#window2asia: Cultural Events in July 2024

#window2asia is a project of AREA Ruhr, which collects and publishes information on current and upcoming cultural events in the Rhine-Ruhr region. In our overviews, we feature exhibitions, concerts, movie screenings and workshops that are aimed towards the general public. Since last month, we also provide a monthly digest of ongoing and upcoming events in the following month.

Ongoing events

Since March 2024, the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn features the exhibition »Kengo Kuma. Onomatopoeia Architecture«, presenting around two dozen models of some of the Japanese architect’s most important buildings. Kuma, who was born in Yokohama in 1954, has built all over the world: in Japan, but also throughout Europe, the United States, China and Australia. The exhibition is open to the public until September 2025.

The Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst in Köln is currently holding two exhibitions on East Asia: Only until 4 July, »Blumen für Frieda« (flowers for Frieda) exhibits contemporary plant compositions by Ikebana master Ursula Winand that draw on various schools and traditions of Japanese floral art. »Bizzare Schönheiten« (bizarre beauties), the second exhibit, features a stone collection received from collector couple Gudrun and Willi Benz that, complemented by paintings, bronzes and porcelains, sheds light onto the Chinese tradition of bizarrely shaped stones as decorative elements in gardens and scholars’ studios. The exhibition opened in April and will be accessible until January 2025.

Until 13 July, the Ekō-Haus in Düsseldorf is home to the exhibition »Die Poesie der Tusche« (the poetry of ink), which places two representatives of the sumi-e art movement in a dialog and attempts to highlight the artists’ respective foci, their similarities, and their contrasts.

Southeast of city, the Wohnstift Haus Horst is currently home to the photo exhibition »Impressionen aus dem Land der aufgehenden Sonne« (Impressions from the land of the rising sun) with works by photographer Steffen Hübner made during his 10 year stay in Japan. The exhibition in part deals with Japanese geisha culture and may be visited until 26 August.

At the Japanisches Kulturinstitut in Cologne, an exhibition on »Japanisches Glück« (Japanese happiness) opened last month. Until 31 July, the exhibition attempts to shed light on the connections between happiness and Japanese aesthetics using selected objects from everyday life, design objects and works of art. The institute also features the movie screening series »Auf der Suche nach Verbrechern und neuen Bildern« (In search of criminals and new images) until 29 July. With seven films made between 1958 and 1968, this series provides an insight into the cinema of the 1960s and presents works by five directors who were among the most important representatives of their time. features 20 documentaries made between 1971 and 2019 that provide an insight into various areas of Japanese arts and crafts.

Upcoming events

The month is kicked off with a Rakugo workshop at the Japanisches Kulturinstitut in Köln on 5 July, with the up-and-coming rakugoka Shunputei Shoyo, who was a finalist for the NHK Award for Best Rakugo Newcomer in November 2023, introducing his craft. The workshop will be conducted in Japanese and is aimed at children, but Japanese learners are also very welcome.

On 6 July, two events will be held simultaneously: In Köln, the Stiftung Asienhaus will hold the 12th Asia Day at the Haus der Evangelischen Kirche. Focussing on authoritarian developments in Asian countries over the past years, the event features several lectures and discussion roundtables looking at spaces existing for civil societies in Asia, rights needing to be protected worldwide and the potential of civil international cooperation in contributing to the former two, as well as the exhibition “Extracting Us – Feminism, Coal and Just Transition”, showing Indonesian images of everyday life around abandoned coal mines. In Bonn, the Konfuzius-Institut Bonn e.V. hosts the chamber music concert »Zwischen Bonn und Shanghai« (Between Bonn and Shanghai). With two world premieres, Yin CHIANG (piano) and Mei Mei WEI (violin) combine the different playing styles of contemporary Chinese music with classical works by Johannes Brahms and Dmitri Shostakovich to demonstrate the possibilities of a productive exchange between different musical cultures and traditions.

Towards the end of the month, as every year in July, the Japanisches Kulturinstitut in Köln opens their doors for this year’s Natsumatsuri (summer festival) on 20 July. The program includes Japanese taster courses, games, a film screening and more.

Finally, on 23 July, the EKŌ-Haus in Düsseldorf offers a public guided tour of the temple garden and the Buddhist temple. Even a short tour of the grounds gives an impression of the deep roots of traditional Japanese culture in Buddhism. Both the gardens and the Japanese house demand a sense of mindfulness and quiet contemplation from the visitor. Prior registration is required.

If you want to take a look at more upcoming events or browse our event archive, visit the #window2asia page. While we strive to include as many cultural events related to East Asia that take place in the Rhine Ruhr area as possible, our work does not claim to be exhaustive. If you know of an event that fits the criteria but is not yet included in our overview, please feel free to reach out to us at window2asia@area-ruhr.de.