Brighton Japan: Eastern influence

Celebrate Japanese culture through art, music, theatre & more at Brighton Japan this September

The growth of Brighton Japan has been something to behold. Five years ago, the redoubtable duo who run Moshimo decided to hold an impromptu one-day Japanese festival in front of their restaurant. With its profusion of stalls selling food ‘n’ things, its exuberant display of cult Japanese street fashion, and its showcasing of the latest – and frankly insane – examples of Japanese music, the festival proved an instant hit.

Like a stroppy adolescent, Brighton Japan has now demanded a bigger bedroom – and has promptly been given one in the form of the Old Steine Gardens, along with some some pretty cool toys to boot.

“We’ve pulled out all the stops for this festival,” says Karl Jones, who runs the festival (and Moshimo) with Nicholas Röhl. Anyone who knows Karl knows that he never does anything by half, so people of Brighton should sit up and take note.

“The new venue has allowed for a bigger and more ambitious programme than ever before,” says Karl.

“For ten days, the Old Steine Gardens will become Japan City”

The ten-day festival will feature a series of nightly events and Supper Clubs, including an extravagant Taiko theatrical performance by Britain’s largest Taiko group (Wednesday 18 September), and two nights of outdoor Japanese film events where people will be able to enjoy bento picnic-style whilst the films play (Friday 13 and Friday 20 September).

The inimitable Dave Broom, one of the leading experts on world whisky and certainly the funniest, will be back again to match some of the finest whiskies on the planet (care of Suntory) with Moshimo’s food (Thursday 19 September). The people who came to this event last year will be back for sure; those who missed it are advised to buy their tickets soon.

The festival sticks its neck out with the High Culture Night, an extraordinary Supper Club featuring the Steinway concert pianist Aisa Ijiri, who will be playing a repetoire of Japan inspired pieces. Accompanying her will be her grandmother, one of the greatest calligraphy artists alive today, who will be presenting her art at the concert along with a rare Cherry Blossom Tea which she will have brought especially for the occasion from her home city Kyoto.

Brighton Japan is taking place at the same time as the Brighton Digital Festival, and the two festivals will be joining forces for what is dubbed the Digital Playground (Tuesday 17 September). Featuring a high-octane Dragons’ Den-style ‘Live Pitch’ event, where games and tech developers pitch for investment, Digital Playground will give people a chance to rub shoulders with some of the biggest names in the industry (including the “father of gaming” Ian Livingstone and billionaire investor Bill Liao) whilst enjoying retro-gaming (care of Marwood’s café), mad Japanese electronica (care of Coppe) and moving images (care of Third Window Films).

As always, the highlight of Brighton Japan will be the two full weekend festivals.
The Japanese Pop Culture Weekend (Saturday 14 and Sunday 15 September) will see thousands of Cosplayers and Japanese Street Fashionistas descend on Brighton for an uproarious celebration of what keeps Japan at the forefront of popular culture across the globe.

Outlandish… whacky… bizarre… words somehow fail to describe this phenomenon in style, where what you wear is who you are. Visual, Oshare, Angura, Cult Party, Fairy or Mori Girl are just some of the fashion cults that will be on show at what has become the largest outdoor Japanese street fashion festival in the UK.

The final weekend of Brighton Japan will see the Old Steine Gardens transformed into a traditional Matsuri festival – taiko drummers will join Okinawan dancers, Enka singers, shakuhachi and shamisen players and martial arts specialists for a colourful exposition of the wonders of one of the world’s greatest cultures.

Don’t miss the J-Rock/Visual Kei concert featuring Esprit D’Air, Of Fire and Fate, and The Asterplace, followed by Harajuku Nights, featuring Area 11, No Cars, and Erika.

Brighton Japan is a reminder (if any were needed) of the extraordinary influence that Japanese culture continues to exert across the world.

Brighton Japan, Friday 13–Sunday 22 September 2013, Old Steine Gardens, Brighton, see the full programme at

Brighton Japan events

Fri 13 September, 7pm
Japanese Horror Double Bill
Tetsuo (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989, 67min, 18 cert); Audition (Takashi Miike, 1999, 115 min, 18 cert)
Two of the scariest horror films ever made, with a Bento picnic.

Sat 14–Sun 15 September, from 11.30am
Japanese Popular Culture Weekend
Two days of outrageous Cosplay and Japanese street fashion, with Japanese rock music ‘til late.

Mon 16 September, 7pm
Japanese High Culture Night
MOSHIMO Supper Club with performance and music

Tues 17 September, from 4pm
Digital Playground
A heady mix of far-out digital entertainment, retro-gaming, with a chance to meet some of the biggest names in gaming industry.

Wed 18 September, 7.30pm
Taiko Theatre by Taiko Meantime
UK’s largest taiko dumming group gives the performance of a lifetime.

Thu 19 September, 7pm
Japanese Whisky Tasting with Dave Broom
Some of the best whiskies on earth, matched
with food.

Fri 20 September, from 4pm­
Studio Ghibli/Miyazaki Double Bill
Ponyo (Miyazaki, 2009, 101 min, U)
Spirited Away (Miyazaki, 122 min, PG)
Two films from the master of Japanese animation with Bento picnic

Sat 21–Sun 22 September, from 11.30am
MOSHIMO Matsuri Weekend Festival
Two-day street festival of Japanese music, performances, workshops, and games.

Sun 22 September, 11.30am & 2.30pm
Tales from Old Japan
Three enchanting Japanese stories are brought to life through puppetry and music. (Studio Theatre, Brighton Dome.)

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