I've just got back from a few idyllic days in London away from the rain and humidity here in central Japan. I was staying in the Bloomsbury area of London near Russell Square, the British Museum and London University Senate Building.
The area has quite a Japanese influence, especially with the number of Japanese restaurants in the area catering to Japanese businessmen, tourists visiting the British Museum and students studying at the university.
Samurai Sushi & Bento Restaurant on Goodge Street is one such place but there are 3 or 4 other Japanese eateries within easy walking distance.
Nearby University College London (UCL) also has a strong Japanese connection, as it was here in 1863 and 1865, that probably the first Japanese students to London came to study. Future Japanese Prime Minister Ito Hirobumi, along with Kaoru Inoue, Masaru Inoue and other Japanese students attended lectures at UCL and a plaque and stone monument records their visit. Many of these men returned home to play leading roles in the modernization of their country in the Meiji Period.
The Japanese Peace Pagoda on the south bank of the Thames in Battersea Park was built by Japanese monks and completed in 1985 under the guidance of Japanese peace activist Nichidatsu Fujii (1885-1985), the founder of the Nipponzan-Myohoji Buddhist Order. The first such Peace Pagoda in the UK was built in Milton Keynes in 1981.
Kew Gardens, in south west London, has the original hinoki gateway of the 1910 Japanese Exhibition at White City - the Chokushi Mon. The gate is a four-fifths replica of the gateway to Nishi Honganji Temple in Kyoto. The gate is set in a pleasant Japanese-style garden and nearby is a haiku carved in granite and donated by the Haiku Society of Japan in 1979 to commemorate the visit of haiku master Kyoshi Takahama (1874-1959) who was inspired to verse by his stay in Kew in 1936.
Freed from all fear of man
England in Spring
Books on Japanese History
Japanese Folding Fans
Japan in London #1
Japan London haiku Ito Hirobumi Bloomsbury
Tuesday, July 18, 2006