Thursday, June 17, 2010

Empire Prefecture of Mind



The Empire State Building was lit up with the colors of the Japanese flag on Wednesday night to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese diplomatic delegation to New York. I took this picture from the corner of 8th Avenue and 19th Street in my Chelsea neighborhood.

More than 70 samurai, dressed in kimono and carrying swords, were here for a two-week visit. They were received with great fanfare and curiosity by New Yorkers who lined the streets during a "samurai parade" down Broadway. The host city threw lavish parties for their visitors from the Far East, which is always an admirable way to launch a friendship.

I'm looking forward to learning more about the historic mission at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit Samurai in New York: The First Japanese Delegation, 1860 marks the sesquicentennial event with photographs and artifacts from the parade and balls. It opens next Friday, June 25 and runs until October 11.

I'm thrilled I was able to get a glimpse of the Empire State Building while the lights were still red and white. It's another example of finding Japan in New York.

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