When the East comes West in London
Posted on January 25th, 2020
As the country gets ready for the Olympics in Tokyo this summer, there is a heavy influence of the East coming West in London. This is hot on the heels of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, the success of which has everyone very much in the mood for some Eastern zen.
Here in London, there are hints of the Orient cropping up everywhere. New exhibitions, fabulous restaurant openings and light festivals abound. We, at LLW, have hand-picked our favourites. We will keep you up to speed with others hitting our radar in 2020, because there will be lots more to add.
Tokyo 2020. The opening ceremony will be on Friday, July 24, and the closing ceremony on Sunday Aug 9. (Paralympics Aug 29-Sept 6). Fun fact – the 5 new sports added are: baseball/softball karate, skateboarding, sport climbing and surfing.
Exhibitions reflecting the East
Kimono: Kyoto to Catwalk. Open now. The brilliant V & A is on-point again with this exciting forthcoming exhibition. It traces the history, the impact and the fashion of this iconic Japanese garment.
WOW: City Lights and Woodland Shade. Ends 22 March. Japan House. Recently opened, this is a digital art installation at Japan House. Walk into the neon light journey of Central Tokyo, involve yourself interactively with Japan’s birds and countryside, then pop up to the Akira restaurant which has a special exhibition-inspired menu. Watch out for more events throughout 2020.
Forgotten Masters: Indian Painting for the East India Company. Ends 19 April. The Wallace Collection. Tucked between Selfridges and Harley Street, it is one of our absolutely favourite museums. This exhibition showcases works by Indian master painters commissioned by the rich and colonial East India Company in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Lightopia London. Ends 1 March. Chiswick House Gardens. Open in time for Chinese New Year, the ‘Harmony’ lantern and light festival is set in the stunning grounds of gorgeous Chiswick House. Included in the tickets are acrobatics and music plus there will be plenty of food stalls to savour. Best to book ahead.
Orchid Festival – Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew. 8 Feb – 22 March. EXTENDED to 22nd March spend a day a the fabulous Kew Gardens. The 2020 festival focuses on Indonesia, its wildlife and plants. Always a sure hit.
Again immersive, you will come across life-size animals decorated with hundreds of tropical flowers, an erupting volcano created from orchids and even an archway of carnivorous plants (sounds quite dangerous!). This gets very booked up so be sure to book a timed ticket in advance. We went in 2019 and loved it.
Chinese New Year. 26 Jan. It’s the year of the Rat – despite the animal, ‘Rats’ sound quite appealing… clever, quick thinkers, successful, but content with living a quiet and peaceful life. London loves CNY. On Sunday 26 Jan Chinatown will come alive with parades, performances and displays. Trafalgar Square will be taken over from midday with Chinese entertainment, and there’s a family zone in Leicester Square. Main parade starts 10am at Charing Cross. 恭喜發財
If you are looking for further inspiration to spark some joy into 2020, look no further than the ‘Queen of clean’, Marie Kondo. Personally a huge fan, in practice I struggle, when every year I try my hardest to de-clutter. In fact it is about living with items you truly cherish. Note to self; I still need to declutter!!
Where to eat out…Asian style
We have a few Eastern suggestions for you; Viet-Food in Chinatown is delicious. Hakasaan in Mayfair is always a good choice. If you are looking for an Afternoon Tea, the Westbury has an Asian inspired tea running until the summer, at weekends only.