Tue-Thu, 11am-6pm; Fri 11am-9pm; Sat-Sun, 11am-5pm; Mon, closed
4, 5, 6, 7, S at Grand Central-42nd St.; 6 at 51st St.; E, M at Lexington Ave.-53rd St.
$10, $8 students and seniors, free for members and children under 16,
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
One block from the United Nations, this five-floor cultural center has a perennially fashionable interior that brings together clean lines, natural elements and an airy lightness. The main lobby, subtly lit by wooden, slatted ceiling fixtures, holds a Japanese bamboo garden and waterfall by the stairwell, which opens up to a view of more greenery on the second floor. The Society, founded in 1907, engages its largely American audience with an innovative program of art, theater and film, which often highlights work that reinterprets ancient and classical Japanese forms. Though there’s no permanent art collection, the gallery hosts two prominent exhibits and a smaller summer exhibit each year, the subjects of which have spanned early Buddhist sculpture, Isamu Noguchi's ceramic art, and contemporary photography. Meanwhile, such stage pieces as noh and kyogen dramas, avant-garde dance and puppetry by Basil Twist keep the theatrical program lively. The language center offers beginning to advanced courses in Japanese, as well as English conversation classes. There are also nearly 50 lectures and talks a year on topics ranging from architecture to poetry to sake.Classes & Lectures
The Toyota Language Center offers 12 levels of Japanese courses, plus additional workshops. Students at the Center (as well as Society members) have access to the C.V. Starr Library, which contains more than 14,000 books (mostly in English) on Japanese subjects.
A basic membership includes free admission to gallery exhibitions, invitations to openings and members-only events, discounts on events, classes and publications, and free use of the library. The partially tax-deductible fee is $60 for individuals, $95 for families and $40 for students and seniors.