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Will Adams Festival

Saturday, 9 September

Gillingham Park, 11am to 4.30pm


Celebrate the legacy of Will Adams

The festival celebrates the life of Will Adams, who grew up in Gillingham during the Tudor period before becoming an experienced sailor in the Royal Navy. After retiring from the navy, Adams navigated a fleet of five Dutch ships from West Africa; during this hazardous voyage his ship ran aground on the island of Kyushu in Japan, where he was captured, questioned and imprisoned as a pirate. After being released he was ordered to sail to Tokyo. The Shogun was impressed with his knowledge of shipbuilding and navigation and Adams became a trusted aide and diplomatic adviser. As a reward, he was granted the honoured title of Samurai and given a small estate in Hemi, which is now known as Yokosuka. 

At the festival you will experience Tudor England and maritime history, as well as Japanese culture in the 17th and the 21st century. There's lots to see and do, including Taiko Meantime Drumming, martial arts, living history and storytelling.

This event is free entry. Dogs are welcome but must be kept on leads.

Gillingham Park is easy to access by public transport – 101, Jeffrey St (5 minute walk to park) 182, Gillingham High St (15 minute walk to park) 116, Canterbury St (1 minute walk to park) 132, Jezreels (3 minute walk to park). Please note these are all estimated times.

There is limited adjacent street parking.


Highlights include:



  • Tudor games
  • Living history and story telling


  • Living history encampment including net making and navigation


  •  Taiko Meantime Drumming
  • Traditional Japanese Encampment
  • Martial Arts
  • Origami
  • Calligraphy **
  • Manga**
  • Reiki  
  • Shiatsu
  • Kensei – display of traditional swords and armour – this is new to the festival and consists of:    -Muso Jikiden Eishin Ryu Iaijutsu displays


    -O-yoroi Armour for display and demonstrate putting it on and wearing iaijutsu and tameshigiri displays with explanatory, historical commentary; talks about the katana, its' history, method of manufacture and evolution, demonstrations of cutting angles, difficult single handed cuts and multiple cuts

  • Traditional Japanese Children’s Games**
  • Fisherman’s Dance (Soran Bushi Dance)**
  • Learn Japanese expressions and words**

** These activities are provided by the Chaucer College, Canterbury


  • Mid-Kent Astronomical Society - telescopes and astronomical displays
  • Hiromi Rogers - author of 'ANJIN, The Life and Times of William Adams' will be signing copies of her book
  • Plus much more

will adams collage