Arts ~ Festival of Life and Infinity Nets.

The famed Japanese avant-garde sculptor and painter, Yayoi Kusama is coming back around again to debut new infinity rooms next month in New York.

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The show will open on 02 November and take place at three separate David Zwirner locations: downtown, Chelsea and the Upper East Side. There will be two new Infinity Mirror Rooms and of course the artist’s signature polka dots. Expect lots of colourful  lights downtown, cool stainless steel orbs in Chelsea and a lovely painting series uptown. Get ready to queue up and enjoy the art and Instagram mania.

Festival of Life and Infinity Nets are on view at David Zwirner, 525 and 533 West 19th Street and 34 East 69th Street, November 2–December 16, 2017.

Arts ~ 村上 隆

Contemporary Tokyo-born artist, Takashi Murakami unveiled a new exhibition, “Learning the Magic of Painting” this week in Paris.

The mixed media works feature pop art blended with Japanese culture from A to Z: anime, Buddha, cartoon characters and dragons to traditional Zen. The bright and cute items span three spaces with colourful psychedelic themes.

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The first floor pays homage to the British painter, Francis Bacon with a series of sensational sculptures. Then there’s a room filled with textured tiles of the artist’s signature skulls. The other space shows over 15 painted handbags accompanied by paintings. For viewers, this will be art on a different level.

Explore the exhibition at the Galerie Perrotin which is on display until 23 December.

 

 

Culture ~ Japan Week 2016

Today starts Japan Week, a promotional event organized by the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) in New York.

Visitors can discover and experience art, crafts, clothing, food, technology and travel in Japanese culture through their five senses at Grand Central Terminal.

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Broadcasting organization, NHK World sharing the scenes of Japan Week. Photo: Niya Sinckler.

Hearing:

Listen to artistic instructions of how to apply Kabuki makeup. Create crafts such as lovely Kinchaku hand purses, beautiful Kaga Yuzen handkerchiefs and cool origami configurations. Win collectible items or a Hatsune Miku concert ticket, Japan’s favourite fictional character who changes the way music is made today.

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Hatsune Miku. Photo: Google.

Sight:

Watch JNTO feature performances from Ishikawa. Participate in kimino fittings, I remember when I wore my first one as seen below. Learn about the traditional symbol of beauty, cherry blossoms or sakura (桜 or 櫻; さくら in Japanese) that bloom every spring. View the beautiful pink petals in Vanderbilt Hall. Guess the cherry blossom blooming date in Hirosaki to win a trip to Japan!

I have been three times Japan already in 2006, 2007 and 2008. It’s truly an amazing country with warm hospitality. Missing my Japanese friends now and memories of karaoke during the weekends. The JNTO Tourism Booth can provide you with information on city highlights, castles, temples, hot springs and festivals across Japan with free maps and brochures in English and Japanese.

Touch:

Venture to the Hokkaido booth to try on traditional clothing from the Ainu, (アイヌ in Japanese) indigenous people from Japan  and understand the natural wonders of the region.

Smell:

The 120 year old company, Kubara Honke is showcasing their Japanese seasonings and locally sourced natural products such as Dashi cooking broth, dressings and tea. Sip on tradition. From there, your nose will wonder over to the delicious or oishii (美味しい/ おいしいin Japanese) offerings.

Taste:

Food and innovative technology combine to provide a traditional cuisine serving of kaiten sushi (conveyor belt sushi). Restaurants will recommend their renowned seafood. Then my favourite place, Mitsuwa Marketplace will be selling Hokkaido ikameshi (rice stuffed squid), corn soup and Tohoku’s local root vegetable, dried gobo. Cosmopolitan items including miso ramen noodles, chocolates and candy are available too. At these stands, visitors will learn why Hokkaido is a major agricultural and culinary center.

Travel:

Delta Airlines, New York’s ever-growing carrier will be offering non-stop flights to Tokyo. Visitors can experience Business Elite Seat and receive vouchers for travel. Additionally, you can learn about JR-EAST, Japan’s largest railway company and the high speed train, shinkansen coming soon to connect Tokyo, Tohoku and Hokkaido.

Japan Week is a collaborative event between JNTO and over 40 exhibitors from New York and Japanese governments, businesses and travel agencies are in attendance. Walk around and find what excites you. Who knows the international television network, NHK World might even interview you. Join now from 10-12 March 2016. Follow the latest updates on Facebook and Twitter. For more information on travel to Japan: www.us.jnto.go.jp

Culture ~ Bar Goto

After devoting a few years at Pegu Club, talented owner Kenta Goto unveiled a new summer destination this week in New York.

The Lower East Side welcomed Bar Goto as a Japanese style cocktail bar accompanied by delicious dishes.

From the moment of arrival, there’s a bouncer checking ID – like you really need it but in we go. Dim lighting and moderate conversations fill the space around the dark furnishings. Bar stools or small tables are the option for seating.

The bar menu consists of quintessential Japanese beers and creative cocktails with an Asian twist including sake, wasabi, shochu and miso. Try the sakura martini or matcha milk punch to cool down. My drink of choice was the watermelon cucumber cooler shown below, a very light and refreshing mix.

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For food, chef Kiyo Shinoki prepares comfort bites such as tasty kobu celery and spiced miso wings. Practice using those chopsticks! Then the okonomiyaki (grilled as you like in English translation) is the highlight of the visit. These savory pancake small plates are offered in five different varieties. My choice was the Fisherman’s (octopus, shrimp and squid) accompanied by ginger and bonito flakes photographed above. To be fair, it was the best I’ve had outside of Tokyo.

If you’re looking for a Friday night lounge, quick drink with a colleague or first date venue, this Japanese restaurant is the place to be. Walk ins are welcome, enjoy!

Address: 245 Eldridge Street bet East Houston and Stanton Street. Tel: 212 475 4411