Everyone with an interest in Japanese culture in the UK owes in some way a small debt of gratitude to Akemi Solloway. As something of an un-official abbassador she has been instrumental in proliferating Japanese culture, both ancient and modern, in the UK and I am sure many of you here will have attended the bi-annual Japanese Art Festival in the past.
This year the event is bigger than ever with appearances from one of our fashion favorites 6%dokidoki designer Masuda Sebastien who will be hosting a discussion on Kawaii Culture as well as a Harajuku Fashion Show. Acclaimed modern Kimono designer Yumi Yamamoto will also be exhibiting her work as will the best that the Gothic Lolita Scene in the UK has to offer. Needless to say there is also a healthy dose of classical Japanese culture to experience alongside Anime screenings, Manga workshops and Cosplay Masquerades. In short whatever your inclination I think Akemi has got you covered.
We sat down with the lady herself and asked her for her perspective on the UK scene
As someone who has been instrumental in proliferating Japanese culture in the UK would you say that there is a generation gap in the aspects of culture that lure people to Japan?
Manga and Anime fans are interested in Japanese culture. This means younger people are more interested in Japanese culture in U.K.
You are obviously well versed in all aspects of traditional Japanese art and culture, how then do you feel about the ever increasing tendency in the West to equate Japan with Anime and Manga?
First they are intersted in Anime and Manga, then culture. Then they discover art , cinema, martial art, etc.
Is there aspect of Japanese culture, ancient or modern that you would hope foreigners would take a greater interest in?
Yes, 15th century’s tea ceremony ( Cha-do) and 10th century’s scent ceremony ( Ko-do).
Do you think the global recession and high Yen has effected interest in Japan?
I do not think this connects a lot.
Here at Tokyo Telephone we are very excited about the Japanese Art Festival, what are you looking forward to in particular this year?
We charge £5 for entry. This is the fifth time of the festival. Before we did this event free. I would like to see how many people will come.
It is clear to see Akemi’s passion for the promotion of the best in Japanese culture, which is obviously something that rings true here at Tokyo Telephone towers. It is great to see someone so positive about the various means by which people get interested in Japan, while some may have been introduced to the country through Manga, some may have come through fashion, but the important thing is that it has opened up a whole new realm of cultural awareness independent of the original interest. I also can’t help but agree that the global recession has not effected the level of interest in Japan, it may have been detrimental to various businesses and publishers, but the enthusiasm for Japan clearly remains as strong as ever in the UK. As for the scent ceremony (Ko-do) – that is something that I will have to research on my own! Thanks for the recommendation! We are very excited about going this weekend and we hope to meet up with some of our readers here and look out for our interview with the Lolita’s from the fashion show later this month.
Samuel and Rebecca