Perfect for hanami – Kensington Gardens cherry blossom

Hanami has reached us from Japan where pretty much the whole country turns out to picnic under the cherry blossom that marks the start of spring. Hanami (which literally means blossom viewing) is a perfect way to enjoy the good weather were having this year (2017), and for Easter weekend Kensington Gardens offers a perfect hanami spot. Continue reading

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

Two Truths at the Griffin Gallery

Keisuke KatsukiThe Griffin Gallery currently has an exhibition of six diverse Japanese artists on show. It’s called Two Truths, in a reference to the relative and absolute truths that underpin Buddhist philosophy. I’m not sure I quite get the connection, but it’s an interesting exhibition with plenty of variety to it. Continue reading

Colour and Patina – the Bronzes of Koji Hatakeyama

Koji HatakeyamaI’ve always though of bronze as, well, bronze-coloured. Not a colourful metal at all. But Koji Hatakeyama’s new exhibition at the Erskine Hall and Coe gallery has made me see bronze in a new light – or maybe a new set of colours.  Continue reading

My Japan Foundation Film Tour Top Five

Japan Foundation Touring Film ProgrammeYou don’t get much chance to see Japanese films in London (or the rest of the UK) but, thanks to the Japan Foundation, over the next couple of weeks there’s going to be a positive glut. So suddenly we go from nothing to see to too much to see. How are you going to prioritise? Let me help out, with my Japan Foundation Touring Programme top five. Continue reading

My top five posts of 2014

Kintsugi lacquer repairIt’s the last day of the year, time to look back and see what caught your attention in 2014. It’s a surprising collection (well, I was surprised, anyway) but then it’s always the posts you least expect that rocket to the top of the popularity charts. So here they are. 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

Gekiga: manga’s dark and brooding shadow

GekigaEver wondered how cartoon books moved from being simple entertainment for kids to being a leading 21st century art form? Well, it began with the manga movement in Japan in the 1950’s, led by the creative genius of Osamu Tezuka, the ‘God of Manga’, creator of Astro Boy, and Machiko Hasegawa, who created the massively popular cartoon character Sazae-san. But there was a darker strand of manga too, one that was born in the harsh days that followed the Japanese defeat in the Second World War, known as gekiga. The story of gekiga is told in an exhibition of original magazines at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury. Continue reading

Junko O’Neill – Peaceful Portraits of Space

Junko O'Neill Shower of Rainbow 1It’s nearly two years since I first saw Junko O’Neill’s dreamy landscapes and abstracts so I was interested to see what has changed in her latest exhibition. Size, for one thing. ‘It was hard to store large canvases,’ she told me, laughing a little ruefully. ‘And my husband said “Can’t you paint something smaller?” Smaller is better for customers too.’ Not that her new work is tiny, but it will certainly fit your walls nicely. Continue reading

Hyper Japan does Christmas!

Hyper Japan plushiesHyper Japan is is the biggest show of Japanese goods and culture in the UK, and this year we’ve got an extra dose of it in the Hyper Japan Christmas Market at Kensington Olympia. (Not Earl’s Court like the main show – boy, am I glad I checked the location before I set out.) It’s got everything you expect from Hyper Japan – games, cosplay, sake, martial arts, J-pops and a whole lot more, including an incredible range of ideas for presents for the Japanophile in your life. Want to know what I picked? Read on. Continue reading