Japanese Culture: Japan in London, Resources for Travelers
Japan in London: Resources for Travelers ロンドン
Joanne G. Yoshida
If you are planning a trip to London and want to find Japan while there, or if you live in London and would like to discover or re-connect with Japan, you can find there is everything from Japan-related events and culture, businesses, language study, education and grant opportunities, to social networks and a thriving international community in London.
Start with Issho ni London and Japanese London.com
Both pages are simple to use and thorough. Click from a "what do you like" pop down menu from Art to Chado to Kimono to Sushi. For example, did you know you can find kaiten sushi in South Kensington, where you can experience 'revolving'-style sushi (known as conveyor-belt sushi) which is popular all over Japan.
You can also find events from A Winter Walk in Wimbledon, to Pub Nights, Business and Social Network Events, Shodo Club London, and tutors to brush up on your language skills, whether English or Japanese.
The sites are created by Vanessa, a japanophile who lived in Tochigi-shi and taught on the JET program. She did an amazing job conceiving and putting these sites together after she returned to London, wanting to keep up her Japan language skills and connections. She shares her findings and creates a growing community on:
The Japan Society was established even before there was a Japan Embassy in London. The main purpose of the Japan Society is to promote understanding and cultural exchange between Britain and Japan. The society had contact with many famous people who visited and studied in Britain since the 1890s, and even received an official permission to use the royal chrysanthemum on its logo.
The Japan Society hosts over one hundred events per year, including an Annual Dinner since 1891, and today has a connection with most anything Japanese going on in London. They also provide sponsorship on a small scale up to about 1000 pounds for projects with a Japan connection. A Japanese festival is held every year in September, and is growing more and more popular each year.
It is a two way street at Japan Society where the goals are both educating Britain about Japan and Japan about Britain. They have a wide range of school programs, including providing free educational materials to schools interested in enhancing their curriculum about Japan; and a program where they link UK schools with schools in Japan. It is a wonderful opportunity for providing and enriching cultural exchange between the two cultures, with 1000s of links between Britain and Japanese schools.
Upcoming events include a Lecture by David Warren, British Ambassador to Tokyo, and a Koshu Wine Tasting at the Imagination Gallery. If you are looking to connect with Japan on any basis - individual, educational, or corporate - be sure to find out what is being offered. Film Screenings, Exhibitions, Lunchtime Business Lectures, and lectures available to all on World Views and Arts and Culture are listed in a Calendar of Events you can find through the Japan Society:
The Japan Society
59 Buckingham Gate
London SW1E 6AJ
Tel: 020 7828 6330
Fax: 020 7828 6331
Japan Foundation, London
6th Floor, Russell Square House, 10-12 Russell Square, London, WC1B 5EH
Tel: 020 7436 6695
Email: info[at]jpf.org.uk (Arts and Culture, Japanese Studies)
Tel: 020 7436 6698
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Language Centre)
Fax: 020 7323 4888
Email: email@example.com (Library)
For Arts and Culture, Language Center, Library, International Exchange, Grants for Japan-related projects, and more.
Upcoming Events include a Touring Film Program: Back to the Future - Japan Cinema since the Mid-90s; Taste of Japan (tasting session of Japanese foods); a lecture on Shunga - the Hidden Importance of Japanese Erotic Art. Definitely check out the diverse programs if you are or will be in London.
101-104 Piccadilly, London W1J 7JT
Open weekdays 09:30 - 17:30, closed weekends
Admission is free, but photo ID is necessary to gain entry to the Embassy
For Embassy Guide, Visa/Certificates, Japan Events in the UK, Education and Scholarships, Current Foreign Policy, Japan-related links.
Recent Events include:
Marking the Centenary: 1910 Japan-British Exhibition on view until February 11, 2011
Visit London's Japanese London Website
Features Japanese Entertainment, Karaoke, Shops, Eating and Drinking, Health and Worship, Museum, as well as a Download-able free Japanese London Guide
Japanese Minka House and Bamboo Garden, Kew Gardens
Japanese Art in London: Museums and Galleries
Presents major exhibitions by leading international artists
Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, through February 6, 2011
Chelsea Space and University of the Arts London, for contemporary international projects featuring artists from around the world
The websites below have Japanese restaurant listings as does the weekly London Time Out magazine.
General Transportation Tips and Observations
You will want to buy an Oyster card for getting around if you plan to use the buses and subways during your visit. These can be purchased at Heathrow Airport, or other transit locations. Each ride is discounted and you can 'top up' at all subway (tube) stations when you run out. You can also use it on the river boat from Westminster to Richmond (pub lunch) and then take the train to Kew Gardens, for example.
If you are familiar with Tokyo's subway system, you might see some similarities when you use the London Tube. Both are organized around the circular route in the center - the Yamanote Line in Tokyo and Circle Line in London, with other clearly color-coded lines branching out in various directions.
Just be careful as there are some quirky places to look out for, such as, on the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow Airport, one train will go to terminals 1,2,3, and 5, but if you are going to Terminal 4 it is a different train. One other bit of advice is to watch the sign on the front of the train as it comes into the station to be sure it's the one you want, as trains do not have their destinations written along the sides of the cars as they do in Tokyo.
London is a great city to walk in and discover it's many small streets and to stroll along the river. You will find it useful to get a London City Map or London A-Z at a kiosk or stationary store.
A great website for planning journeys from one spot to another is Transport for London:
Look for the "Journey Planner" on the sidebar and put in the zip code, address or site name of the two places you wish to travel between ("to" and "from"). Click "Leave Now" to receive a detailed route plan, including subway transfers and neighborhood maps, as well as times of trains and delays if any.
You can also use shared bicycles through Barclays Cycle Hire, where you pick up a bicycle in one location and drop it in another. Information on use can be found at Transport for London's related page
It also may be helpful to know that if you want a bus to stop, when you are at a designated bus stop, you have to put your arm out to signal to the driver.
General Visit London Tips and Links
Even if your focus is on Japan in London, don't miss the London sights. Take a boat trip on the Thames, visit the Tower Bridge, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park (squirrels), Churchill War rooms, Covent Garden, Soho, Piccadilly Circus, Camden Town, Harrods and more.
Be creative and make your own Japan-London combinations; experience the two cultures side by side by visiting the century old Japanese gardens at Hammersmith Park in the morning and a classic English tea in the afternoon.
With or Without a Plan
Thank you to those who offered helpful advice and shared useful tips on my recent trip to London, including: John Toppon of the Japan Society and Nadine from Wolfenbell
The above is just a sampling of the many Japan and related links you can find in London. Follow them to where they branch out and find your own special Japan in London experience - wishing you a happy and safe trip to Japan in London!
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