Japan House London Makes Debut at Great Exhibition Road Festival
Japan House London is the cultural home of Japan in the UK, dedicated to bringing the best of Japan's creative offerings – from art and design through to music, literature and beyond – to audiences in London and beyond. On 17 and 18 June 2023, Japan House joins together with neighbouring cultural institutions including the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum, at the Great Exhibition Road Festival in a weekend of free events for the public. The festival welcomes visitors of all ages to engage with the most remarkable inventions in both science and art, from futuristic food tastings through to robotic playmates and a street-length, colour-filled, outdoor art gallery.
The Great Exhibition Road Festival first launched in 2019 and pays tribute to the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of all Nations held in the summer 1851, an astonishing display of 100,000 objects of ingenious invention from across the globe, extending over 10 miles through Knightsbridge. The event led to the permanent development of the Museums Quarter in South Kensington, where the Great Exhibition Road Festival is now located each year.
Japan House London is set to host two activities over the festival period, celebrating the festival theme of how awe and wonder inspire science and the arts.
Two Types of Kimono, Inspired by Nature
Princes Gardens, South Kensington, Saturday 17 and Sunday 18 June 12:00-18:00
The first of Japan House London's two activities offers under-12s the opportunity both to try on and design their own vibrant versions of these well-know Japanese garments, whose emblematic images and patterns are inspired by the wonders of the natural world. Children are invited to dress up in yukata – a light, summer kimono – and happi – a loose-fitting festival jacket - and enjoy photoshoots in these eye-catching garments, on loan courtesy of The Japan Society. Inspired by their close-up with Japanese patterns and fabrics, children are then able reimagine their own designs for and uchikake - an outer 'coat' worn over the top of kimono on formal occasions most often by the bride at weddings. Young designers have the option of entering their unique creations into a competition to win a happi of their own, with entries judged by Anna Jackson, Keeper of the Asian Department at the Victoria & Albert Museum. This drop-in event runs throughout the festival period.
Illustrated Storytelling from Japan
Family Stage, Sunday 18 June 15:45, 17:15
Two performances on the Family Stage on Sunday 18 June offer visitors of all ages the chance to witness the spectacle of kamishibai – the Japanese art of 'paper theatre' storytelling. Blending words, pictures and music, this charming theatrical style originated in Japan in the 1920s and continues to be popular to this day. The two performances, led by Japanese actress Haruka Kuroda, tell the tale of Tanabata – a Japanese summer festival which centres around the heart-warming story of a friendship between two stars destined only to reunite once a year.
The Great Exhibition Road Festival takes place in South Kensington on 17 and 18 June 2023 between 12:00-18:00. Events are free to attend, with registration available on the festival website: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/great-exhibition-road-festival-2023-registration-595625731597/. Further details, including locations for the two Japan House events, can be found here: https://www.greatexhibitionroadfestival.co.uk/whats-on/.