Japan Matsuri



Date: Sunday 24 September 2017
Time: 10:00 to 20:00
Venue: Trafalgar Square, Westminster, London WC2N 5DN
Tickets: Free event. No tickets required.

London’s very own festival of Japanese culture – Japan Matsuri – will take place on Sunday 24 September. In its 9th year and a regular fixture in the London calendar, this energetic annual event brings people together to enjoy an amazing day of Japanese food, music, dance, and so much more. All absolutely free.

This year’s Japan Matsuri will provide a rare chance to see performers from the little-known Japanese form of variety theatre known as yose.

Left: Daikagura performerer OKINYA Wasakue.

Right: Kyokugoma master MIMASU Monnosuke. 

Photography by KAWAKAMI Makoto

Special entertainment from Japan
Thanks to the generous support of Japan House London, visitors to this year’s Japan Matsuri will be treated to displays of daikagura by OKINAYA Wasuke and kyokugoma by MIMASU Monnosuke, both making their UK début with dynamic and surprising yose theatre circus routines involving feats of balancing and juggling.

See Okinaya perform daikagura tricks such as twirling a ball on an umbrella and balancing a tea pot on a stick held in his mouth. Daikagura originally developed from the ceremonial music (shikiraku) and court dances (bugaku) for Shinto shrines.

Mimasu’s special yose theatre skill involves balancing spinning tops, known as kyokugoma, developed during Japan’s Edo period (1603-1868). The traditional craft of making colourful tops in a variety of shapes has been inherited by a limited number of artisans. Kyokugoma includes top-spinning on swords, strings, fans, sticks and kimono. Prepare to be amazed by Mimasu and his spinning tops!

Yose-moji calligrapher TACHIBANA Umon

Photography by KAWAKAMI Makoto

Visit the Japan House London stand at Japan Matsuri to see TACHIBANA Umon, visiting specially from Tokyo, demonstrate yose-moji, a type of calligraphy developed in the Edo period for yose theatre posters and signs. Umon was introduced to yose-moji during his university years, when he joined a rakugo comedy storytelling study group. After his graduation, he became an apprentice of Tachibana style yose-moji master UMON Tachibana and later inherited the master’s name as a successor of the style. For a very special souvenir from the festival, come to the Japan House London stand to see Umon demonstrating the art of yose-moji and take home your very own original piece of calligraphy by this master from Japan.

Other entertainment will include the unmissable Joji HIROTA and the London Taiko Drummers with their mighty thunder drum sound, jazz and street dance, rakugo comic storytelling by Katsura SUNSHINE, the massed violins of the children of the Suzuki Institute, and the London Okinawa Sanshinkai introducing the distinct and infectious music and dance culture of the people of the sub-tropical Ryukyu islands, Japan’s beach holiday hot spot.

Festival food stalls
Enjoy the atmosphere with delicious Japanese festival food from a host of brightly coloured stalls. Graze on classic Japanese street food snacks such as gyoza dumplings, karaage fried chicken, takoyaki octopus balls, yakisoba noodles, or okonomiyaki pancakes. Those after something more substantial will find wagyu burgers, ramen, bento boxes, donburi rice bowls and sushi. For dessert try red-bean jam dorayaki pancakes, kakigori (shaved ice with syrup) and mochi rice cakes.

Get involved…
As in previous years, everything will kick off bright and early at 10am and the action will run non-stop all the way through until 8pm in the evening. With two stages, there is plenty to see all day with an exciting main stage programme and amazing displays of martial arts on the second stage. Enjoy demonstrations of Kendo, Karate, Aikido and for the first time at Japan Matsuri, Kyudo archery. Swing to the beat of taiko drumming or sing along to the Japan Matsuri song on the main stage. There is even a chance to sing on stage if you fancy entering the ever popular Nodojiman karaoke singing contest!

Stop by the activity tent to play traditional matsuri games, or learn Japanese crafts from origami and calligraphy to manga cartoon drawing... and much more!

Visit the official Japan Matsuri website for further details www.japanmatsuri.com