There are a range of art forms practiced across Asia from origami in Japan to embroidery in India. Similarly the music is as varied as Chinese Opera to Russian composers such as Tchaikovsky. Take a literary tour following Graham Greene through Ho Chi Minh, listen to oral poetry in Kazakhstan or a classical music concert in Kolkata. There’s plenty here for the eyes, ears and creative senses.
- Beijing Opera, China
For an almost swashbuckling production of action, singing, dialogue, mime, acrobatic fighting and dancing head to Beijing’s old opera houses, most of which now have nightly performances for tourists.
- Music, art and literature, Moscow
The music, ballets and operas of the great Russian composers and the writings of the Russian literary greats are famed. And the wealth of the Russian Tsars and the patronage of late 19th century industrialists helped form some of the world’s greatest art collections. In Moscow you can visit a wealth of art treasures during the day, including the Old Tretyakov, Armoury and Pushkin museums. And then spend a night at the Bolshoi Theatre (opera or ballet) or listen to a concert at the Moscow Conservatory or the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall.
- Oral poetry, Kazakhstan
Before the 19th century Kazakh literature was mainly recited in the form of songs, proverbs, tales and epic poems. There was no actual written language. Contests, known as aitys, took place in which bards contended with each other. Recitals and poetry style singing contests are still very popular today.
- Classical music, India
Kolkata is the cultural capital of India and the place to go for concerts featuring sitars and other traditional instruments. Classical concerts are held all the time although the most famed is the Dover Lane Music Conference in January.
- Throat singing, Mongolia
It’s hard to describe the phenomenon that is throat singing; a gurgling, resonating sound where the singer manipulates the voice box to produce a melody. It is thought it was born amongst herders who mimicked nature’s sounds on the wide-open steppe. In summer daily performances are held in local theatres in the capital Ulaanbaatar.
- Graham Greene literary tours, Vietnam
Transport yourself back to the pages of the Quiet American during a visit to Ho Chi Minh City where he set his characters in his book about the failing days of French Colonial rule. Visit the places Greene lived or visited in Rue Catinat (now Dong Khoi) including the sumptuous Majestic Hotel where he stayed, the Palais Café where his character Fowler frequented, Greene’s apartments and the Continental hotel, a popular journalist hangout.
- Kutch mirror work, Gujurat, India
Ethnic embroidery and textiles are famed in Kutch, particularly that produced by the Rabaris who sew mirrors into their stitches. Applique in patchwork quilts is also popular. Textiles can be found throughout Kutch in villages and major centers.
- St Petersburg, Russia
The grand imperial city of the Russian Tsars boasts an overwhelming collection of art at the Hermitage Museum. It is also renowned for its vast musical heritage and institutions such as the St Petersburg Philharmonia and the Mariinsky (former Kirov) Theatre.
- Tibetan Buddhist chanting
This kind of chanting is really a sub-genre of throat singing as most often the chants hold to the lower pitches capable in throat singing. Various ceremonies and prayers call for throat singing in Tibetan Buddhism, often with more than one monk chanting at a time. Visit any monastery during prayers and you will be privileged to hear it.
- Tokyo museums, Japan
Go nuts on the incredible list of museums in the beating heart of the capital city. Appreciate traditional arts such as origami, ceramics, calligraphy or screen painting along with the modern range of advertisements, anime and video games.