Japanese wedding envelopes in Stoke Newington

Japanese envelopes London Design Festival venues come in all shapes and sizes, from the V&A, through the big set pieces like Tent in the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch, down to little one-off shows in out of the way places, like the one I went to earlier this week. Though I’m not sure that Stoke Newington aficionados will forgive me for calling their beloved Stokey ‘out of the way.’ But it is a 73 bus ride away from the centre, so going there takes a little more effort.  I’m glad to say the effort paid off.  Continue reading

Simplified Beauty at the London Design Festival

Mashiko Pottery I love the London Design Festival. it runs for a week (or so) every September and showcases an incredible variety of design talent all across London in what it calls Design Quarters. I spent the first day in the Shoreditch Design Quarter visiting Simplified Beauty at SCP on Curtain Street. It featured a number of modern Japanese designers, including my all-time favourite, Mashiko Potteries. Continue reading

Book Review – The Art of the Japanese Garden

Art of the Japanese GardenA few weeks back I reviewed David and Michiko Young’s book on Japanese architecture, and now I’m covering the companion book on gardens. As with the architecture book, it’s published by Tuttle and is copiously illustrated with colour photos taken by the authors. I have to admit, when it arrived the first thing I did was check to see whether my favourite gardens were included. Some were, and some, to my surprise, hadn’t made the cut. Continue reading

Noodle lover’s paradise on St Giles High St: Kanada-ya

Kanada-ya LondonThis autumn London’s love affair with ramen reaches a new intensity with two new ramen restaurants going head to head on St Giles High St. The first of them, Kanada-ya, opened this week and I went along to see what’s on offer. Continue reading

Izakaya Boris – What’s the story?

Izakaya BorisYou probably think of County Hall as a tourist hotspot, with the London Eye next door and classic views from the terrace across the river to the Houses of Parliament. Maybe you’ve been to the aquarium, or even remember when it used to be home to the Saatchi Gallery. But the story I’m going to tell you is different. It’s about Mayor Boris and a Japanese restaurant that bears his name. And why it makes more sense than you might think. Continue reading

Bletchley Codebreakers and Japan

Bletchley ParkYou probably know the story of the codebreakers of Bletchley, whose top secret work to decipher the Enigma system the Germans used to encrypt their wartime communications did so much to help the Allies win the war, and which also laid the foundations for modern computing. Bletchley Park, the country estate where they worked, is open to the public and has been given a major upgrade, so I joined some Twitter friends for a look. Continue reading

The Truth about Japanese Knotweed

As far as I know, there isn’t any Japanese knotweed round our way. Which is good news, as the scare stories about what it can do to your garden and even your house are legion. It’s commonly called the modern-day triffid; it starts out as a rather attractive bamboo-like plant sitting neatly in the corner of the garden and ends up taking over the universe. It’s seriously scary. Continue reading

Schema-Sukima paired artists at LGLondon

Atsuo Hukuda One of the things I love about blogging on art in London is the huge variety on offer. Want to see some of the great masterworks of the last thousand years? The British Museum and the V&A are waiting for you with open doors. Prefer something small, new, quirky and offbeat? There’s a host of small galleries down hidden back streets ready to oblige. Which is what led me to duck into Hanway Place yesterday for something at the tinier end of the spectrum. Continue reading

Edmund de Waal at the Turner Contemporary, Margate

Edmund de WaalI cover Edmund de Waal’s exhibitions on the blog whenever I can – I love his ceramics – and his strong association with Japan through his family netsuke collection and his training as a potter qualifies him for a blog about art (and other things) with a Japanese connection. Though I’m stretching things a little as his current exhibition isn’t in London but at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. Still, it’s day trip-able from London so do what I did and get down there for a look – you won’t be disappointed. Continue reading

The Battersea Park Peace Pagoda

Battersea Park Peace Pagoda This week I ventured south of the river (but only just) to visit the peace pagoda in Battersea Park. If you’re a local you’ve probably jogged past it many times as it’s on the bank of the River Thames, and you may even know its story, but if not, I imagine you’re now asking, what’s a peace pagoda, and why is there one in Battersea Park?  Continue reading