A yearlong series of cultural events has been launched in Britain to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the establishment of relations with Japan.

The so-called Japan400 cultural festival will see some 100 events explore the adventurous spirit behind the first exchanges between the two countries, and the subsequent development in the areas of art, science, trade, enterprise, technology and lifestyle through the present day.

Highlights will include "Anjin," a play to be performed at Sadler's Wells Theatre in London based on William Adams, the maritime pilot believed to be the first Englishman to reach Japan. Adams, who arrived on Japan's shores in 1600 aboard the Dutch ship Liefde, helped set up the first trading post for the East India Company and acted as an adviser to Japan's shogunate.