On Sunday 20 January, Japan Society held a private view of Once Only Only Once, the exhibition by Karen Knorr at White Conduit Projects in Angel, north London.

The London-based artist gave a brief talk about her work, which she developed and produced after a visit to Obai-in temple in Kyoto to meet artist, calligrapher and head priest Tagen Kobayashi. The exhibition brings together a series of her photographic works as free-standing Byobu screens, which were specially produced by local artisan Heiando, as well as a number of framed photographic prints.

The images depict birds and animals in the temple settings. There were questions from the audience: why she chose those particular birds and animals – many of the birds she photographed were the birds that migrate across Asia, which also are symbolic in Japanese culture. Karen often uses animals as metaphors of the “natural world” as opposed to civilisation, and in this work, the animals are depicted as if they are super natural beings, which stroll around in temples, or mythic characters in stories such as the Tale of Genji.

The artist also went on to explain how she would make many visits over the years since her initial visit in 2012, having seen the devastating coverage from the earthquake and tsunami in east Japan in 2011.

The exhibition goes on at White Conduit Projects until Sunday 27 January


Monogatari Series, Once Only Only Onc (©) Karen Knorr. Courtesy of the artist


Please click on the image to enlarge


© Karen Knorr

© Karen Knorr


Usagi image

28 November 2014 to 4 January 2015

Southwark Playhouse
77-85 Newington Causeway
London SE1 6BD

17th Century Japan – a world of bandit raccoons, feline ninjas and warring animal clans. A young rabbit leaves his home, family and friends behind him in pursuit of one ambition: to become a great samurai warrior. But as war engulfs the land, he must make a choice that will test his loyalty, honour and dearest friendship.

Southwark Playhouse are offering Japan Society members a special price of £12 (normally £18) for this celebration of the 30th anniversary of Stan Sakai’s epic award-winning comic book series, Usagi Yojimbo. To claim your discount, quote ‘JAPAN‘ when calling the Southwark Playhouse box office or booking online.

The discount is valid for performances from 5 December to 4 January, and tickets must be booked by 30 November.

For more information please click here.


Tuesday 29 July 2014              6.30pm

Clifford Chance
10 Upper Bank Street
London E14 5JJ

(Nearest underground: Canary Wharf – 10 mins from Waterloo, Jubilee line)

Free admission
Book online here

The Canadian High Commission and the Japan Society invite you to an evening of rakugo; comic storytelling from Japan with Canada’s own Katsura Sunshine. We are very grateful to Clifford Chance for hosting this event.

Rakugo is an ancient form of comic storytelling in Japan, still very much alive and well, with over 700 professional storytellers practicing today in the two main traditions of storytelling, that of Tokyo ‘Edo’ and Osaka ‘Kamigata’. Toronto-born Katsura Sunshine is the first ever Western rakugo storyteller in the history of the ‘Kamigata’ tradition, and the only Western professional rakugo storyteller today. A regular on Japanese television, Sunshine will be appearing at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

“Hilarious. Charming. Traditional. Universally funny and yet so very Japanese.” – EFF

Sunshine Katsura studied classics at the University of Toronto, where he got his first introduction to the works of the Ancient Greek comic playwright, Aristophanes, under the renowned scholar of ancient comedy, Eric Csapo. He became involved in translating, adapting, and performing in versions of Aristophanes’ comedies for the Department of Classics. On September 1st , 2008, Sunshine was accepted as an apprentice to the great Rakugo storytelling master, Katsura Bunshi VI, and subsequently received the name Katsura Sunshine. In the Rakugo tradition, he received both his master’s last name and part of the first (his master, Sanshi combined the first part of his name, ‘San’, meaning ‘Three’, with the Japanese word for ‘Shine’, and gave it the Japanese pronunciation of the English word ‘Sunshine’).

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996 or email events@japansociety.org.uk or submit the online booking form.

In association with:



Kunisada – Picture of actors at the calligraphy and painting party held at Mampachiro (Mampachiro-jo shoga-kaiseki no zu), Surimono, 1827

Wednesday 23 July 2014              10.45am
(meet outside the Southern Courtyard Entrance to the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge)*

The Fitzwilliam Museum
Trumpington St
Cambridge CB2 1RB


Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR

Free for Japan Society members (excludes the price of lunch)


*Anyone attending the day that would like to travel with Japan Society staff from King’s Cross Station should notify the office when booking

The Japan Society is organising a special visit to two Japanese archives in Cambridge, the Japanese print collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Japanese Department at Cambridge University Library. Members will make their own way to and from Cambridge (unless otherwise requested), allowing them to explore the town at their leisure following the day’s programme of events.

The Fitzwilliam’s extensive collection contains prints that have been used in headline exhibitions, such as Snow Country: Woodcuts of the Japanese Winter in 2013, alongside others rarely displayed. Japan Society members will have the opportunity to meet with the Fitzwilliam’s print curator, Craig Hartley, and explore a selection from the Museum’s archives, including the work of Kitagawa Utamaro, Tsukioka Yoshitoshi and Utagawa Kunisada.

Following a break for lunch at the famous Fitzbillies Cafe, members will continue onto Cambridge University Library to join Noboru Koyama, Head of the Japanese Department, for a tour of the archive. We will examine some of the items in the collection, many of which regularly feature in museum exhibits, such as the current Buddha’s Word: The Life of Books in Tibet and Beyond at the Museum of Archeology and Anthropology.

Don’t miss this chance to see behind-the-scenes at two outstanding collections.

Programme summary

10.45am – meet outside the Fitzwilliam Museum
(Southern Courtyard Entrance – see website for directions)
11.00am – tour of the Japanese print collection
12.30am – optional lunch at Fitzbillies Cafe
2.10pm – tour of Cambridge University Library’s archives
3.30pm – finish

All details will be confirmed on booking.

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Thursday 3 July 2014                           6.45pm

The Swedenborg Society
20-21 Bloomsbury Way (Hall entrance on Barter St)
London WC1A 2TH

For a PDF map of the venue please click here


Nearest underground station: Holborn
Light refreshments will be provided

We are delighted to welcome Noriko Tsuchiya, author of a new British Museum publication Netsuke: 100 miniature masterpieces from Japan, and art dealer Max Rutherston to speak at this special event. They will discuss the history of netsuke, the small toggles intricately carved from various materials including ivory, wood and metal, and how they evolved from relatively insignificant objects to artistic treasures prized by collectors around the world. Uncovering the story of specific pieces and their individual and contextual significance, this talk will provide an insight into the world of netsuke from creation to collection.

To coincide with the publication of the book, between 19 June and 17 August the British Museum is holding a special exhibition of the finest pieces from its 2300-strong collection of netsuke, placing them in their original context as worn accessories.

Noriko Tsuchiya is a Project Curator at the British Museum. Together with external experts, she examined all the netsuke in the British Museum’s collection and identified the top 100 for inclusion in this new publication.

Max Rutherston is Chairman of Max Rutherston Ltd, an Asian art dealership that specialises in netsuke. He has had strong links with the Japanese art world since the mid-90s when he was head of Sotheby’s Japanese Department. In November 2010 he was joint organiser with Rosemary Bandini of the London Netsuke Symposium, after which the two of them went into business together as Rutherston & Bandini Ltd., a dynamic partnership which rapidly established itself as a major force in the netsuke field. In the summer of 2013, they organised the International Netsuke Society’s Convention in London.

Copies of Netsuke: 100 miniature masterpieces from Japan will be available to purchase on the night at the discounted price of £10  (RRP £14.99)


On Monday 14 April, David Hale led Japan Society members on a visual pilgrimage into the past, tracing the history of ceramics production in Tohoku from the 1960s and 70s through to the post-March 2011 era.

The objects and individuals David has chronicled form an invaluable insight into the craft history of a region often overlooked. Below is a selection of photographs from the evening’s presentation.


Tuesday 8 April 2014                       6.00 – 8.00pm
(drinks reception from 7.00pm)

The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation
13 / 14 Cornwall Terrace
London NW1 4QP

Free to attend
Booking online via the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation

Copies of The art lover’s guide to Japanese museums will be available to purchase at the event

The Japan Society is delighted to announce the London launch of a new publication on Japanese art museums by Sophie Richard.

The museums of Japan feature rich collections and excellent exhibitions in world-class galleries. Yet they can be difficult to navigate without first-hand knowledge. The art lover’s guide to Japanese Museums acts as a personal guide, introducing readers to some of the most distinctive and inspiring museums in the country. In depth information is given about each listed venue, including the story behind their creation. From magnificent traditional arts to fascinating artist’s houses and from sleek contemporary museums to idiosyncratic galleries, museums are the perfect gateway to discover Japan’s culture both past and present.

Sophie Richard is a freelance art historian. Educated at the Ecole du Louvre and the Sorbonne in Paris, she worked in the art world in New York before moving to London where she is now based. She has travelled to Japan many times during the last 10 years. Passionate about Japanese arts and culture, she set to explore the country’s many museums. In the course of her research she has interviewed museum curators and directors, visiting over 100 venues across the country. Her articles on Japanese museums have appeared in magazines in America and the United Kingdom. Her first book, The art lover’s guide to Japanese Museums, was published by the Japan Society in February 2014.

Click here to be re-directed to the booking page

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Some photos from yesterday’s rehearsals in Fukushima in preparation for the Sinfonietta’s performance at the Southbank Centre on Wednesday 2 April.

Find out more about the event here


Sunday 23 March 2014                4.00pm

Duke of York Square (Off Sloane Square)
London SW3 4LY

£15 for Japan Society members and their guests
(includes admission, afternoon cream tea, the talk, a BADA Handbook and a voucher for a return visit the following day)

Booking essential – book online here
Booking deadline – Wednesday 19 March

An afternoon cream tea and a special talk at the British Antique Dealers’ Association Annual Fair has been organised for Society members and their guests. A visit to the fair is a must for anyone interested in art and antiques: where a dazzling array of top quality furniture, paintings, clocks, ceramics, jewellery and silver can be viewed and bought.

The great attraction of this annual visit is the easy access to the stands of 90 of the best art and antique dealers in the UK. It is all beautifully laid out and presented.

The BADA Fair has very kindly arranged a special talk for Japan Society members on ‘The World of Antique Collecting’ at which helpful hints and suggestions will be made by Lennox Cato, an exhibitor and specialist on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

The fair is open to the public each day at 11.00am from Wednesday 19 March to Tuesday 25 March 2014. Members who book this event and pay in advance through the Society can enter any time after 11.00am on 23 March, pick up their ticket(s) from the ticket desk in Reception, and receive their copy of the BADA Handbook, together with a re-entry pass to revisit the fair on Monday or Tuesday. Members wanting to step out of the Fair during the course of the day on Sunday, should ask for a ‘same day re-entry pass’ from Security as they exit. The Event ticket is valid for the talk and a traditional cream tea in the Cellini Restaurant.

To reserve your place, please call the Japan Society office on 020 3075 1996, email events@japansociety.org.uk or submit the online booking form.

In association with:








Monday 3 February 2014                                5.00pm

The Embassy of Japan
101-104 Piccadilly
London W1J 7JT

Free for Japan Society members
Embassy security policy requires that all guests bring a form of photographic ID


For a special edition of the Japan Society Book Club, members will be joined by award-winning translator Damian Flanagan for a tour of the Embassy of Japan’s new exhibition on the Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki. The exhibition features assorted artefacts from Soseki’s time in London as a government scholar. Flanagan will discuss these alongside his translation of The Tower of London: And Other Stories, Soseki’s reflections on his two years in the city.

From the novelist’s personal meishi holder, to letters to his wife and reading materials from his last lodgings in Clapham, the exhibition provides a glimpse into an extraordinary period in the novelist’s life.

Copies of The Tower of London: And Other Stories can be purchased here.
For the Japanese original, please follow this link.

Damian Flanagan read English Literature at Cambridge University, then did an MA and PhD in Japanese Literature at Kobe University. As well as authoring or co-authoring seven books on Japanese literature, Damian’s  articles on Japanese politics, arts and society have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers throughout Japan including Newsweek and the Nihon Keizai Shinbun. He is currently working on his own fiction and divides his time between a home in Manchester, England with a garden full of squirrels and a house in Nishinomiya, Japan, with a view of a centuries-old tree.

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