Gold and glass and Hello Kitty – the refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art at the V&A

Kimono design V&AThe V&A have just reopened their refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art so, as you would expect, Yannick and I rushed down to have a look. And guess what? We really liked it. It’s a lovely mixture of of over five hundred objects, both old favourites and new acquisitions, all displayed in a layout reminiscent of a traditional Japanese house. Continue reading

Itchiku Kubota – Kimono as Landscape, Kimono as Art

Photo © Itchiku Kubota Art Museum/Peter Hoff

Photo © Itchiku Kubota Art Museum/Peter Hoff

The latest Japan Foundation programme has just hit my inbox, and I’m thrilled to see that they’re having a talk on Itchiku Kubota and his tsujigahana kimonos. I’ve been interested in these wonderful kimonos for a long time, so much so that a few years back I visited the Itchiku Kubota Museum in Japan to see the display of kimonos there for myself. Continue reading

A mystery solved – the Taitokuin model returns home

Taitokuin MausoleumJust over a year ago I did a post on the Japan-British exhibition of 1910, tracking where the exhibits ended up when the exhibition was over. The one that interested me the most was the one-tenth scale model of the Taitokuin Mausoleum, the memorial to the second Tokugawa Shogun in Zojo-ji Temple in Shiba. It was presented to the then King, George V, and remained for many years in the Royal Collection in dismantled form. But then what happened? I’ve only just found out. Continue reading

Yasuhisa Kohyama ceramic sculpture – the past reinvented

Yasuhisa KohyamaCall me shallow, but I do like it when I go to a gallery that’s as nice as the art they’re showing. I don’t like grubby, badly lit spaces – I want somewhere that’s bright and airy. I hate it when normally pleasant galleries decide to show their paintings in the half dark. If I want to peer at dimly lit objects in the gloom I’ll watch Wolf Hall. Luckily Erskine, Hall and Coe pass the nice gallery test with flying colours, and the art – by acclaimed ceramicist Yasuhisa Kohyama – is great too. Continue reading

Vintage kimonos online shop

kimono detailThere used to be shop in Neal St, a long time ago, called Neal St East. No, not the same as the East chain of shops that now have a branch near Covent Garden market; Neal St East was something else. It took up four floors of a complex emporium where goods from China, Korea, India and Japan were piled up in chaotic profusion, like an Eastern bazaar that had taken it into its head to migrate to what was then a quiet back street. I used to love it, not least for the racks of vintage kimonos on sale. Now vintage is becoming an increasingly acceptable choice, Neal St East is gone, taken over by a shoe shop. But it’s still possible to get your hands on vintage kimonos if you know where to look. Continue reading

Kirk Palmer – Remembering absence

Kirk Palmer Remembering AbsenceLast week I did a post about the Conflict:Time:Photography exhibition at the Tate Modern, and the way it brings the past into focus by showing the elapse of time from a key event, like the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Now here I am again with another photography exhibition about the dropping of the atomic bomb, but one with an approach that couldn’t be more different. The clue is in the exhibition title – Remembering Absence. Continue reading

Merry Christmas!

Merry ChristmasI wish you all a very merry Christmas and hope you’re looking forward to your turkey and Christmas pudding and all the other Christmas traditions your family follows. As it’s Christmas, I thought I’d share with you a couple of Japanese Christmas traditions that may surprise you. Continue reading

Carl Randall’s Hyperrealist Portraits

Carl Randall‘He’s not a Japanese artist, you know,’ said the girl at the Berloni Gallery when I gave her my Sequins and Cherry Blossom card. I know. But Carl Randall, winner of the 2012 BP Travel Award, is a former Daiwa Scholar who studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts and paints remarkable hyperrealistic yet subtly distorted portraits of Japanese people. So I wanted to see his latest work. Continue reading

The Haiku Murder is here!

The Haiku MurderIt’s publication day! The Haiku Murder is out!

A haiku-writing trip turns to tragedy when a charismatic financier falls from the top of Matsuyama castle. But was he pushed? Expat Londoner Josie Clark thinks so, but her life goes spinning off the rails as she tries to find the victim’s missing bag and its mysteriously valuable contents before more people die. Who’d have thought poetry could be so dangerous?

Praise for the Josie Clark in Japan mystery series:
Lush imagery captures Japan’s bustling cities and restful countryside… believably crafted characters, a fast pace, and clean prose. – Publishers Weekly

The Haiku Murder is the second book in the Josie Clark in Japan mystery series, but you can read it as a stand-alone story as well. Get the ebook at Amazon UK and Amazon USA, or the print version at Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

And, as a bonus, there’s also an ebook prequel novelette, The Tokyo Karaoke Murder. It’s a short read – should take about an hour – that challenges you to solve the mystery faster than Josie can. It’s on Amazon UK and Amazon USA.

The Tokyo Karaoke Murder

Basho and Wordsworth – more in common than you’d think

Basho and wordsworthIt’s a bit far for a day trip, but up in Cumbria there’s an exhibition on called Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets. It’s at the Wordsworth Museum, next to Dove Cottage where William Wordsworth wrote some of his greatest poetry. It features manuscripts and early printed editions of work written by Basho, Wordsworth, and Wordsworth’s sister Dorothy, who is now recognised as a significant writer in her own right, as well as new works by contemporary artists responding to the manuscripts and what originally inspired them. The theme, and the connection it makes between two such different poets, sounds fascinating. Continue reading