Established in 1907, New York's Japan Society has evolved into North America's single major producer of high-quality content on Japan for an English-speaking audience. Presenting over 100 events annually through well established Corporate, Education, Film, Gallery, Lectures, Performing Arts and Innovators Network programs, the Society is an internationally recognized nonprofit, nonpolitical organization that provides access to information on Japan, offers opportunities to experience Japanese culture, and fosters sustained and open dialogue on issues important to the U.S., Japan, and East Asia.
Among the premier institutions in the U.S. for the presentation of Japanese art, Japan Society organizes three world-class exhibitions annually. Every season, the Society presents over 30 performances of Japan's traditional performing arts and cutting-edge contemporary dance, music and theater in its 262-seat auditorium. Film screenings range from classics series to festivals of today's most popular new cinema. In addition, high-profile conferences, symposia and receptions offer unparalleled access to international business and policy leaders. Further educational programs include cultural lectures, student and teacher workshops, family programs that explore Japan's culture and customs, and language classes at the world-renowned Toyota Language Center. One of Japan Society's newest endeavors, the U.S.-Japan Innovators Network, identifies and connects leading social entrepreneurs from every sector to improve mutual understanding and the quality of life throughout the world.
Japan Society was founded on May 19, 1907, by a group of prominent New York business people and philanthropists, many of whom shaped the policies of exchange and collaboration that guided it through the 1930s until the outbreak of World War II. After the war, activities slowly resumed, and the stewardship of John D. Rockefeller 3rd from 1952-78 led to a unified vision and a firm financial foundation with a revitalized mission "to bring the people of the United States and Japan closer together in appreciation and understanding of each other."
Built on land donated by Rockefeller, Japan Society's landmark building was designed by architect Junzo Yoshimura and opened in 1971 as the first building by a leading Japanese architect in New York City. Located near the United Nations on 47th Street and First Avenue across the street from Dag Hammarskjld Plaza park--just a short walk from Grand Central Station--activities at Japan Society are set against a stunning backdrop of indoor gardens, a reflecting pool and a waterfall. Furnished with a superb collection of tables, chairs and benches designed by master woodworker George Nakashima, the facilities include a 262-seat theater, art gallery, language center, library, conference facilities and over three floors of administrative space. The classic elegance and simplicity of Yoshimura's original vision has been preserved even as the building has been enhanced by a substantial renovation completed in 1998. In 2006 the Society opened a high-end boutique shop nestled on the second floor next to the gallery.