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Stephan’s Japon – July 09

July means matsuri, national holidays, food stalls and fireworks! I am sure Canadians will party on the 1st and Americans on the 4th, but do you know why we, the Frenchies, will party in the middle of July? Got it? Yes, the 14th is Bastille Day – The French Revolution, baby!

Remember the painting of Eugene Delacroix, called "Liberty leading the people"? No, OK, well, for those who don’t care about painting but do like their music, remember the cover of the last Coldplay album, Viva la vida, the one with a topless woman wearing a phrygian bonnet and carrying the tricolore? Have you got it now? Like I said – French Revolution, baby! And thanks to that painting, nowadays, every summer in the South of France, French women go topless on the beach! Yes we can! Everywhere in France we celebrate this date by watching fireworks, drinking, and dancing all night long to the beloved sounds of our accordions.

July is also the month where every French person jumps on their bicycle, or jumps in front of the TV to follow Le Tour de France. As Lance Armstrong decided to get back in the game this year, the organizers decided to start the Tour from Monaco on July 4th. This was arranged so that the seven-times winner of the race could celebrate his national holiday at the casinos and spend more money in the luxury brand shops. Just kidding! French people truly love the man and as this taxi driver told me last summer in Paris, "Ha, Armstrong, what a destiny! His grandfather was a  great jazz singer and trumpet player, his father walked on the moon, and he is now the fastest postman in the world!" Vraiment?

Anyway, the Tour de France will end on July 26th on the Champs-Élysées, under the Arc de Triomphe. The winner gets a yellow T-shirt, a kiss from Madame Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and a listen to the French national hymn, "La Marseillaise". If only they could play the Serge Gainsbourg reggae version… Bring on the Champagne! Now let’s get peddling on our own Tour du Japon to discover this month’s incoming French events.

On the 12th, head to l’Institut de Tokyo for the "Célébration de la Fête Nationale" (a French national holiday garden party). The one and only "Baguette Bardot" will be in attendance, so don’t miss it! Later on the 12th, continue on to the France Tokyo, a monthly French party in Tokyo, for a danse ().

An exhibition to commemorate legendary architect Le Corbusier’s work on the National Museum of Western Art building will be held at the NMWA until August (www.nmwa.go.jp).

Enjoy a couple of French music concerts, on July 3rd and 5th, at Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall. "Musiques festiv’ à Yokohama" is the name of the event (website ici).

Check out the Louvre museum exhibition at the National Museum of Art Osaka (www.nmao.go.jp), which runs through until September 23rd, and also drop by the French-Japanese exhibition "DIFRANCE 2" at the Hyogo International Plaza Gallery. You can celebrate Bastille Day with a party on Saturday 11th in Osaka () and another one on the afternoon of Sunday 12th at the French Institute of Kyoto (www.ifjkansai.or.jp).

Make the most of the French national holiday with a "Soirée d’Été" on Tuesday the 14th ().

Shizuoka will end its yearly Springs Arts Festival with some classical French theatre french productions at the Shizuoka Arts Center on the 4th and 5th (spac.or.jp).

Friday 10th July marks a night of publivores with a festival celebrating the most famous/interesting TV commercials from around the world (www.cmfestival.com). From the 1st through to the 12th, you can enjoy "The Treasure of French Movies" at a film festival at the Fukuoka City Public Library Movie Hall Ciné-là (www.cinela.com).


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