Japan Matsuri - London's festival of Japanese culture - is back on Saturday 19 September in Trafalgar Square. Make sure you catch the festivities begining at 10am and going through until 8pm. All for FREE!

This year commemorates a special anniversary of 150 years of friendship between London and Japan through the story of the Satsuma Students from Kagoshima. (You can read about their story here.)

In accordance with this year's special celebration, the poster boy for Japan Matsuri is Satsuma Kenshi Hayato (see poster to the right) - a samurai from Kagoshima. Strong and compassionate, he is a lover of Kagoshima’s beautiful landscape, traditions and food. His sword has no lethal blade and any battle is won 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.

Also visiting from Japan is Guribu - Kagoshima’s yurukyara mascot. His name comes from the word guriin (green) and buta (pig): guribu. Kagoshima is famous for its lush vegetation and cuisine of pork from the Berkshire pig (Kagoshima kuro buta). Guribu’s eybrows are just like those of Kagoshima’s revolutionary hero, Saigo Takamori. He’s bold and a bit reckless, but kind and likes his food. He is here in the UK with one his family, Kagobu. Come and join in Guribu’s dance おじゃったもんせ!

The Main Stage will host a variety of acts throughout the day (see below for the timetable), including special guests from Kagoshima, the Izaku Drum Dancers. The Izaku Drum Dancers 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 28 August at Minami Kata Shrine by one of six groups. This year, it is the turn of the group from Iriki, one of the towns in Kagoshima, and they perform this special dance for the first time in Europe at Japan Matsuri.

There will also be a Martial Arts Stage featuring demostrations from karate, aikido, kendo and judo disciplines throughout the day. For the Martial Arts Stage timetable, click here. In addition, you can enjoy the atmosphere with Japanese festival food from numerous stalls around the square, join in the fun in the family activities area with games and kimono-dressing, and try your hand at Japanese cartoons on the manga wall.

Izaku Taiko Odori © Kagoshima Prefecture

Guribu - Kagoshima’s yurukyara mascot

Main Stage Time Table

Thames Taiko
IBUKI: JAPAN MATSURI song with Naomi Suzuki

Opening Ceremony
Teikyo School Mikoshi Procession
Teikyo School Bon Dancers

Green Chorus
Guribu – Kagoshima mascot
Satsuma Kenshi Hayato

IBUKI: JAPAN MATSURI song with Naomi Suzuki
Japanese School Choir
Izaku Taiko Odori (Izaku Drum Dancers)

Guribu – Kagoshima mascot
SOAS Min’yo Group
Eisa Dance – London Bunka Yochien
14:00 Nodo Jiman – The J-Factor Karaoke Contest

British Suzuki Institute
IBUKI: JAPAN MATSURI song with Naomi Suzuki
Hiroko Tanaka Japanese Dancers

Satsuma Kenshi Hayat
Guribu – Kagoshima mascot
Izaku Taiko Odori (Izaku Drum Dancers)
Okinawa Sanshin-kai

Frank Chickens
IBUKI: JAPAN MATSURI song with Naomi Suzuki
Hibiki Ensemble

JDS Crew: Street dance
Reijiro Tsumura – Journey to the Speed of Sound
Guribu – Kagoshima mascot

Izaku Taiko Odori (Izaku Drum Dancers)
Joji Hirota & London Taiko Drummers

Japan Matsuri is organized by Japan Matsuri Ltd. – comprising the Japan Association in the UK, the Japan Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the UK, the Japan Society and the Nippon Club – and also the Embassy of Japan.