By Alex Cullina, Staff Writer
The Japanese National Tourism Organization put on its seventh annual Japan Week from March 14 to 17 at Grand Central Terminal’s Vanderbilt Hall. Free and open to the public, Japan Week showcased Japanese culture, food, art and travel.
The expo was made up of booths put on by several Japanese and New York-based companies promoting and selling their products and services, including the photography company Fujifilm, maker of the popular Instax instant still camera.
Other vendors included tea manufacturer Ito En and Royce’s Chocolate, both based in Japan, and Wuhao, a New York-based retailer of Japanese-made tenugui, traditional cotton hand-towels.
Besides Japanese cultural products, Japan Week also showcased businesses that offer travel experiences both to and within Japan, including railway companies Odakyu and the Tobu Group.
Wednesday’s opening ceremony and ribbon-cutting included short remarks from Reiichiro Takahashi, Ambassador to the Consulate General of Japan in New York, and Ryoichi Matsuyama, President of the Japan National Tourism Organization.
The theme for this year’s Japan Week was 3-D trick art, a form of interactive public art popular in Japan that JNTO President Matsuyama described as “highly Instagramable.” Taken from the correct angle, a photo of a person standing in front of a 3-D trick art backdrop gives the illusion that they themselves are a part of the picture. The event featured seven of the pieces, including two sponsored by vendors.
Ambassador Takahashi explained in his speech that Japan Week works to foster a better relationship and cultural understanding between the two countries, to showcase Japan’s “charm and beauty,” and to bring “our countries ever closer in friendship.”
JNTO President Matsuyama’s remarks stressed his hopes that the event would “entice international travelers to immerse themselves more fully” in Japan’s culture, and especially its lesser known tourist sites. “We hope you get to know Japan’s multifaceted allure,” he said.