Ninagawa Hamlet at the Barbican

Ninagawa HamletThe Japanese theatre director Yukio Ninagawa is eighty this year, and to celebrate he’s bringing his production of Hamlet to the Barbican Theatre. Those of you who saw his production of Cymbeline at the Barbican in 2012 have no doubt bought your tickets already – for the rest of you, this is a heads-up. Ninagawa has spent his life producing Shakespeare – so much so that Ninagawa Shakespeare is a recognised genre. This production of Hamlet is his eighth staging of the work. Continue reading

The sound of Taiko: Yamato Drummers on tour

yamato drummersThe Yamato Drummers of Japan are back in the UK with a twenty-date tour that opened in Bristol on 20 April. They offer a dynamic high energy drumming show that combines strength and skill with humour and showmanship. It’s a thrilling kaleidoscope of sound – and very loud. Continue reading

Mr Potsunen comes to London

Mr PotsunenIt’s always a problem deciding what to do about events that are only on for a very short time. Do I go, and then tell you about it afterwards, adding smugly that it’s too late for you to see it? Or do I tell you about it in advance, when I can’t actually tell you what it’s like, so you have to take a leap in the (semi) dark?  Well. with Mr Potsunen’s Peculiar Slice of Life, I’ve opted for the advance option. Continue reading

Siro-A : Bizarre Comical Techno Fun

Siro-AContinuing the theatrical theme of my last post, if you’re still looking for a Christmas show with a Japanese twist, I can thoroughly recommend Siro-A at the Leicester Square Theatre. It’s usually billed as ‘Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group’, which isn’t a lot of help if you don’t know much about the Blue Man Group. So here’s a guide to what you can expect from Siro-A’s ‘technodelic’ show. Continue reading

A Samurai Rabbit hits the London Stage

Usagi YojimboUsagi Yojimbo (Rabbit Bodyguard) is a comic book series that originates, not in Japan, home of manga and anime, but in the USA. It’s the creation of Japanese-American artist Stan Sakai. Set in the samurai era, it features stories from Japanese history and folklore and is so faithful to the period that it won a Parents Choice award for educational value. And now it’s the Christmas show at the Southwark Playhouse. Continue reading

A hundred years of Japanese glamour – the Takarazuka Revue

I originally wrote this post about the 100th anniversary of the Takarazuka Revue on my website,, but then I thought I’d share it here on Sequins and Cherry Blossom too. It comes from my recent trip to Japan when I went back to Takarazuka, which was the setting for The Cherry Blossom Murder, the first book in my Josie Clark in Japan mystery series.

Fran Pickering

Takarazuka Revue It’s the Takarazuka Revue’s one hundredth anniversary this year, so I absolutely had to go back to the little town in the mountains outside Osaka where it all began and see the anniversary production of their most famous show, The Rose of Versailles. It was a trip down memory lane for me – it’s several years since I was last there, and I was excited to be back.

Takarazuka The view down the Flower Path towards the theatre complex

Seeing a show at the Takarazuka Revue is the most amazing experience and I definitely recommend you try it if you ever get the chance. The theatre is massive – it seats 2,000 and the stage is twice the size of the stage at the London Coliseum.

Takarazuka The audience arriving for the 11 am show

The entrance to the theatre complex The entrance to the theatre complex

There are four hundred actresses in total – about seventy…

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Japan’s technodelic illusionists hit London


They played the Edinburgh Fringe in 2011, where they were awarded Melvyn Stutter’s Spirit of the Fringe award; they toured Germany, Denmark and Austria in 2012 where they went down a storm; now it’s London’s turn to be alternately puzzled and dazzled by the ‘technodelic’ mix of live action, video, sound, comedy and strangeness that is Siro-A. Continue reading

How Japanese is The Mikado?

The Mikado - Savoy Theatre 1885You know The Mikado – it’s the comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan, with the ‘little list’ of things that won’t be missed that gets rewritten to satirise whatever politicians are in power every time a new production appears. I ask because the English National Opera has six performances coming up at the end of the month, from 21st to 31st January.

Their highly successful Jonathan Miller production sets the whole thing in a 1930’s seaside hotel in Britain. Which makes a lot of sense, as much of the enjoyment in the Mikado comes from poking fun at British customs and institutions. But how Japanese is The Mikado?
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The English Samurai from Shogun is coming to Sadler’s Wells!

Anjin leafletThere’s a treat coming up at Sadler’s Wells. From 31 January to 9 February 2013 they’re staging Anjin – The Shogun and the English Samurai.

Anjin is the story of William Adams, an English navigator, thought to be the first Englishman ever to reach Japan, where he became known as Miura Anjin – the pilot of Miura – the English Samurai.  Continue reading