Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, Cherry Walk (photo: Antonio M. Rosario)
By Jacquelin Carnegie – (New York, NY)
In this “gorgeous mosaic," as former Mayor Dinkins christened it, you can find entertainment and culinary delights from just about every nation. Here are some delightful ways to experience Japanese culture in New York:
Stroll in a Japanese Garden
Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden - Brooklyn Botanical Gardens
900 Washington Ave., Brooklyn, NY; Tel: 718/623-7200; www.bbg.org
Imagine you’re in Japan as you stroll through this lovely garden with winding paths, a pond and waterfall, picturesque bridges, and a traditional Shinto shrine. The garden is especially delightful during cherry blossom season (April-May).
Delve into Japanese Culture
Japan Society (photo: Peter Aaron/Esto)
333 East 47th St.; Tel: 212/832-1155; www.japansociety.org
The Japan Society is on a tree-lined plaza right by the United Nations. Step inside this tranquil space, designed by architect Junzo Yoshimura, and be immersed in Japanese culture. Come here for interesting art exhibitions and a roster of cultural programs: films, concerts, dance, and lectures, even Japanese language classes.
Noguchi Museum & Garden
9-01 33rd Rd., Long Island City, NY; Tel: 718/204-7088; www.noguchi.org
The Noguchi Museum (photo: Elizabeth Felicella)
The museum showcases the work of famed Japanese-American designer Isamu Noguchi. There’s a lovely garden, with around 25 of his sculptures on display, and a small café with tea and light snacks.
Visit Japanese Galleries Galore
Asia Week New York www.asiaweekny.com
March annually; (Download a map & guide.)
Kamoda Shoji, Joan B. Mirviss
Every March, Asia Week highlights work by Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian artists in 43+ galleries, museums, and Asian cultural institutions throughout the city. Even after the week of special exhibitions is over, you can visit the galleries to see some truly-spectacular Japanese art, from ancient through contemporary. Start with these three: Joan B. Mirviss Ltd - Japanese ceramics; Carole Davenport – Japanese photography; Kaikodo – Japanese & Chinese antiquities.
Enjoy Japanese Refreshments
In New York, Japanese restaurants abound, from pricey to reasonable. Everyone has a favorite spot; for top-notch sushi try: Yama (122 East 17th St., at Irving Pl.; Tel: 212/475-0969; yamasushinyc.com).
Urasenke Tea Ceremony Society
153 East 69th St.; Tel: 212/988-6161; www.urasenkeny.org
Once a month, Wed, 5:30pm; Fee, reservation required
Demonstration of the Way of Tea: Partake in and learn about the history of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Shop for Japanese Goodies
1073 Sixth Ave., at 41st St.; Tel: 212/869-1700
This amazing store is filled with three floors of everything Japanese from books to music CDs, movie DVDs, anime, and souvenirs. There’s also a nice selection of English-language tomes and an array of fun gift items. On the top floor, overlooking Bryant Park, Café Zaiya serves Japanese dessert specialties and sushi.
ChopsticksNY: A great resource for all things Japanese in NYC; find restaurants, shops, and events.
Experience Japanese Hospitality
Deco Japan, Japan Society
The Kitano Hotel New York
66 Park Ave., at 38th St.; Tel: 212/885-7000; www.kitano.com
Although only a few of the rooms have actual tatami mats, the hotel prides itself on Japanese hospitality. There’s a Japanese restaurant and a terrific gift shop with nifty items from Japan, Asia, and Europe.