Saturday, 19 September 2015

Japan Matsuri 2015

Very reluctantly Zoe and I got up early and headed into London for an event called Japan Matsuri in Trafalgar Square.

A regular fixture now in the London calendar, this annual festival brings people together to enjoy Japanese food, music, dance, and activities for all the family. And it’s FREE! This year they were celebrating a special anniversary of 150 years of friendship between London and Japan and the story of the Satsuma Students from Kagoshima.

Proceedings kicked off with some drumming by Thames Taiko.

Next up was Naomi Suzuki in the first of many segments involving her Japan Matsuri theme song IBUKI.

Which led us nicely into the opening ceremony.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshirō Mori took to the podium for an opening speach

Unfortunately we also had to suffer Jeremy Hunt and Victoria Borwick but I guess you can't have everything LOL.

We were then treated to kagami-biraki where the lids of sake barrels are broken open with wooden happens as part of a ceremony to represent harmony and good fortune.

It was then time for a spot of breakfast.
Takoyaki for me (essentially battered octopus balls)

Yakisoba for Zoe (noodles with some beansprouts)

After that there was lots going on throughout the day. There was cosplay:

There were Pikachu fans desperate to have their photo taken with Zoe:

Satsuma Kenshi Hayato, a samuari from Kagoshima, took to the main stage with his fox spirit Yassembo:

What does Pikachu need? A Pikachu balloon of course!

Everyone likes drums right? Izaku Taiko Odori entertained us with their interesting costumes and drumming:

Well I can deny it as much as I want but the truth seems to come back every time, we really do love Domo!

How cute are this little lot? It's great to see kids involved in an event like this and having fun!

 J-Factor karaoke competition came next which was quite entertaining although the piece de resistance was a crowd sing a long of Ode To Joy in a combination of Japanese, English and humming. 

Sadly I was too busy belting our Edelweiss to record that one!

After another round of IBUKI it was time for the graceful moves of the Hiroko Tanaka Japanese Dancers.

We took a mooch on over to the Manga Wall to see what creativity had been going on during the day. I think Zoe should have had a go but she said she didn't know what to draw relating to the theme of travel. Looks like some other people didn't stick to that either LOL.

Kagoshima has it's very own mascot who I think is super kawaii. This is Guribu and his son:

Apologies in advance for the ear worm (I am currently banned from playing this in the house) but here is a snippet the Guribu song...

The Izaku Taiko Odori made a return only this time in the crowd rather than on the stage:

Okinawa Sanshin-kai entertained us with some traditional Japanese music, dance and drumming:

Taking a stroll around Zoe bumped into Guribu:

One hit wonders Frank Chickens were next up with their brand of zany electronic music. We have been called a national disgrace announced singer Kazuko Hohki but now we have a non-Japanese member we have become an international disgrace! They kicked off with their 80s 'smash' We Are Ninja (thanks to BambooTwo on Youtube for capturing this):

Absolutely mental but highly entertaining!

Things were turned down a notch with the Hibiki Ensemble playing some very relaxing and chilled koto and flute music. It was beautiful.

JSD Crew hit the stage next to show us their street dance moves:

Reijiro Tsumara, Noh actor and Japanese intangible cultural asset, was up next with a performance piece including piano and ballet called Journey To The Speed Of Sound.

Guribu hit the stage for one lats song and dance much to our delight!

Here's the full Guribu song (almost, apart from the technical glitch but they didn't stop dancing)

As the say slowly drew to a close the Izaku Taiko Odori hit the main stage once again:

Naomi Suzuki came out for one last round of IBUKI and to plug the associated CD release

Final performance of the day was Joji Hirota and London Taiko Drummers. What a way to finish things! Amazing performance, great rhythms and co-ordination.

Some farewell speeches rounded things off........

............ and then it was time to go home!

Japan Matsuri 2015 was an absolutely brilliant event. Although it was stupidly busy it was far less frantic than your usual Comic Con type events. It was just nice to be able to emerse myself in traditional Japanese culture and soak it all up. Neither of us wanted the day to end and we'll definitely be back again next year!
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