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This Week in Japan Jan. 1-7, 2018

Every week we post our picks for upcoming events in Japan. If you would like your event listed here, contact the editor of GaijinPot.

By 1 min read

From New Year rituals to psychedelic art to funky guitars, there’s something for everyone this week in Japan. If you’re doing something cool, leave us a comment or send us an email to have your event listed here.

Monday: Ensure good luck (Across Japan)


People across Japan will ring in the New Year by taking part in the auspicious “hatsumode” (first shrine visit of the New Year). The most festive time of the year in the country sees religious establishments gussied up with lanterns and food stalls as pilgrims throng the grounds. Major destinations include shrines Meiji Jingu in Tokyo, Tsurugaoka Hachimangu in Kamakura and Ise Jingu in Mie Prefecture. To avoid the maddening crowds, head to your local neighborhood shrine or temple, which offer less commercialized experiences.

When & Where
Jan 1
Shrines across Japan - Map
More Info

Tuesday: Get photographic (Tokyo)

Takashi Homma Exhibition

Photographer Takashi Homma presents images from his latest project, Twenty-six Gasoline Stations. The title refers to a series by Ed Ruscha and suggests the intention of the book to serve as an homage to the legendary lensman. Homma cut his teeth as an in-house photographer at a Tokyo advertising agency in the ‘80s before moving to London to work as a photographer for i-D maga­zine. He’s amassed an intriguing body of work looking at themes like “The Narcissistic City” and “Takashi Homma: Tokyo and My Daughter.”

When & Where
Jan 2-20
12-8 p.m.
Post Books, Tokyo - Map
More Info

Wednesday: Holy rollers (Fukuoka)


Tama Seseri

In another of Japan’s unique New Year temple rituals, opposing teams of loincloth-garbed men clash to see which one can take possession of an 8 kg wooden ball. It’s an event that’s taken place for 500 years at the Hakozakigu Shrine in Fukuoka. A victory by the Beach Team is said to guarantee a robust haul of fish in the coming year, while victory for the Land Team brings a rich harvest on land.

When & Where
Jan 3
1-2:30 p.m.
Hakozakigu Shrine, Fukuoka - Map
More Info

Thursday: Psychedelic designs (Kobe)

Yokoo Tadanori: Hanga Jungle

Perhaps Japan’s greatest graphic designer, Yokoo Tadanori rebelled against the formalism of modern art in the 1960s, producing a stream of fanciful prints that launched the careers of underground Japanese dramatists and eventually adorned the covers of albums by Miles Davis and Santana. Yokoo also embraced traditional Japanese images and natural colors, and techniques of “hanga” (print) art. This exhibition presents works that illustrate the principles of hanga production while also hinting at the diverse “jungle” of Yokoo’s artistic expression.

When & Where
Jan 4-Feb 4
10 a.m.–6 p.m.
Yokoo Tadanori Museum of Contemporary Art, Kobe - Map
More Info

Friday: Funkify yourself (Tokyo)

David T. Walker

Many will have heard his guitar work on songs by the likes of the Jackson 5, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Aretha Franklin, but perhaps few will be familiar with the name David T. Walker. Creating signature solos for many of ‘70s soul music’s greatest tracks, Walker was born to a Native American mother and African American father in Oklahoma before settling in California. He’s been sampled by hip-hop artists from Tupac Shakur to A Tribe Called Quest and released 15 albums as a solo artist.

When & Where
Jan 5
6 & 9 p.m.
Billboard Live, Tokyo - Map
¥8,300 tp ¥9,800
More Info

Saturday: Jaw-dropping acrobatics (Himeji)

Dezome-Shiki: Himeji Fire Brigade’s New Year Show

This annual New Year spectacle features Himeji firefighters showing off their athleticism by performing death-defying stunts atop bamboo ladders. “Dezomeshiki,” or “New Year's Fire Review,” recalls a time when Japan’s firefighters worked with bucket brigades and fire towers to prevent the country’s flammable wooden cities from becoming funeral pyres. In addition to the ladder-top routines, the event features a fire-truck parade, rescue drills, a water-hose show and firefighting exercise done by kids.

When & Where
Jan 7
9:30 a.m.
Shirotopia Kinen Park, Himeji, Hyogo - Map
More Info

Sunday: New Year leg-up (Osaka)


Grammy-winning dance music DJ/producer Dubfire is back to celebrate “a decade of dub fire.” One-half of spectacularly successful house music duo Deep Dish, Iran-born American Ali Shirazinia aka Dubfire now heads up the SCI+TEC label and has moved on from the prog-house sound that made the duo’s name. He’s carved out a new space in the minimal techno scene and produced several key releases that cemented him as a true visionary and a force to be reckoned with in underground music.

When & Where
Jan 8
10 p.m.-5 a.m.
Alzar, Osaka - Map
More Info

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