The festival will celebrate the art, plants and culture of Japan in this new Autumn festival which will take place between the 2nd to the 31st October.

Photo: Nicolas Lysandrou, Unsplash

This Autumn, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew invites visitors to immerse themselves in the  art, plants and culture of Japan in its new festival which will be based in the Temperate House.

At the centre of the festival will be a large-scale artistic installation by Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, titled One Thousand Springs. Known for her vast, room-spanning webs of thread installations, through which she explores human existence, Shiota’s One Thousand Springs will be suspended from the roof of the Temperate House. Constructed of 5,000 haikus, submitted by members of the public and suspended within a sea of red threads, it tells stories of our shared connections with nature.  

Meanwhile, there will also be horticultural displays that will take over the  Temperate House Octagons with a specially commissioned Chalk Garden, a contemporary response to a Japanese garden showcasing native plants including grasses, shrubs and trees. In addition, Kew’s own horticultural team have designed a display celebrating the magnificent Chrysanthemum, Japan’s national flower. Chrysanthemums are culturally significant in Japan, featuring on passports and banknotes and renowned as a symbol of longevity, rejuvenation and goodwill.

Visitors will also be able to experience an emotive, immersive soundscape by sound artist Yosi Horikawa within the Temperate House. Capturing the harmonious natural sounds of the rivers and waterfalls of Kagoshima, as well atmospheric soundscapes from the Cedar mountains of Gifu and bird calls set across the waves of the Philippine Sea, this sensory installation will capture the unique ambience of Japan’s beautiful and diverse natural landscapes.

Paul Denton, Head of Visitor Programmes and Exhibitions at RBG Kew says, “Kew has a strong connection to Japan through both our architectural features and our plants in the Gardens. The beauty and harmony of Japan is rich and fascinating, and the natural world as a whole is woven through Japanese culture in a unique and tangible way. We are honoured to celebrate the country’s rich connection to nature through contemporary art, iconic plant displays, food and crafts in a brand-new festival this autumn.”

Meanwhile, out of hours The Temperate House will be illuminated for Japan: After hours, with a varied programme from dance, theatre, and live music performances to traditional flower arranging and sake sipping. Visitors can enjoy performances from dance company Butoh UK and electronic musician and DJ Anchorsong, whilst learning about the intricacies of sake with experts from Japan House London. Demonstrations of the ritual art of ikebana – Japanese flower arranging – will be given by artist Hanako Matoya, and our Kew Experts will be on hand to share their knowledge of the remarkable horticulture of Japan with guests. 

The Japan Festival will take place from the 2nd to the 31st October. To find out more visit: https://www.kew.org/kew-gardens/whats-on/festival-japan