Down on the South Bank they’re having a festival of love that’s going on all through July and August, with free events, themed weekends, performances, poetry, talks, pop-ups, installations and artworks. Including, courtesy of the Embassy of Japan and the Japan Society, a celebration of Tanabata, the Japanese festival of love, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month, and a display of fukinagashi decorations. I’ve been down to the Festival Hall to take a look. Continue reading
Today I’m going to write about Peter Paul Rubens, King James I and Britain’s favourite beverage. Along the way there’ll be a telescope, a daruma doll and some scones. What links all these things? An event I went to on Sunday called Two Cultures United by Tea, held at the Banqueting House in Whitehall to mark the four hundredth anniversary of the landing of the first English ship, the Clove, in Japan in 1613. Continue reading
For someone who has been through three years of strict training in the art of shojin cuisine at a Zen Buddhist temple in Otsu, near Kyoto, Toshio Tanahashi is surprisingly warm and twinkly. And a bit of a showman too, if the lecture and demonstration on shojin cuisine I went to, organised by the Japan Society, is anything to go by. Continue reading
Once again the Japan Society came up trumps with a great trip to Kew Gardens to learn about bonsai. And again I have to make a confession – though I’ve been to Kew a lot and was sure I’d seen all the Japanese stuff there (Chokushi Mon, Minka House, Japanese Landscape Garden – done!) I’ve never been to look at the bonsai. Continue reading
If you’re free tomorrow evening (18th March) at 6:45, I suggest you head down to the Swedenborg Society in Bloomsbury where Paul Johnson is giving a talk for the Japan Society about Sir Alfred East, a Victorian artist who was sent to Japan in 1888 by the Fine Art Society to paint scenes of Japanese life. Continue reading
So what’s got me so bothered about them just now?
The Ashmolean Museum’s exhibition of Meiji textiles, Threads of Silk and Gold, opened last week and I expect you’re wondering whether you need to go all the way to Oxford (an hour on the train! From Paddington!) to see it or if you can get by with just reading the reviews and looking at photos. The answer is, you absolutely have to go. I’ll tell you why. Continue reading
Last week I had a go at Japanese calligraphy, courtesy of the Japan Society who arranged a fascinating introductory workshop led by Yoko Takenami. It’s a difficult art, and I don’t just mean it’s hard to master the technique (though it’s that too). It’s all the other stuff that goes along with it that makes it complicated. Continue reading
Ever heard of economic botany? No, nor had I until I went on the Japan Society tour of the Herbarium at Kew Gardens which took us to see the economic botany collection and the library. Continue reading
Kew Gardens! It’s been years since I last went there. In fact it’s so long ago it might even have been back in the days when you put a penny in the turnstile to get in, (on second thoughts, it wasn’t THAT long ago), days which are unfortunately a distant memory as nowadays Kew has to turn more than a penny to fund its work as an internationally recognised research and education institution with the worlds largest collection of living plants.
What drew me there? Well, once again it’s thanks to the Japan Society which arranged a brilliant tour of the herbarium which I’ll tell you about in my next post.
For the moment I’m going to focus on the Gardens themselves as autumn is a lovely time of year to visit; the trees with their red and gold leaves are picture-perfect – as you can see: Continue reading