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A taste of Japan in Gillingham

Date: 15/08/2008           Category: Events

A wealth of Japanese cultures and traditions will be celebrated in Gillingham next month during the Will Adams Festival. This year’s event takes place on Saturday, 13 September offering Medway residents and visitors an amazing array of sights and sounds to commemorate the relationship between Gillingham-born Will Adams and Japan. The Black Lion Leisure Centre in Mill Road will host a range of activities, including martial arts demonstrations, Taiko drumming, Japanese dancing, sushi and tea ceremony workshops, storytelling, mask making, calligraphy and paper magic. There will also be plenty of opportunity to relax and unwind while trying out a variety of holistic therapies. Japanese students from Chaucer College, Canterbury will perform the Fisherman's Dance and Haruhi Dance on the main stage, and costumed characters will walk among the visitors, some who have travelled from Japan to be here for the festival. As well as offering people the chance to sample eastern culture, the festival will give an insight into the life of Medway's famous seafaring son, believed to be the first Briton to reach Japan. Adams landed in Japan in 1600 and stayed there until his death in 1620. He was a key advisor to the shogun (general) and built for him Japan’s first western-style ships. He was also the inspiration for the main character in the best-selling novel Shogun by James Clavell. Japan holds its own Will Adams festival each year, releasing doves as a symbol of peace. Medway has a special relationship with Ito and Yokosuka, two cities where Adams spent a lot of time. This year’s Will Adams Festival runs from 10.30am to 5pm. For further details on the festival visit www.medway.gov.uk/willadamsfestival or phone Medway Visitor Information Centre on 01634 843666. This year is the 150th anniversary of the Anglo-Japan Treaty of Amity and Commerce. To celebrate this, there will be a Japan-UK celebration evening of William Adams, on Friday, 12 September at St Mary Magdalene Church, Gillingham Green. Speakers will include Michio Henmi, a Buddhist priest from the temple in Yokosuka where Adams’ family is buried, and Wataru Nishigahero, Minister Plenipotentiary and DMC at the Embassy of Japan in London. The celebration will be opened by Cllr Susan Haydock at 6pm and runs until 8pm, followed by refreshments. The event is free to attend, but registration via email is necessary. Please send your name, address, organisation and affiliation details to mailbox@jlgc.org.uk ENDS For further information please contact Lisa Caleno on 01634 338308 or email lisa.caleno@medway.gov.uk