Japan: Kingdom of Characters

4 February 2012 – 24 June 2012

Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich

This vibrant exhibition offers the chance to encounter characters from television, computer games and comics. Many have become much loved household names around the world.

Kingdom of Characters comes to the Sainsbury Centre following displays in Manila and Sydney. Providing an overview of manga and anime through the second half of the 20th century, the exhibition provides a unique insight into this cultural phenomenon.

It will also give fans the chance to come face-to-face with some of their favourite characters, including humansized Ultraman, Pikachu and a Hello Kitty ‘skipping’ through the gallery.

As well as 3D characters, the exhibition includes graphic illustrations and even a room-set of a teenager’s Hello Kitty bedroom. The set has also been specially designed by the Sainsbury Centre to allow younger visitors the chance to peep into the room, which is decorated with merchandise featuring Kitty in her many manifestations, from duvetcover to alarm clock. Anime screenings and graphic illustrations are included in the exhibition and create a context for the visiting characters.

The exhibition asks some thought-provoking questions about what characters are, why they are so popular and how they have become central to everyday life within contemporary Japanese society. The exhibition also considers ideas such as the importance of characters as design products.

 For more information, please click here.

A Japanese Play Reading in English: Getting Lost

24 November 2011 from 6.30pm

The Japan Foundation, London
Russell Square House
10-12 Russell Square
London, WC1B 5EH

Japanese contemporary performance has been plunged into a very interesting and exciting phase, breeding many different styles from the younger generation who are quite often free from existing codes. The Japan Foundation once again looks at a leading example of a Japanese contemporary play by award-winning playwright Shiro Maeda, who is believed to have been instrumental in leading performing arts in Japan into a new phase. This play reading of Getting Lost will offer to a UK audience the first chance to experience, in English, this piece of very recent high-calibre Japanese theatre.

The Play
Michiru Suzuki is 30, and struggling: with Tokyo, with her parents, her sister, her ex and current boyfriend, and with her unborn child. The play involves these characters, in situations both real and conceived, exploring contemporary Tokyo and its society. One day, unsure about where she is going in her disorientated life, she turns to her sister who was never born, to consult…
At turns surreal, irreverent, and darkly comic, Maeda explores that contemporary malaise: being ‘lost’ in the metropolis. Running initially in the Mini Theatre at Tokyo Metropolitan Art Space, the play was received with great appreciation by audiences and critics alike in Japan, being performed a total of 15 times to more than 2100 people.

The Playwright
Born in Tokyo in 1977, writer, director and actor Shiro Maeda has engaged as a director and/or actor in more than 40 productions since forming the theatre company GOTANNDADAN in 1997. Winning the 52nd Kishida Drama Award for his script Isn’t Anyone Alive? (2007), he achieved further success with his highly recognised work Suteru Tabi(2008), which was performed both in Japan and abroad. The playwright’s acclaimed career took a new journey with his production Getting Lost (2010), which offered the audience a striking new perspective.

This event is free to attend but booking is essential. To reserve a place, please email your name and the title of the event you would like to attend to event@jpf.org.uk.