Festival to bring flavour of Japan to capital

Taiko drumming, lively comedy, martial arts displays, spectacular costumes and mouth-watering food – Wellington’s fifth Japan Festival has something for everyone.

The family-friendly festival takes place at TSB Bank Arena from 11am to 7pm on Saturday 26 November. Entry is free.

Watch a slideshow of images from previous Japan Festivals Wellington

Festival-goers will be treated to high-energy entertainment including martial arts and taiko drumming, and will also have the opportunity to savour more reflective activities such as tea ceremonies and calligraphy. As always, food-lovers will have plenty of delicious choices from stalls provided by the capital’s Japanese chefs. 

A highlight of the festival will be performances by acclaimed ventriloquist and comedian Showko, who was a finalist in Australia’s Got Talent 2016 and is being brought to New Zealand by the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

A Japanese woman with two hand puppets

Her ventriloquist career started when she worked as a policewoman, teaching traffic safety to children. She also performs rakugo, a traditional Japanese form of comedy storytelling that has been traditionally dominated by men.

Showko spent three years training in the art form and was given the 400-year-old traditional name Showko Shofukutei at completion.

Other stage performances include singer Aki Tsubaki, who performs a soulful mix of jazz, bossa nova, flamenco and originals, and Japanese duo ZOOMADANKE, who will perform with kendama, a traditional toy. The duo have enthralled television and live audiences both in Japan and internationally.

What's happening?

A wide range of activities are taking place in the capital around the festival day. They include:

  • “Wishing Bright Life!” - an exhibition of works by visiting calligraphy master Hokai Shibayama at the NZ Academy of Fine Arts (27 November to 4 December).
  • The Wellington Sakai Association’s exhibition “A Day in the Life”, displaying photos taken by residents of Wellington and its sister city of Sakai on the same day (18 November to 3 December). 
  • Wellington Children’s Art Exhibition at the Michael Fowler Centre, featuring artworks by children aged between three and seven (21 to 25 November). The exhibition will later travel to Sakai.
  • The Japan New Zealand Business Council conference from 23-25 November.
  • The Japanese CARnival on the forecourt of Te Papa, exhibiting the newest models of Japanese cars (24 to 26 November).
  • The Japan Festival show, featuring Showko, Zoomadanke and Aki Tsubaki at Te Papa Soundings Theatre on 25 November.

The Japan Festival Wellington is brought to you by Wellington City Council, the Embassy of Japan and the Asia New Zealand Foundation, with sponsorship from the Japan New Zealand Business Council, the Japan Foundation, the Japan World Exposition 1970 Commemorative Fund, and the Japan Local Government Centre (CLAIR Sydney).