7 Ways to Experience Japanese Culture in NYC

New York City is hosting some amazing Japanese events this month—and we couldn’t be more excited.

Photo by Nick Wood/Unsplash

Japan might be more than 6,700 miles away from New York—but when it comes to celebrating the nation’s rich heritage and culture, there’s always something going on in the city. Whether you’re looking to develop an appreciation for the country’s cuisine, music, art, or fashion sense, these events will immerse you in its awesome beauty and history—without having to cross the Pacific.

Japan Night

This Sunday, catch Misia—one of Japan’s most beloved songstresses—at Sony Hall, where the bestselling singer and record producer (winner of best vocal performance at the 60th annual Japan Record Awards) will take the stage. Cartoon Network’s pop-rock band Puffy AmiYumi will also be on deck for the lively show, held in celebration of Japanese pop music.

Earlier in the evening, at the nearby Playstation Theater, Japanese rock legend Hyde will jam with Tokyo-based Wagakki Band, famed for fusing traditional Japanese musical instruments, poetry, and rock. Sunday, May 12; Sony Hall, 235 West 46th Street (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown; 9 p.m. and Playstation Theater, 1515 Broadway (between Seventh and Eighth Avenues), Midtown; 6 p.m. $40 advanced, $45 at the door for Misia; $35 advanced, $40 at the door for Hyde

Photo courtesy of Misia/Facebook

Japan Day at Central Park

The 13th annual Japan Day at Central Park kicks off with a four-mile run at 8 a.m. followed by a fun-filled festival at 9:30, when numerous acts—including a yosakoi performance, a karate demonstration, and a Japanese poem recitation—will take place. Fill your belly with onigiri, gyoza, and okonomiyaki and spend the afternoon folding origami, mastering the art of calligraphy, or learning the ways of the samurai. Try on a traditional yukata (a casual kimono) and paint your face Kabuki-style…then be sure to pay a visit to the Hello Kitty photo booth to show off your new look. Sunday, May 12; 8 a.m.–4 p.m.; Naumburg Bandshell (enter Central Park at 69th Street and Fifth Avenue); free

Tea Ceremony and Origami

Partake in an authentic Japanese tea ceremony with your little one at this special event at the Japan Society, where kids ages 6–10 and their parents are invited to learn about “the way of tea.” Lessons on how to fold your own origami art will also take place over the summer. The workshops are free for guests ages 2 and under (along with the institution’s Cool Club members), but all other attendees must purchase tickets online in advance. Tea Ceremony: Sunday, May 12 and Origami: Sunday, June 9; both 2:30–4 p.m.; Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street (between First and Second Avenues), Midtown; $8 for members, $15 for nonmembers

Photo by Masaaki Komori/Unsplash

Masahiko Uotani: Japan, the Next Epicenter of Innovation

Want to sharpen your business acumen? Hear Shiseido president and CEO Masahiko Uotani discuss his plan for reviving business growth in Japan and expanding the cosmetics company’s global reach as part of the Cosmetic Executive Women’s Speaker Series. Thursday, June 6; 5:30–7:30 p.m.; Roosevelt Hotel, 45 East 45th Street (between Madison and Vanderbilt Avenues), Midtown; $195 for CEW members, $295 for nonmembers

Photo courtesy of Shiseido/Facebook

“Noguchi and Hasegawa in Postwar Japan”

This traveling exhibition showcases the collaborative efforts of prominent 20th-century Japanese artists Isamu Noguchi and Saburo Hasegawa, who together sought to understand and translate the postwar world through their poignant contemporary works. Through Sunday, July 14; Noguchi Museum, 9-01 33rd Road, Long Island City; $10 general admission, $5 for students

Japan Kocarina Ensemble

This fall, head to Carnegie Hall to soak in the mellifluous sounds of the Japan Kocarina Ensemble, whose instruments are made from trees originally razed for the construction of the Kengo Kuma National Stadium for the 2020 Japan Olympics and the lone “miracle pine” that survived the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Led by Kurotaro Kurosaka, the 150-piece orchestra is set to perform classic Japanese and American folk songs with the kocarina, a wooden flute whose warm, delicate tones mimic birdsong, accompanied by taiko drums and the vocal stylings of Kanemi Yaguchi. Sunday, November 10; 2 p.m.; Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall, 881 Seventh Avenue (between West 56th and 57th Streets), Midtown

Photo courtesy of Japan Kocarina Ensemble/Facebook

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