Foundation

Japanese animation has enthralled audiences worldwide and through its stories, concepts and visual splendour, the enchantment of the likes of Studio Ghibli and abundance of television series continue to captivate the imaginations of many. But how did such ideas come about, what is it that makes anime so distinct and original, and how has animation developed over the decades to become such a worldwide success?

The Japan Foundation has invited two of the most renowned figures in the industry behind this phenomenon, Hirokatsu Kihara and Michihiko Suwa, to introduce the real world of creating Japanese animation. Through Kihara’s involvement with early Studio Ghibli productions and the current subculture scene and manga, and Suwa’s role as Chief Producer at the Animation department of Yomiuri TV for anime franchises including Detective Conan (aka Case Closed), City Hunter and Inuyasha, they have helped realise a number of world-famous anime television series and movies during their illustrious careers. Despite their differing experiences, productions and working styles, Kihara and Suwa both hold a huge passion, understanding and vision for the medium, expressed through their work and activities.

Having witnessed the Japanese animation industry’s rise to the worldwide phenomenon, Kihara and Suwa will be joined by Helen McCarthy, journalist, author and anime expert, to explore the different sources of anime – both manga adaptations and originally crafted stories – and discuss their position in the Japanese animation industry, suggesting what the future holds for the medium. With Kihara’s experience of the celluloid-era of animation, and Suwa’s experience of its transition to digital, this event will also provide a fascinating insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ of anime production, telling the real story and history around the animated images.

For more information, please visit the Japan Foundation website.

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Anime…

Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Anime…

24th January – 18th March
ART: Winnebago, Carpets, Onsen, Potter by Peter McDonald, at the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

Peter McDonald (born in Tokyo in 1973) depicts colourful scenes inhabited by people engaged in everyday activities. Images of teachers, artists, hairdressers or carpet sellers are constructed with an elementary graphic language. By making use of archetypes, symbolism and our incorrigible tendency to make the strange seem more familiar, McDonald’s alternative world reads like a parallel universe.

The artist describes the exhibition as a view of his painted universe, showcasing his paintings and works on paper, revealing the influence of everyday experiences upon his practice. For example the diptych, Looking for a Carpet (2009) was based on an experience during a trip to Morocco. Some of the works on paper reflect his stay in Japan during and after his year-long project Visitor, in Kanazawa, whilst the Noh drama series of works were based on his memories of traditional theatre performances and collaborations with the Kanazawa Noh Museum during Visitor.

For more information, please visit the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation website.

Peter McDonald

Matisse Green Head, 2010, acrylic gouache on paper, 21 x 29 cm, courtesy Kate MacGarry, London

31st January – 9th February
THEATRE: Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai, at Sadler’s Wells

William Adams, known in Japanese as Anjin, was an English maritime pilot who is believed to be the first Englishman to ever reach Japan. His story is brought to the stage in a stunning new play directed by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Artistic Director, Gregory Doran, and written by Mike Poulton with Shoichiro Kawai.

Washed ashore on a strange and exotic land, Anjin soon finds himself as the trusted adviser to the powerful Shogun Tokugawa, drawn to the heart of a dangerous clash of cultures and struggle for power, whilst war threatens to erupt all around. Torn between two worlds and two lives, Anjin must decide who he really is, and where he really belongs.

An epic and compelling tale of friendship, honour, love and sacrifice, this beautifully staged new production stars the celebrated Japanese actor Masachika Ichimura alongside Stephen Boxer, Yuki Furukawa and an international cast direct from Japan and the UK. Performed in English and Japanese with surtitles in both languages.

For more information, please visit the Sadler’s Wells website.

Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai

Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai

1st February – 27th March
FILM: The Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme – Once Upon a Time in Japan, at the ICA

Marking its 10th anniversary, the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme looks back into the past through the eyes of contemporary filmmakers. Touching upon a trend prevalent in recent Japanese cinema, this season showcases a series of works from directors including Takashi Miike, Sunao Katabuchi, Hirokazu Kore-eda and Isshin Inudo, who all share the same aspiration to reinterpret and relive moments of times gone by through a variety of genres, styles and tones. The programme will begin on 1 February 2013 at ICA, before touring nationwide.

For more information, please visit the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme website.

Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust

Bubble Fiction: Boom or Bust

1st February
MUSIC: DJ Krush – Rare London Show, at The Forum

Soundcrash proudly presents one of the world’s most legendary producers. A man without whose influence many of the biggest electronic artists taking the world by storm these days would simply not exist. DJ Krush returns to London for an all-too-rare showcase of his unique brand of dark, multi-textured beats. An unmissable show from a true legend in the game.

Described by Flying Lotus as his main early influence, DJ KRUSH’s brand of instrumental Hip Hop took the genre to a whole different level, an influence that is still felt today in the vast swathe of West Coast Hip Hop championed by the Stones Throw and Brainfeeder crews as well as new acts of the caliber of Shabazz Palaces or Ratking. Moving away from the I-Can-Scratch-Faster-Than-Thou contests turntablism had become in the States, DJ Krush focused on the musicality the medium offered and laid the foundation for a new generation of sounds that would later be known as Trip-Hop and the myriad micro-scenes that came out of that era. Today, as relevant as he ever was, DJ Krush tours the world sparingly, but when he does he delivers what can only be described as a masterclass in layering, beat manipulation and generally ripping places to pieces in the best possible way. Come pay your respects to the Sensei, you won’t regret it.

For more information, please visit the Soundcrash website.

DJ Krush event flyer

DJ Krush event flyer

2nd February
MUSIC: Japan Underground ft. Japanese Michael Jackson Tribute DISCYU, at Namco Fun Scape, County Hall

Whether you’re a smooth criminal or a dirty Diana, you’re in for a thriller of a night this February. Japan Underground, one of the UK’s leading Japanese music promoters, is flying in five-piece Michael Jackson tribute act DISCYU all the way from Japan for a special one-off evening of entertainment that’s tipped to be dangerousbad and off the wall.

So, if you wanna be startin’ somethin’, you better be heading down to London’s Namco Fun Scape on Saturday 2 February 2013 to shake your body. Japan Underground will be taking over the venue’s downstairs bar and arcade for a night dedicated to the King of Pop, Japanese style! On top of the dance performance from  DISCYU, there will be DJ sets throughout the night, incorporating cover songs from Japanese artists and pop classics, plus you can beat it on an array of arcade machines, as well as karaoke and bowling being available – plus a fully licensed bar. Shamon!

DISCYU is the latest signing to Japan’s Legend of Rock, an agency specialising in tribute acts to the world’s best loved artists. Other groups under the collective include QUEER as QUEEN – a Queen tribute act that performed in London in 2012 – and Metallica tribute Hattallica, who sold out their first London show in 2011 and are regulars at Japan’s Summer Sonic Festival.

For more information, please visit the Japan Underground website.

DISCYU event flyer

DISCYU event flyer

13th February
MUSIC: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, at the O2 Academy Islington

The renowned Japanese fashion icon and eccentric singer, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu announces her UK debut in February as part of her ‘100% KPP World Tour 2013’.

For more information, please visit the O2 Academy Islington website.

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu

2 thoughts on “Japan in London, January and February

  1. Thanks for the info! I’ll be down in London for the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme so I may check out some of these. I read a book about William Adams a few years back so Anjin: The Shogun and The English Samurai, at Sadler’s Wells sounds like my sort of thing.


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