This September sees the return of the JAPAN MATSURI to Trafalgar Square, London. The annual event features a variety of stage performances, singers, Japanese food, stalls and much more!

This year marks a special anniversary celebrating 150 years of friendship between London and Japan. In 1865, students from the province of Satsuma (present-day Kagoshima) arrived in the UK to study – a scheme that was conducted in secrecy as travel overseas was still forbidden by the shogunate at the time. This pioneering plan helped in the process to build friendly relationships between the UK and Japan.

In celebration of this historic event, the Japan Matsuri will be hosting special appearances from a number of acts from Kagoshima. This includes the spectacular Izaku Taiko Odori (Izaku Drum Dancers), the brave samurai character Satsuma Kenshi Hayato and Guribu, Kagoshima’s yurukyara mascot.

The Japan Matsuri will be running two stages on the day to pack in a full schedule of performances, including taiko drumming, festival dance, martial arts displays and the popular Nodojiman karaoke contest.
Naomi Suzuki will also once again be returning in her role as host and singer of this years Japan Matsuri Theme Song. Naomi has been part of the Japan Matsuri since the first event 7 years ago, but has carved out her own career as both a solo singer and also as part of the musical duo AJ Unity. This years Japan Matsuri song will be ‘IBUKI’ (Breath) which will also have footage shot at the Matsuri as part of its music video. If you would like to be part of the video then come to the main stage during the filming sessions (show times will be 10am ,12pm, 3pm and 5pm) where Naomi will ask you to dance and be part of the ‘IBUKI’ music video.

Aside from the stage performances, the Japan Matsuri will also be hosting the popular manga wall (giving budding artists the opportunity to display their talents in front of the National Gallery), origami workshops, Japanese calligraphy as well as plenty of Japanese food stalls.

Image courtesy of dydo-matsuri.com
Image courtesy of dydo-matsuri.com

The Izaku Drum Dancers from Kagoshima in southern Japan continue a tradition passed down through many generations. It is the vigorous victory dance of Shimazu Hisayoshi dating from 1406 with the dancers closely resembling warriors of the time.

Each drum dancer wears a banner of bamboo and paper, 2.5 m tall, strapped to his back, is adorned with the black tail feathers of the Satsuma rooster and beats a drum fixed to his chest. Each outfit weighs nearly 20 kilos. The dance is performed each year on 28th August at Minami Kata Shrine by one of six groups. This year, it is the turn of the group from Iriki. As a result, Japan Matsuri is delighted to welcome Izaku Drum Dancers (Iriki Group) to London in this special year for Kagoshima-London relations.


Satsuma Kenshi Hayato is a samurai from Kagoshima. He is strong and compassionate, a lover of Kagoshima’s beautiful landscape, traditions and food. His sword has no lethal blade and he defeats his enemies through mutual understanding and a meeting of minds.

He is joined on his first trip out of Asia by Yassembo, the mischievous fox spirit, who is always looking to misbehave and ways to trick our Satsuma hero.

Japan Matsuri takes place on 19th September 2015 at Trafalgar Square, London. 10am to 8pm. Entry to the event is free.