Category Archives: Art

Stu Gibson Photo Exhibition @ Cafe Foodelica; January 15th – 25th

Our friends at Cafe Foodelica will be hosting an exhibition of Scottish photographer Stu Gibson’s Kyoto images from January 15th to the 25th.


Here’s the schedule of special events:
17th January from 7pm: Stu Gibson Solo Photo Exhibit Opening Party
24th January from 5pm: Stu Gibson Solo Photo Exhibit Meet the Artist event.

Cafe Foodelica is situated near Shugakuin station. Here is a MAP.

For more images of closely observed Kyoto, check out Stu Gibson’s portfolio here: Life Through A Lens.

Sanka’s Winter Ritual: A Mixed Media Performance by Ensō Watt @ Urbanguild; January 25th

I am very excited to learn that Ensō Watt’s Rite of Winter will be performed at Urbanguild on January 25th 2015! This is the third in Ensō Watt’s series celebrating the 100th anniversary of Stravinski’s Rite of Spring.  I attended the Rite of Autumn in October and it was fantastic. Be prepared to be thoroughly immersed in a world of intense colours, poetry, music and myth!

Sanka's winter ritual
Date: Sunday, January 25th
Doors Open:
Show Starts:
Tickets on the door:
2600 yen
Tickets in advance:
2000 yen
Student Tickets:
1500 yen
(all tickets include one drink)

About Ensō Watt:
Initiated in 2014 by the sound designer Samuel André, the Ensō Watt artist collective is born in Kyoto from the encounter of artists coming from different countries and raised in entirely different artistic universe, from classical music to electro, improvisation and sound design.

The Seasonal Rites:
A hundred years after Stravinsky’s revolutionary “Rites of Spring,” the members of this artistic collaboration pursue the experience-cum-experiment by focusing on Japan’s seasonal cycles, especially celebrated by the little-known mountainous tribe, the Sanka.

The Show:
The music is inspired by the poetry of Chris Mosdell; it navigates between improvisation and conducted improvisation live by Yannick Paget, based on scored music’s elements. The performers, positioned in the audience, generate an immersive, musical surround-experience (broadcast on 4 speakers). More than just a musical experiment, the event is also shot live via a series of 6 cameras, and is processed and projected on 2 screens during the performance.

city that silk builtThe Poet:
Incidentally, the poet Chris Mosdell has just released a wonderful bilingual book of poems written in Kyoto entitled The City That Silk Built. Chris was kind enough to send me a copy and though I haven’t had time to look at it properly yet, what I have seen looks marvellous. I shall review it in good time, but for now, you can take a look at it on

For more information on the show:
Press contact: Marguerite Paget: mgtpaget[at] / 090 6556 1974
Event coordination: Samuel André: sandre.constellation[at]

See also the following sites:
Chris Mosdell:
Yannick Paget:
Samuel André:
Ensō Watt:

And my short review of the last Ensō Watt performance here: Pictures from Sanka’s Autumn Ritual by Ensō Watt

Handel’s Messiah ~ The 50th Christmas Concert from Doshisha

Every year Doshisha University puts on a Christmas performance of Handel’s masterpiece, “Messiah”, at Kyoto Concert Hall and this year is the 50th!

The annual All Doshisha Messiah Concert is hugely popular with members of the local community, as well as with the students, graduates, teachers and staff of Doshisha…. All the performers do their best to make it a Christmas to remember.

All Doshisha Messiah Concert 24th December 2014
Doors open: 17:00
Show begins: 18:00
(B seats open from 16:30)

Place: Kyoto Concert Hall [Access]
S seats [Should be reserved in advance]:2000円
A seats [Should be reserved in advance]:1500円
B seats [Can be bought on the day]:1000円

Tickets can be bought via
Ticket Pia: TEL 0570-02-9999コード 243-954)
Kyoto Concert Hall Ticket Agency: TEL 075-711-3090
Doshisha University Co-operative: TEL 0774-65-8376
Or reserved online: here.

Inquiries (in Japanese) to:
All Doshisha Messiah Concert Committee (全同志社メサイア演奏会実行委員会) TEL 080-3864-2412 (Ibuki)

Please check the Christmas Concert website for further details (Japanese):

Bliki Circus Are Back on Stage at Urbanguild on December 18th!!

After a two year hiatus – Bliki Circus are back!

Bliki flyer

Bliki Circus is an acoustic gypsy/punk group in Kyoto, Japan. Their music is reminiscent of traditional folk music from Japan, Eastern Europe and Russia, spiced with touches of Klezmer, tango, jazz, rock, and punk, and whatever else comes up.

If you have seen Bliki Circus before, you know you are ensured a great night out! If you haven’t, take my word for it! Don’t miss this show if you get the chance!

Date: Thursday December 18th
Doors Open: 18:30
Show Starts: 19:00
Charge: 2000 yen
Tickets in Advance: 1800 yen
All tickets include one drink order.

Location: UrBANGUILD. From Sanjo Dori go down Kiyamachi Dori. This is the narrow street running alongside Takase stream. Urbanguild is on the east side (left hand side as you walk down from Sanjo). Walk approximately 150 metres. Its on the 3rd floor of the New Kyoto Building – access by elevator or stairs. Here is a MAP.

bliki flyer reverse
See also: Images and Sound from Bliki Circus

Whisper of the Land – Visions of Japan: Ed Levinson Talk & Book Signing

Here’s an upcoming event of interest hosted by Cafe Foodelica.


Edward Levinson is an American photographer and writer living in Japan for 35 years. He will be speaking about his approach to photography, writing, and life with visual examples and readings from his new book of essays “Whisper of the Land”. The talk will be mainly in English with a little Japanese as necessary. Signed copies of his books will be available for purchase.

Date & Time: Sunday December 14th 16:00–18:00
Admission: ¥1000, including coffee or tea and snack.
RSVP to 075-703-5203 or foodelica[at] by December 13th, 8pm please.

ed pic

Deep Nara #1 – Kojiki Exhibition

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Last month Mewby and I went down to Nara and took in the Kojiki exhibition currently ongoing at Nara Prefectural Art Museum. I would happily recommend the exhibition as a fascinating and comprehensive exploration of every aspect of Japan’s oldest book. Whether, you are interested in the deepest roots of Japanese culture, ancient mythology and the glorious art it has inspired, or in the very dodgy political interpretations that have attached themselves to the book, it’s all there for you in the Kojiki exhibition. I wrote a bit about it for John Dougill’s Green Shinto blog, and he was kind enough to post my review today.

八岐大蛇退治図 鈴木松年 - Susanoo slays the eight headed dragon. Suzuki Shonen, 1871.

八岐大蛇退治図 鈴木松年 – Susanoo slays the eight headed dragon. Suzuki Shonen, 1871.

The Kojiki or Record of Ancient Matters is a collection of myths detailing the creation of the Japanese archipelago, along with stories of the first Gods, heroes and emperors. Compiled in 712 it is the oldest book in Japanese. It is also notoriously difficult to read, even in translation. The exhibition’s own stated aim is to overcome this difficulty and help the visitor to look beyond the text’s ancient language and obscure cosmological convictions, to the lives and emotions of the people from whose culture these legends sprang. To do this they have gathered art and archaeological materials from city museums and private locations across Japan that provide a thoroughly immersive Kojiki experience. The result is a comprehensive overview of this book’s place in Japan’s cultural history. We spent a good afternoon at the exhibition learning that the text of the Kojiki, and its mythological contents, have been not only a rich source of creative inspiration, but also historically of propaganda and political influence. In both regards it is a fascinating story!

You can read the rest of this article here:

The good news is that the Kojiki exhibition is FREE for foreigners, but you’d better be quick as it finishes on December 14th. You can find more details in Japanese and a map to the Museum are here:

See also: Songs and Stories of the Kojiki retold by Yoko Danno

Contemporary Ink Painting Exhibition @ Kyoto Prefectural Center for Arts & Culture

sumiThe Kyoto Contemporary Ink Painting (京都現代水墨選抜展) began today at Kyoto Prefectural Center for Arts & Culture (京都府立文化芸術会館). Our friend, the sumi artist Christine Flint Sato, has a work on display there so I thought I would pop in and have  look. Expecting typical sumi works in black and white I was surprised at how colorful many of the works were.

While I was there a lady asked me if any of the works had impressed me at all, and I immediately pointed to an atmospheric painting of a passage through the woods. The lady was very happy to hear this, for by pure chance that was her very own painting!


Nagara Yasuko and her work 秋 麗 or “Autumn Grace”

I was taken aback when she told me she had only been practicing ink painting for a year or two. All credit to her teacher Okada Ikuko pictured below with her work 明日へ, “For Tomorrow”.


Twenty-three works are on display by twenty-three artists, and they display a wide variety of style and theme. If you are in the area, it is certainly worth a look. The exhibition is free to enter and continues until December 7th.
Kyoto Prefectural Center for Arts & Culture is on the west side of Kawaramachi just below Imadegawa. Here is a MAP.

Brian Williams Exhibition at Takashimaya, Kyoto; 11/26 – 12/2

On my way home from work earlier today, I stopped off to admire a magnificent display of golden autumn leaves at Nishi-Hongan-ji.

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When I got home I found in my mailbox the following flyer from Brian Williams, featuring his painting of the very same tree!

IMG_0466 (Medium)

And from the very same angle! Serendipitous in the extreme! Well, Brian’s wonderful paintings are now on display on the 6th floor of Takashimaya in Kyoto until December 2nd. Brian himself says,


It’s my own little triennalle at Kyoto Takashimaya again… This time with a focus on the grand old capital itself: over half the works are views of Kyoto. In an unexpected wrinkle, the store has asked me to give a gallery talk in English, at 4 pm on Saturday the 29th. It would be nice to see you, either then or at any time during the show. I’ll be there every day, ready to give you a wave. And my parabolic paintings will wave at you too.

brian in actionYou can find a map and other details about Takashimaya Kyoto here: 高島屋京都店

To learn more about Brian’s parabolic paintings visit his site here: Brian’s Eye
Or you can read this article I wrote about him here: The Artist Brian Williams

UPDATE 2/12/14:  I popped in to see Brian on the last day of his exhibition today and found Robert Yellin admiring the very same painting of Nishi-Hongan-ji’s gingko tree. “You can feel the sunlight!” he enthused. And here are we three, with the tree, infused with Brian’s light.


Christine Flint Sato’s Sumi Workbook & November Workshop

sumi workbook coverWell-known British sumi artist Christine Flint Sato has recently published a wonderfully accessible Sumi Workbook which presents a complete introductory course for anyone who would like to try their hands at the traditional sumi ink arts of calligraphy or brushed ink painting. Having studied these arts herself for over thirty years and taught workshops in both Japan and the UK, Christine has now come up with an innovative method of teaching and practice that stresses the meditative, experimental, and playful aspects of these arts. If you would like to enter into a new artistic venture and learn a little more about Japanese culture,  then this book could be the right entry point for you. I’ve read the book and can highly recommend it, but don’t take my word for it. Two opportunities are coming up to meet the lady in person!

If you would like to meet Christine, this coming Sunday (November 2nd), she will be at the International Exhibition of Art and Design being held in the annex of the Kyoto Municipal Museum of Art. Her work will also be on display there, so if you have an interest in taking up the sumi arts this may inspire you. Christine will be there from 13:00 until 16:00. Here is a MAP to the location.

Christine will also be teaching a Sumi Arts Workshop in Nara on November 30th. The details are below… Take it away Christine!


Sumi Workshop Nov 30th 11:00 am – 4:00 pm

Come and enjoy working with sumi in a free and experimental way. We will begin the day with brush exercises to free up your body and mind, and then using dots, lines and shapes will work with gradations of sumi and wet and dry brushwork.
We will have the opportunity to try out the many sumi inks at Boku-undo Sumi Manufacturers during the workshop.

Date: Nov 30th 2014 11:00 – 4:00 (Please arrive by 10:45)
Meeting place : Boku-undo Sumi Manufacturers.
Please come to the Boku-undo shop inside Ganko Shopping Street , Nishinokyo
Here is a MAP.

Nearest Station: Nishinokyo on the Kintetsu Kashihara jingu line. At Kintetsu Yamato Saidaiji take the local train to Nishinokyo, it takes about 6 or 7 minutes.
Please bring: Shodo equipment: brush, felt, water container, paperweight
A packed lunch and drink
Warm clothes

Fee: 3,000 Yen. This includes fee for the room and for paper.

Please contact Christine if you would like to attend the workshop and if you have any questions.
See also her site at:

Pictures from Sanka’s Autumn Ritual by Ensō Watt


I am now officially a fan of Ensō Watt! Last Friday’s performance was excellent and I enjoyed every minute of it. With musicians posted in various corners of Urbanguild, and Yannick Paget both conducting and performing with hypnotic percussion from the center, we were fully immersed in a landscape of sound. Simultaneously the live video art of Andy Couzens and Masato Tokumaru cast images upon the walls while poet Chris Mosdell cast images in our minds. I really was quite lost in it all, and am looking forward to their next Winter performance. Long live Ensō Watt!


Samuel André (Soundscape, Field recording)


Ryotaro (Accordion & effects)


Chris Mosdell (lyricist/poet) gave a stirring reading…


Yuki Nakagawa (Cello & effects)

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Taisuke Enami (piano & synth effect)


Yannick Paget (conductor, composer and percussionist)





For more details on this performance please refer to the previous post: Sanka’s Autumn Ritual by Ensō Watt
Follow Ensō Watt on Facebook or on their website here: