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Will Adams Festival in Gillingham celebrates 400 years of trading links between England and Japan

Date: 05/09/2013           Category: Leisure

The thunder of Taiko drums will sound out across Gillingham this month as Medway celebrates the life of one of its most famous sons.



The Will Adams Festival takes place 11am to 4.30pm on Saturday, 14 September at Gillingham Park, Canterbury Street, Gillingham.

This year’s event is particularly special coming in the 400th year of trading links between England and Japan, which the Gillingham born sailor helped to establish.

Will Adams sailed to the Far East aboard the Hoop, a Dutch registered ship in 1598 while Queen Elizabeth I was still on the throne and is believed to the first Englishman to have reached Japan.

He began trading and cultural relations between the two countries in 1613 and was eventually appointed a Samurai, an event which inspired the 1980s TV series Shogun starring Richard Chamberlain.

The event will once again focus on the Tudor England that Adams would have known, his experiences as a sailor and the Japanese traditions he would have encountered.

Highlights include story telling performances throughout the day by actor Tony Brown from the Play on Words Theatre company.

He will be in character as Medway’s most famous sea-faring son bringing to live his adventures and how he helped bring east and west closer together.

Visitors will also enjoy Taiko drummer performances and even be able to have a go themselves as well as experience traditional tea ceremonies. They will also be able to sample delicious Japanese cuisine as well as long lost flavours from Tudor times.

The event also celebrates many aspects of contemporary Japan with Manga

workshops and Wii games being firm favourites

There will also be martial arts displays, Tudor musical performances, reiki treatments and a chance to learn the intricate art of origami.

Children will be able to get creative making fishy kites and Samurai helmets and take part in play-time medieval style.

Cllr Howard Doe, Portfolio Holder for Community Services, said: “We’re especially proud to celebrate Medway’s connections with Will Adams and our linked towns in this 400th anniversary year.

“The festival is free to enter and offers visitors a wonderful insight into Japanese culture as well as some fascinating living history displays.”

Entry to the Will Adams Festival is free. Gillingham Park is easy to access by public transport including the 101 (Jeffrey St); 182 (Gillingham High Street); 116, Canterbury Street; 132, Jezreels. For more information on public transport in Medway visit www.medway.gov.uk/publictransport.

For more information about events celebrating the 400th anniversary of British and Japanese relations visit www.japan400.com

To find out about other events taking place this autumn across Medway, visit www.enjoymedway.co.uk