Make your wish come true at Tanabata Festival!!

In Japan, July 7th is a special day. It is called “Tanabata”. Originally imported from China, this festival comes with a fairy tale: There are a prince and princess in the sky, sadly separated by the Milky way. (In Japan, the Milky way is called the river in the Heaven.) But only on the night of July 7th, they are able to see each other. If it rains on the night, it is believed that they missed the chance for the year.

What Japanese actually do for this festival is to write their wishes on a long and small piece of Origami (called Tanzaku), and hang them on a bamboo trees together with other Origami works. Most often an activity for young children, even adults may enjoy this occasion. Women usually wear Yukata (cotton kimono) for this occasion.

This year, by the suggestion of the Japanese Embassy in London, many gardens in the UK, especially Japanese gardens with bamboos trees, have celebrated or will celebrate this Tanabata festival. Local school children are asked to write their wishes on Tanzaku and hang them on bamboo trees in a Japanese garden.

Around Manchester also, school children near the Walkden Garden in Sale participated in this celebration, as the Walkden Garden has a beautiful Japanese garden in it.
The activity took place on July 8th, and I visited the garden later on the day.

It was a beautiful summer day, and I really enjoyed the sight of bamboo trees decorated in various colors of Origami pieces. Please take a look at the video now.

How is it working in Tokyo?

Hi, Everyone! This time, I’m in Tokyo.

I had a chance to meet my former student, who is now working in one of the most prestigious office areas in Tokyo.

He is doing really well; in fact, he has just been head-hunted for a bigger and better company, and will be starting there soon.
I wasn’t surprised to hear that, as I remember he had a great attitude; kind of traits that are valued in Japanese society: modest, humble, polite, kind, considerate. When I was helping him prepare for a job interview for a Japanese company a few years ago, I knew everybody would like him.

He is a very intelligent person, but for this interview, he might have been a bit tense, and not as eloquent as he usually is.

Anyway, let’s find out what he’s got to say!

I’m very, very happy for him for his coming wedding. All the best wishes!!

The first British Japanese Consul in Liverpool

This time, I came to Liverpool again, to follow the footsteps of James Lord Bowes, the first British person who was assigned to be Japanese Consul in the UK. Please watch the video!

After he died, no one of his family members, nor any museum, was willing to inherit the Japanese Museum as it was. At the end, sadly, the vast collection had to be auctioned piece by piece, and the auction continued for 10 days! Imagine the number of works of art that had to be sold.

As Mr. Smith cleverly mentioned, I also believe that the butterfly was indeed James’ spirit. I wish I had kept still, then the butterfly might have stayed on my hand a little while longer. I’m sure his spirit wanted to say to us, “Thank you for remembering me!”

Sushi Workshop at Yo!Sushi in Liverpool!

This time, I’m in Liverpool, at the brand-new shopping mall, Liverpool One. Today, I’m visiting Yo!Sushi here, to visit a Sushi Workshop they are offering. But all the participants are wearing the same scarf. Let’s find out why!

So, they are all scouts! They are all going to Scouts Jamboree to be held next Summer in Japan.

It was extremely generous of the manager, Nathan, at the Yo!Sushi Liverpool to offer them a free workshop. Otherwise, it will cost 30 pounds per person!! He said he’d love to support Scout activities. I hope all the scouts enjoyed their experience.

The best Japanese Taiko drumming group, KODO, is coming to Manchester!!

Have you ever heard of a Taiko? It is a traditional Japanese drum. Japanese Taiko drumming is increasingly popular in the UK, and not only a few Japanese Taiko drumming groups have visited here, but also there are many local groups led by British people.

Kodo is arguably at the top of the pyramid of Taiko groups. You can find a lot about them by following this link: About Kodo

As a Japanese, I have heard a lot about Kodo, and watched many times on TV. Being a female, I have to admit that I was rather attracted to the powerful performance by the muscular and half-naked male members of Kodo. But somehow, I had never managed to see their performance on stage.

Then, in 2012, one of the most famous Kabuki actors in Japan, Tamasaburo Bando, became their Artistic Director. What?! I have been a huge fan of him for a long time. So there was no more time to waste; I booked a ticket for their stage performance, “Amaterasu,” in which Tamasaburo appears as a Goddess of sun, Amaterasu. At the concert, I was in the first row, and I watched their entire performance without blinking! (Sorry, slight exaggeration here.) That was in December in 2013.

Smile! in front of the Kodo's poster
People wait in front of the Minami Theater in Kyoto for the Amaterasu concert on the closing night. The poster behind them shows Tamasaburo in Amaterasu's costume.

And now, Kodo is coming to Manchester, as a part of their “One Earth Tour 2014: Legend” European Tour!! It sounds too good to be true, but it is true! You don’t need to go to Japan to watch them, but you can see them right here in Manchester! They started from Italy, and most of the concerts were sold out. So, hurry! Get your ticket right now before it’s too late! I will see you at the Bridgewater Hall.

The UK Tour Schedule:
15 Feb – Lighthouse, Poole
17 Feb – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
19 Feb – Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
20 Feb – Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
25 Feb – Sage Gateshead, Gateshead
28 Feb – Dome, Brighton

For more information and to book a ticket, please click here:
One Earth Tour Schedule