Japan House London Announces 2024 Exhibitions and Highlights

12/31/2023 by

Japan House London announces an exciting exhibition and events programme for 2024, continuing its offer of new perspectives on Japan's diverse cultures. Three main exhibitions will consecutively showcase stories of Japan's indigenous Ainu people, Japanese design highlights as chosen by some of the country's top designers, and the expertly crafted and strikingly realistic food samples so ubiquitous in Japan. Fresh from celebrating its fifth birthday, the free exhibitions and rich events programme expand upon the successes of the past five years to continue to highlight the very best of Japan, with a particular emphasis on areas that might be new to UK audiences.

Spring Exhibition 

Japanese Design Exhibition
May – September 2024

In Spring, following successful shows in Los Angeles and São Paulo, seven major Japanese designers present their chosen treasures from across Japan, spanning 10,000 years of trailblazing design. Highlights include -

  • Fashion designer Kunihiko Morinaga (of brand ANREALAGE) with 'havuragin' - a patchwork garment worn by priestesses from the Kagoshima region, which is said to protect its wearer.
  • Filmmaker Koichiro Tsujikawa chooses the beauty of wooden spinning tops, because 'toys are the first design people come into contact with'.
  • Architect and ex-Sega video game designer Tetsuya Mizuguchi offers up the 'transacoustic piano', in which an embedded electric speaker creates a sound experience that can be felt through the user's entire body.
  • Architect Tsuyoshi Tane shows earthenware from the Jōmon Period, shedding light on people's daily living situations in Japan over 10,000 years ago.

Autumn Exhibition

Food Samples
October 2024 – February 2025

Food samples are the replica food models found outside restaurants in Japan to advertise what is on offer inside. The production of these replicas was developed more than a century ago and requires great attention to detail. Specialist craftspeople work across Japan on this art form in workshops of varying size.

In Autumn 2024, 47 new replicas will be commissioned by Japan House London to explore food sample culture, one from each of Japan's prefectures. The exhibition will feature regional dishes from across the country whilst exploring the history, current use and future of the art form.

2024 Exhibition events

Japan House London's current exhibition Ainu Stories: Contemporary Lives by the Saru River (open until 21 April) is accompanied by a range of events and workshops demonstrating and teaching contemporary Ainu culture from Biraotri in Hokkaido led by special guests from the region. January will see several Ainu language workshops, as well as discussions on the conservation and revitalisation of minority languages. February will feature Ainu dance performances as well as food-related events, including cooking demonstrations and tastings. Towards the end of the exhibition run, Japan House London will host Ainu craftsmen from Biratori in Hokkaido for talks, demonstrations and workshops to highlight the revitalised practice of Ainu woodwork.

2024 Film Screenings

As well as regular Ainu film screenings from January to April, 2024 introduces Japan House London's Mizoguchi Kenji season, presenting five films by the legendary director over the course of six months. Curated by academic and Japanese film critic Alex Jacoby, the selection includes Sansho Dayu, The Life of Oharu and Gion Bayashi. All screenings are free, but booking is essential.

The Shop at Japan House London

Throughout 2024, The Shop at Japan House London continues to offer guests the opportunity to learn about artists, designers, manufacturers and regions of Japan. Visit the Kensington High Street store and the Shop online for new products and thoughtfully curated collections that reflect the ever-changing seasons. Many items are available exclusively at Japan House London in the UK.

Ikebana and library displays

Japan House London's Month-by-Month ikebana displays continue until July, presenting Japanese flower design by members of Ikebana International London Chapter. Each display takes inspiration from wafu getsumei, the evocative names for the months of the old Japanese lunar calendar.

From January, the Library at Japan House London will feature a new collection of books on music from Japan. The books will cover a breadth of musical genres, including rock, city pop, video game music and contemporary classical. The display will also include the Ainu string instrument tonkori.

Artist residencies 

The Japan House London Trust is partnering with several key UK-based arts organizations to support artist residencies in spring 2024. Van Gogh House, Delfina Foundation and Studio Voltaire are all hosting residencies: 

  • Delfina Foundation has selected Takuya Watanabe to take part in its artist residency. Watanabe will be researching Japanese knotweed, which was first brought to Kew Gardens in the UK and has since grown wild for centuries.
  • Van Gogh House selected Takehito Koganezawa and Yoichi Kamimura, who have worked on several collaborative projects together, and will spend their time in London capturing sounds from the Thames and line drawings of the people around it.
  • The focus for Studio Voltaire's residency will be on emerging practitioners with an emphasis on self-organised and alternative ways of working.

Sam Thorne, Director General and CEO of Japan House, said:

"Japan is a country of such diversity, and in 2024 we will be dedicating our spaces to celebrating this through food, design, art and architecture. We want Japan House London to continue to be a place where audiences can explore and discover things about Japan they never knew before.

I'm particularly excited to have developed a number of artist residencies with brilliant organisations across the city. We hope the year will continue to bring about these fruitful partnerships, adding to the already rich offering in London and beyond."