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.

Check out the event at www.japaneseartfestival.com and find out more about Akemi Solloway here.

Samuel and Rebecca
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  1. brad-t says:

    Very cool. Thanks for reminding me of the high yen, haha 🙁

    We should organize some meeting before this festival, I’m going on the 21 🙂

  2. tokyotelephone says:

    Well yes, the Yen is pretty terrifying for us as well. But we battle on, I remember well when it was 230+ yen to the pound. It just made everything so accessibly cheap. Good times, I am glad I got to live those days and fill my wardrobe with stuff that the price of which would now make me shudder!

    As for this weekend, it is looking like it is going to be impossible to meet up on the 21st – how are you for the Sunday? We are both going to be around the festival all day then so we could definitely meet up.

  3. brad-t says:

    I’m flying back to Canada on Sunday morning 🙁

  4. tokyotelephone says:

    Damn, that is a real shame. I was looking forward to actually meeting you!

    But we should definitely do an interview with you soon. It would be great to get another male perspective on Japanese fashion and style in general.

    Really hope you are enjoying the (rather cold) UK and we will meet eventually.


  5. brad-t says:

    mann, why are you busy tomorrow? are you not going to the festival then?

  6. tokyotelephone says:

    I am going on Sunday, but something has come up for Saturday that I really can’t get out of. Sorry man, but I really can’t.

  7. brad-t says:

    Damn, that really sucks. I probably won’t go now.

  8. tokyotelephone says:

    Shame, well as way of an apology I can offer you my mini guide to good places in London for Japanese related fashion if you are going to be there –

    Japan Centre and Mitsukoshi – have a fair selection of Japanese books and magazines.
    Vivienne Westwood flagship.
    Poison Angel near South Kensington carry a couple of Japanese brands like Yasuyuki Ishii and some seriously expensive LA brands.
    Crazy Pig Designs and Great Frog are the places to go for silver. Great shops, plus it is over half the price those brands sell for in Japan.

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