Today is the third and last day of Japan Week in Vanderbilt Hall of Grand Central Terminal. The primary highlight is a Zen garden, offered as a respite for busy New Yorkers. Delineated in the space by bamboo panels, the Zen garden features different shaped small boulders atop white gravel with small trees emerging from mounds of moss. Daily, the designers of the Zen garden do a demonstration raking the white gravel into wave patterns and at the workshops, visitors can try their hand at creating designs.
According to Japan Week, the Zen garden “expresses a legend about the birth of Japan.” According to the legend of “Ooyashima” derived from Kojiki, the oldest Japanese history book, the islands of Japan were born when two gods, Izanagi and Izanami, united.
The garden designers – Yuri Ugaya, Kensaku Yamaguchi and Tatsuhiko Kobayashi – are all based in Kyoto. Ugaya is a garden designer and consultant, while Yamguchi and Kobayashi are “niwashi” garden designers and caretakers who specialize in Japanese gardens.
Around the Zen garden there are many booths showcasing what Japan has to offer, including information on Japan’s high speed train, the Shinkansen, Fujifilm products, ITO-EN green tea, Japan Airlines, and places to travel.
Today’s Zen Garden demonstration is from 3:30 to 4:30 PM and the workshops are from 1 to 2 PM and 5 to 6 PM. This year’s Japan Week also honors Chiune Sugihara, the Japanese Vice-Consul in Lithuania during World War II who issued about 6000 visas to European Jews fleeing Nazi persecution. This year, those visas, known as Visas for Life or Sugihara visas, and connected documents are nominated to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. The selection will take place this summer.
Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of Grand Central Terminal.