Thursday, 22 September 2011

Japan Matsuri at County Hall, London

This year I finally made it to Japan Matsuri in London and it was great fun. There were so many stalls from local Japanese restaurants and businesses selling hot and cold food, snacks, art, crafts and much more. There were also many stands promoting Japanese tourism and raising money for Tohoku earthquake relief.

Photo: Itsumo Japan



Photo: Itsumo Japan

Stalls selling hot foods like takoyaki, yakitori, okonomiyaki and yakiudon lined the area in front of County Hall filling the riverside with delicious barbecue smells. Japanese beer and other drinks were also on offer. At one stall I sampled some hot umeshu, a first for me as I've only ever had it cold before but it was lovely. I will definitely be making that at home this winter.

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Delicious takoyaki
Photo: Itsumo Japan 

Crispy fried chicken
Photo: Itsumo Japan

Lovely fresh sushi
Photo: Itsumo Japan

At the rear of the hall Belevdere Road was filled with the stalls selling cold food and snacks such as sushi, onigiri and bento. This was also where the craft and art stalls were located along with stands from Japanese airlines and tourist agencies. The Japan Centre had a very busy stall selling food, drinks and gifts.

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Photo: Itsumo Japan

On the Thames side of County Hall was the main stage were various music performances took place including Nodojiman: The J-Factor where members of the public competed in a singing competition to win tickets to Japan. At either end of Belvedere Road were 2 stages, at the eastern end the martial arts stage hosted demonstrations of aikido, kobudo, karate, judo and kendo including a very informative lesson in the practices and styles of traditional Okinawan Goju-Ryu karate by Sensei George Andrews.
You can read Sensei George Andrews' article about the matsuri here.

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Photo: Itsumo Japan

At the western end of the road was the Belvedere stage which had demonstrations of traditional culture such as traditional dance, ikebana, taiko drumming, music and calligraphy. I watched a beautiful performance by members of the Hiroko Tanaka Nihon Buyo school.

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Photo: Itsumo Japan

Photo: Itsumo Japan

The matsuri was very busy with both streets packed full of people and long queues at many of the food stalls. The atmosphere, however, was friendly and festive. The delicious and familiar smells and calls of 'irrashaimase' wafting from the stalls made the matsuri feel like a little slice of Japan right there in London. It was wonderful to see so many aspects of modern and traditional Japanese culture on display and so many enthusiastic people, many of which were Japanese, enjoying the day.

For anyone else that went to Japan Matsuri and took lots of pictures - you could enter a photo competition by adding photos to the matsuri's Facebook page. First prize is two return tickets to Japan with JAL while for second and third place and a special award you could win a Nikon Coolpix camera. For more information go to the Japan Matsuri website.

For more of my pictures of the matsuri go to my Flickr page.

2 comments :

Glad to hear you had a great time at the matsuri - it looks so busy and you've captured some lovely pictures of the dancers :) Have you entered the photography competition with any of your pictures? I finally had the opportunity to go this year but ended up wussing out because they were holding it outdoors and I wasn't convinced the weather would hold up ^^; Hopefully next year I'll make my way there at last! :)

Hi again, yes I have entered the photo competition. I don't think I'll win, there are a lot of really good entries, but it's worth a try. Especially for 2 tickets to Japan! It's shame that you didn't go but I know what you mean about the weather, I carried an umbrella around with me all day thinking that it would rain but, like you said, there's always next year.

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