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TO NOVEMBER 29
Walk down a neighborhood shopping street in either big-city or small-town Japan and you’ll definitely be in the 20th-century world of convenience stores, yakitori bars, and comic-book emporiums. Look up at the roof of the local fire station, however, and you may see firefighters practicing the rope-crawling acrobatics that are their centuries-old tradition. And stumble upon a seasonal festival, and you’ll be enveloped by traditional dancers, drummers, street performers, and shrine-bearers. In honor of its dazzling new exhibit, “Edo: Art in Japan 1615-1868,” the National Gallery is bringing some of these traditional artists and artisans—whose specialties began to flourish during the prosperous years of the Edo period—to Washington for a three-week festival. Included are festival dancers (Nov. 13-15), taiko drummers (Nov. 14 & 15), bamboo jugglers and “toad oil vendor” sword tricksters (Nov. 15-18), firemen acrobats (Nov. 20-22, pictured), Kabuki actors (Nov. 20-22), and Nihon Buyo dancers, whose style is derived from the geisha tradition (Nov. 27-29). For fans of less strenuous activities, there will also be demonstrations of ikebana or flower arranging (Nov. 19-22). At the National Gallery of Art’s East Building atrium and auditorium, 4th & Constitution NW. Free, but advance tickets are required for some performances. (202) 737-4215. (Mark Jenkins)