Japanese Family Activities This Summer

Stuck for new and exciting ideas to keep the family amused and entertained (or even just quiet!) over the summer months? Look no further than our list of this summer's best Japanese family activities!

There are plenty of Japanese-related events going on this summer to excite, amuse and delight the whole family, from kids to granny and everyone in between. So round up the relatives and take them along to one of these family-friendly Japan-related summer holiday events coming up in July and August. 

With taiko drumming, Japan-made cars and motorbikes, anime festivals,  Japanese theatre and music, and even Japanese pro-wrestling on offer, there is sure to be something to grab the interest of even the most reluctant teenager - and you never know, it might just spark a new lifelong interest!

12th UK Taiko Festival (UKTF) / 30th June-2nd July / Exeter / From £12

Pulse and Roll taiko concert

Hosted annually by Kagemusha Taiko on behalf of the growing UK taiko community, the 12th UK Taiko Festival (UKTF) will take place from 30th June to 2nd July featuring a series of concerts and workshops held in Exeter.

A Feast of Taiko - 7:30pm, Friday 30th June, 2017

Youth taiko groups from Devon, the UK and beyond demonstrate their energy and talent with a knockout performance to kickstart the festival. Tickets cost £12 (£10 for under 16s).

Taiko Beats - Noon, Saturday 1st July, 2017

Ten different taiko groups each take to the stage for no more than ten minutes, making for a dynamic, varied and action-packed performance. Tickets costs £12.

Pulse & Roll - 7:45pm, Saturday 1st July, 2017

For this special concert, Kagemusha Taiko are joined from Japan by former Kodo member, Shogo Yoshii, and from the USA by one of the world’s leading taiko performers, Shoji Kameda. Tickets cost £15-25.

Brother Drum - 7:00pm, Saturday 2nd July, 2017

For the final concert of the festival, Kagemusha Taiko will be joined by a host of international artists from England, Scotland, Japan and the USA for a rendition of “Brother Drum”, a song about reaching out to make friends across boundaries, whether cultural, political or geographical. The song features traditional instruments from both Japan and the UK, and will be performed by a special group of musicians including Tsuchigumo Daiko, Shogo Yoshii, Hibiki Ichikawa, and others. Tickets cost £16.

A video of the group performing “Brother Drum” accompanied by a short documentary about the song, which is rooted in celebration of Anglo-Japanese relations, can be watched on Kagemusha Taiko’s website: www.kagemusha.com/brotherdrum
For more information on each show and where to buy tickets, see the UKTF page on Kagemushi Taiko's website.
When? 1 July 2017
Where? Exeter Northcott Theatre, Stocker Road, Exeter, Devon, EX4 4QB


Taste of Japan Language & Culture Day / 6th July / Cardiff / Free

Taste of Japan Language & Culture Day
Know a teenager or young person interested in pursuing a career as a manga artist, voice actor or cosplayer extraordinaire? Combine fun with education this summer at a Japanese language and culture taster day in Cardiff, where they’ll have the opportunity to sample Japanese language, food and culture as well as get a flavour of studying and student life at Cardiff University.
At the event, visitors of all ages will be able to experience both the modern and traditional sides of Japan through a series of talks and workshops on several aspects of Japanese culture, from food, origami and anime to calligraphy, martial arts and music. 

Items with (a) next to them are open to school pupils and teachers. Items with (b) next to them are open to Cardiff University students and members of the public.

Programme (provisional)
10.00-10.30: Welcome Talk about studying languages at the University (a)
10.30-11.15: Japanese Language Taster Session (a)
11.15-12.00: Cardiff University Tour by current students (a)
12.00-12.30: Lunch/Tasting Japanese food and drink tasting (a)
12.30-13.30: Kendo Demonstration (Japanese martial arts) (b)
13.30-15.00: Parallel Workshops (Japanese calligraphy, manga drawing, origami) (a)
15.00-16.00: Lecture on Japanese Anime (b)
16.00-17.00: Koto Concert (Japanese traditional music instrument) (b)
17.00-18.00: Wine reception (b)

Lunch will not be provided but various Japanese food and drinks (tea) will be available for tasting.
When? 10:00-18:00, Thursday 6th July
Where?  Cardiff School of Music, Concert Hall, Corbett Road, Cardiff, CF10 3EB


Mr Potsunen’s Peculiar Slice of Life by Kentaro Kobayashi / 5th-8th July / London / From £20.00

Mr Potsunen’s Peculiar Slice of Life

Mr Potsunen is a series of theatrical sketches written, directed and performed by award-winning performance artist Kentaro Kobayashi. Following the show's sold-out run in London in 2015, Kobayashi will return to the UK for a limited run of this imaginative and magical solo show.

Following the daily existence of a mysterious gentleman, the eponymous 'Mr Potsunen', who is obsessed with trivial pursuits, audiences are invited into Mr Potsunen’s solitary universe, a spectacular world of art and magic. Featuring original hand-drawn animation by Kobayashi, the one-man show playfully combines mime-based live performance with film and projection in a story which is touching, eccentric and wonderfully funny.

Watch a video of part of the show any purchase tickets on the Coronet Printroom’s website. Tickets cost from £20.00 (£16.00 concessions). Hurry as tickets are nearly sold out! The show is suitable for children aged 6 and older.

When? Tickets are still available for performances at 19:30 on 6th and 7th July.
Where? Coronet Printroom, Print Room at the Coronet, London, W11 3LB


Hyper Japan / 14th-16th July / London / From £15.00

Hyper Japan 2016 Credit Misa
The ideal Japan-themed family day out! Hyper Japan returns to London’s iconic Tobacco Dock venue for its annual three-day long extravaganza packed to the brim with all things Japanese. Read more about the line-up of musical performances, cosplaying and food and drink in our recent article here.


Japanese Cars & Motorbikes at JapShow 2017  / 9th July / Santa Pod Raceway / From £8

JapShow 2017

Got a family member who is mad about Japanese cars or motorbikes? At JapShow 2017, you will find more Japanese cars and motorbikes than you can possible admire in just one day. The show’s multiple areas allow visitors to see the show their way - enjoy the more relaxed pace in the Show Paddock, club displays and trade area, or take a walk on the wild side and head over to the tracks for a thrilling day of stunt displays, drifting and drag series (don’t forget earplugs for the kids!).

RWYB (Run What Ya Brung)

Take your Japanese car or motorbike for a spin on Santa Pod’s famous track and show everyone what it can do! Fee for entry with trophies for class winners and performance printouts of all your runs.


Handling Track

Competition open to all Japanese vehicles, whether FWD, RWD or AWD - but who will come out on top?  Entry is free, simply sign up before you drive up.

FWD Drag Series

A championship for all FWD cars including Japanese with the top cars running eight and nine second quarters. 

Autoglym Show Car Paddock

Whether you've got a classic or modified Japanese show car, if it's something special, make sure you enter it in the paddock - don't leave it in the main carpark where no-one will see it! Simply turn up, park up, sign up and shine up. The Paddock is free to enter but space is limited and it fills up quickly so be sure to arrive early to avoid disappointment.

Japanese Bikes

JapShow also welcomes two-wheeled Japanese machinery with a RWYB Bike class, Show & Shine Bike trophy, and drag bike demos on the track.

Plus drifting demos, motorbike stunt rider, synchronized close formation driving (think the Red Arrows but without leaving the ground!), trade area, funfair rides, catering and more. Tickets from £8 advance and from £10 on the door. Check out the detailed line-up and ticket information and watch the highlights of the 2016 show on the official JapFest 2017 website.


Tokonatsu - Japanese Anime & Camping / 4th-7th August / £50-70

Pitch your tent alongside fellow manga and anime fans at the UK’s premier Japanese culture camping festival in the bucolic Bedfordshire countryside. Tokonatsu is a unique festival within the UK anime scene in which manga and anime fans gather to enjoy and celebrate their hobby in the great outdoors - the only UK anime convention that can also boast a campfire each nights and parties under the stars!
Tokonatsu is open to all ages (under 16s require parental consent) and would make the ideal summer getaway for young anime and manga fans looking to get outdoors, enjoy their hobby, and meet new friends, all at the same time.

There is a huge variety of activities and attractions on offer to keep this year's attendees fully occupied over the four days of the festival, including cosplay masquerade, gaming tent, manga/anime merchandise bring and buy sale “Tokomart”, outdoor games such as frisbee, capture the flag and Otaku Royale, campfire, food trucks, and nightly Japan-themed matsuri (festival) with traditional funfair games, karaoke, and even a cinema.

Tickets cost £50 for the weekend or £70 for early access and include breakfast, tent pitch, participation in the games and a goodie bag. Buy them through the Tokonatsu website.

When? Midday 4th August until midday 7th August 
Where? Boyd Campsite and Activity Centre, Church Road, Henlow, Bedfordshire SG16 6AN


Cotswold Ekiden 5.5 Relay Race / 3rd September / Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire


The beauty of the English countryside meets the famed team spirit and dedication of Japan at a brand new running race this September. The Cotswold Ekiden will see a Japanese-style relay race take place through the beautiful English countryside in the grounds of Sudeley Castle in the heart of the Cotswolds, with each team member of a four-person team running 5.5km on an undulating multi-terrain course. 

What is "ekiden"? In the olden days in Japan, messages were transported across long distances using a relay system of messengers and stations (“eki” means station, while “den” refers to the transmission of a message). Ekiden relay races were formed to honour this age-old tradition, but instead of  a baton a sash called a “tasuki” is passed on from runner to runner.

Teach your kids all about the virtues of teamwork, perseverance and healthy exercise by taking them to cheer on the teams at the first Cotswold Ekiden. There will be free car parking next to the race hub which will host Japanese-inspired entertainment and hot and cold food and drinks, including Bristol Taiko Drummers and Miniyaki’s Japanese street food.

On race day, Sudeley Castle and gardens will also be open (entrance fee applies), offering breathtaking views of the Cotswold hills from its 1,200 acre estate and ten award-winning gardens. As the one-time home of monarchs and royals such as King Charles I and Katherine Parr, the last of King Henry VIII’s wives, enterprising parents can combine watching the race with a visit to the castle to incorporate a history lesson into the day as well!

See the organisers R&R Pursuits' website for more information.

When? The race starts at 10:00am on 3rd September 2017.

Where? The race hub will be next to the visitor centre in the grounds of Sudeley Castle.

Pro Wrestling WC Japan Manchester / 7th July / From £17.50

Sumo wrestling

What Culture Pro Wrestling (WCPW) presents the Japanese qualifiers in the Pro Wrestling World Cup 2017 in association with New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and Revolution Pro Wrestling (RPW). There will be plenty of in tournament action with Japanese wrestlers battling it out as well as special guests.

Tickets can be purchase through the Eventbrite website. Under 14s must be accompanied by an adult.

When? 18:15 to 22:15, 7th July (Main doors: 6:15pm, first bell (approx): 7pm, finish (approx): 10:15pm)
Where? Bowlers Exhibition Centre, Trafford Park, Stretford, Manchester M17 1SN

The London Okinawa Sanshinkai and Butoh UK / 22nd July / London / £7

Okinawa Sanshinkai

Join the London Okinawa Sanshinkai and Butoh UK for an evening of traditional Okinawan folk music and Japanese dance in east London. Be transported to the Far East in this Japanese dance and music extravaganza. In Japan, Japanese traditions such as music and dance are a chance for members of the whole community to come together and celebrate. A great evening out for the whole family! 

The London Okinawa Sanshinkai is an international group that is enthusiastic about folk, classical music and traditional Japanese dance from Japan’s southernmost tropical islands of Okinawa. Butoh UK is a traditional Japanese dance school that organises workshops, classes performances and events with leading Butoh practitioners in the UK.

Tickets cost £7 (£5 for  concessions). Suitable for all ages, under 16s must be accompanied by an adult. Watch a video of Okinawa Sanshinkai's energetic performance and buy tickets on Poplar Union's website.  

When? 6pm–8pm, Saturday 22 July 
Where? Poplar Union, 2 Cotall Street, Poplar, London E14 6TL

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