The Matsuri festival took place in Trafalgar Square this weekend. The annual festival, started in 2009 to introduce Japanese culture to British people, is organised by Japanese expatriates living in Britain. Last year’s festival attracted at least 80,000 visitors. Visitors experienced Japanese food, music and dance at the event in Trafalgar Square.
2013 is an important year for Britain’s, and London’s, connection with Japan as the first British trading post was established in the country exactly 400 years ago. The first British exports to Japan, back in 1613, were bales of woollen cloth and telescopes. 150 years ago five young Japanese samurai came to study in London at University College London (UCL). They were the first Japanese to go to university in the UK and became known as the Chōshū Five. Two of the five, Itō Shunsuke (later Ito Hirobumi), and Inoue Monta (later Inoue Kaoru), became Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Japan.
Today, overall British exports to Japan are worth close on £10bn each year, split roughly equally between goods and services. That makes Japan the UK’s 13th biggest export market. The EU is Japan’s third largest trade partner after China and the United States.
Highlights from this year’s festival included: the vigorous rhythms of Tsugaru-jamisen with Hibiki Ichikawa, outstanding koto virtuosity from composer Enokido Fuyuki, Lolita fashion show from the Tea Party Club, the violins of the children of the British Suzuki Institute, ceremonial samurai armour with Usagi Juku from Kyoto, precision drumming from Joji Hirota London Taiko Drummers and the spectacular award-winning multi-media technodelic comedy performances.
“The Japanese community in London is well-established with strong historical roots and this is a significant year for London’s connection with Japan,” commented Japan Matsuri Ltd, which organises the event. This is no understatement. It is estimated that there are now over double the number of Japanese expats living in London than in New York. London has the biggest Japanese expat community in Europe.
At TJC Global, we have successfully provided Japanese interpreters in London for over 25 years. London’s large Japanese expat community, coupled with London’s position as a major international business centre, means that the demand for Japanese interpreting services has increased.
As such, we wish the Matsuri festival many more years of continued success!
Sources used include: The Mastsuri Festival and ITN News
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