Mascot Mania! Japan is very big on local spirit. Local food, local businesses, events, matsuri and more are all embraced in a way that perhaps only local pubs and village fetes are in the UK. But how does a place promote itself? How does it capture its very essence? Enter yuru-kyara! Yuru-kyara (loose characters) are cute mascots meant to represent local areas, specialities, companies or more abstract concepts like recycling or friendship. Sometimes the fusion of these things create amazingly awesome characters, other times things get a little…strange. Right now the 3rd annual Yuru-Kyara Grand Prix is taking place where mascots from Japan and abroad are competing to be voted no. 1! Don’t be fooled though, yuru-kyara is serious business and winning the Grand Prix can mean a big boost for tourism in the area. Heck our personal favourite, the ever huggable Kumamon, has his own frankly terrifying theme song and dance. You can even do Kumamon callisthenics if so inclined. So join us as we give you the low down on a couple of our favourite food themed mascots.

Shunga Japan Centre

Explore the parallels between modern Japanese manga comics and the historic world of shunga erotic art in a special lecture event at the British Museum on Friday 1st November. Entitled ‘Shunga into manga?’ it will be chaired by Nicole Rousmaniere (British Museum) with Exhibition Curator Timothy Clark, Nobuko Anan (Birkbeck, University of London), and Paul Gravett (writer, journalist and comics expert). Whether you’re a manga fan, Shunga appreciator or just want to expand your mind with amazing Japanese art, this is not to be missed!

Win Tickets to See Tomoyasu Hotei!

He’s back and better than ever! Once more Japan Centre has teamed up with 3A Entertainment to offer one lucky winner a pair of tickets to see Japanese rock guitar legend Tomoyasu Hotei (Kill Bill and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas soundtracks) at the O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire on Saturday 9th November.

What’s more this London concert will feature a special state-of-the-art visual presentation, as well as an amazing performance band including Toshiyuki Kishi (abingdon boys school), Steve Eto (DEMI SEMI QUAVER),  Tony Grey (Trio Project) and Zachary Alford (recording and performance artist with David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and more).

Do you throw salt over your shoulder to ward off bad luck? Eat chicken soup to cure a cold? Or perhaps you even crush up eggshells to make sure witches can’t use them as boats to sail the seas! knows that delicious food is serious business and as such no matter where in the world you hail from there’s bound to be a wealth of local foodie folklore and superstitions. Japan too has its fair share! So join us as we uncover the truth about how your cuppa could bring you good luck or what to avoid if you don’t want to turn into a cow!

​This autumn the British Museum are kindly offering Japan Centre customers 25% off the price of ​tickets to see their exciting new exhibition Shunga: sex and pleasure in Japanese art​ 3 October 2013 - 5 January 2014.​ We also have a pair of exhibition tickets to give away to one lucky couple, see below for how to enter.