In which culture does a week last only three days? Whereas I currently don’t have a good – or sarcastic – response to that question, I will confess that it’s a treat whenever the annual Japan Week rolls into Grand Central terminal in New York. This year, it’s happening…right now! Until tomorrow evening. So hop a train, plane or boat to Midtown Manhattan – or go straight to Japan. Either way.
Since I learned about the event three years ago, I’ve been paying a visit to Vanderbilt Hall, the part of Grand Central in which it’s held. Although it was larger in the past, that doesn’t mean it was better. This year, they made up for it slightly with the addition kaitenzushi (回転寿司/かいてんずし), aka a gimmicky but no less amusing conveyor belt sushi-style eatery, sponsored in part, by the US-based Japanese supermarket chain Mitsuwa Marketplace.
So, about those exhibitors…
Every year I’ve attended, JR East, the railway company serving Tokyo and north/northeastern Honshu (the largest Japanese island), has a display that belittles Amtrak. Of course, that’s not their main objective…but I don’t mind. New for this month: the Shinkansen (新幹線/ しんかんせん), their highly lauded bullet train, will connect Honshu with Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island.
Not exactly the corn flakes for the breakfast bowl. Maybe as a topping for Japanese pizza?
In part, due to the shinkansen finally reaching Hokkaido, Hokkaido is a theme of this year’s Japan Week. Sapporo is the largest city on that island, and its name graces this common sight in Japan – a tissue pack.
Clearly, I should be employed as a menu writer.
I’ll be back next year, but as for this year, take a look tomorrow at Grand Central!