Japanese Performing Arts Festival - Performance

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York St John University

Lord Mayor's Walk


YO31 7EX

United Kingdom

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Join us for an afternoon showcasing Japanese performing arts

About this event

Join us for an afternoon of performances showcasing a range of Japanese performing arts featuring a professional rakugo (story telling) artist from Japan and performances by locally based artists.

We are delighted to welcome special guest rakugo artist Katsura Utazo from Japan, also featuring performances of taiko drumming, enka folk singing, koto (Japanese harp) and tanka poetry.

Limited taster sessions are also available earlier in the day and include an opportunity to have a go at some Taiko drumming and taste some Japanese Tea. Tickets for the morning workshops are available by following the link.

This is an official event of the Japan Season of Culture.


Rakugo story telling dates to the Edo period in Japan (1603 - 1868) and is still a popular form of entertainment. The storyteller remains seated throughout the performance, relying on skill as a storyteller rather than props or scenery. The humourous stories are based on warm-hearted human drama or farcical comedy.

Katsura Utazo

Utazo Katsura is a professional Rakugo performer from Japan. Katsura Utazo took his apprenticeship under Katsura Utamaru and started doing his opening acts for him in 1992. He rose to the highest Rakugo Master rank in 2005. Fully professional Rakugo artists take the surname Katsura. He has performed all over the world and it is our great pleasure to be able to host him in York.

The performance will be in English.

Taiko drumming

Taiko means drum in Japanese, drums have been played in Japan for hundreds of years but modern taiko (kumi daiko) emerged in the 1950s influenced by jazz and pop music of the day. Drums changed from being part of the band to become the main instrument. Taiko is popular across the USA and Europe and arrived in the UK in the 1990s.

Kaminari UK Taiko

Kaminari are based in York and have been sharing their love of Japanese drumming for over 10 years. They perform regularly including charity events, Japan-themed days and also have their own theatre show called "Shiki" (four seasons). They also host occasional workshops where people can have a go themselves.


Enka is a uniquely Japanese style of music which often sounds ‘traditional’ but is actually a 20th century style that rose in popularity after World War 2. Featuring rich instrumental scores and a vocal technique known as “Bushi”, a vibrato technique employed by enka singers, the sound and style is instantly identifiable. Enka tells the story of life itself, it’s highs and lows. From rousing marches giving you the promise of a better day to sentimental ballads that will tug at your heartstrings, enka belongs to everyone

LJ English

The only British enka singer in the world” L.J. English started learning the Japanese language in 2018 and through his studies gradually fell in love with enka music. A published recording artist and former professional gospel singer, L.J. is bringing the rich sounds of Japanese enka music to UK audiences, right on their doorstep. “I wanted to share my love of this music with other people in the UK, I feel that enka’s cultural heritage, it’s sweeping and beautiful scores and it’s talented musicians, writers and singers should be celebrated.

Attending an event in-person

This event is running in-person, the meeting point for this event is Temple Hall at York St John University.

Your safety is our highest priority and we have put measures in place to ensure that your experience is safe and enjoyable when attending events on campus.

• Multiple hand sanitation points are available around the event area, including on entry.

• We have implemented enhanced cleaning across our campus.

• We are encouraging the wearing of face coverings when on campus and to take a lateral flow test before attending.

• Please stay at home if you feel unwell or if you have recieved a positive covid test.

Events Access & Inclusivity

At York St John University we are committed to making our events as welcoming and inclusive for as many people as possible.

If you are planning to attend one of our events and have specific access requirements, please contact us by e: events@yorksj.ac.uk or t: 01904 876654 and we will make every effort to accommodate you.

If you need a suitable seat reserved for you (and companions), please let us know, preferably at least one week before the event. Sign language interpreters and real-time captioning may be requested in advance. Please contact us as soon as possible (ideally at least 3 weeks before the date of the event) if you require either BSL interpretation or captioning. We will try our best but cannot guarantee provision.

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York St John University

Lord Mayor's Walk


YO31 7EX

United Kingdom

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Organiser York St John University

Organiser of Japanese Performing Arts Festival - Performance

York St John University was founded in 1841, born out of a socially conscious, ethical conviction in sharing education as a route to a fairer world. As a leading education, training and research institution in the heart of the historic city of York we serve a global campus of staff and students who thrive on academic excellence, graduate employability and a strong sense of community.

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