One of our favorite foreign culture places in Rome is the Japan Foundation in the beautiful area between Valle Giulia and the posh borough of Parioli, in Via Antonio Gramsci 74. While walking towards the Japanese Culture Institute of Rome, you already feel a real Japanese atmosphere. The building is also very impressive, built by the Japanese architect Isoya in the 1960s and reproducing the Heian style (9th-12th centuries). It is in concrete of course but inside there is a lot of wood and the typical sliding doors, the shoji.
The newly appointed director decided to show for the first time in many years the art collection of the Institute. But there are so many artworks that they had to organize two exhibitions. The first one, running until February 23, will display contemporary Japanese prints by artists such as Kusama, Arakawa, Kato, Fujiwara and Tomimoto. Whereas from March 14 to May 2 you will be able to see paintings (Japanese and Western schools), ceramics and decorative art items. Japanese style paintings by Higashiyama, Fukuda and Maeda will be on show next to Western-oriented canvases by Okada, Saito and Wakita. Ceramics and other art objects will be represented by artists Masahiko and Shiro. Free Entrance. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 9am-12:30pm, 1:30pm-6:30pm. Wednesday 9am-12:30pm, 1:30pm-5:30pm. Saturday from 9am to 1 pm.
The Japan Foundation also organizes Japanese language courses and has a nice free library with also many books and magazines in English language about all aspects of Japan. And from March 26 it will open its gardens on Fridays (5pm-7pm) and Saturdays (10am-12pm). Free visit, booking recommended at +39063224794. Furthermore, Japanese film lovers will be able to see masterworks by Masumura every Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7pm in original version with English subtitles until March 24. Free Entrance.
If you are into more ancient Japanese art, the National Museum of Asian Art – Museo Nazionale d’Arte Orientale – in via Merulana should be your destination for its Japanese collections.
A good choice of books about Japan is available at Orientalia Libri with a wide choice of texts from all over Asia in Italian, English and Asian languages and at Doozo which is also a restaurant, an exposition venue, a Japanese civilization school and a tea house. Doozo, located in Via Palermo 51, will organize a Japanese handicraft market on March 6. Another kind of Japanese market, more tilted towards pop and neogothic items, is organized every month in Via Casilina 713. The next one will be on February 27. Traditional Japanese objects can be bought at Giapponeria Sakurashu, in Via Ceneda 13, at Meluoki, via dei Coronari 224, and Giochi di Seta, same road number 144, while contemporary no-brand products are on sale at Muji, in via del Tritone 199. In via Margutta 21, Urushi sells Japanese furniture.
Finally here is our top ten of Japanese restaurants in Rome.
Zen Sushi in via degli Scipioni 243 (with kaiten)
Hamasei in via della Mercede 35 (oldest in town)
Hasekura in via dei Serpenti 27
Somo in via Goffredo Mameli 5 (only for dinner, Japanese fusion cuisine)
Take Sushi Viale Trastevere 4
Sushisen Via Giuseppe Giulietti 21a (with kaiten)
Bishoku Kobo Via Ostiense 110 (cheap, with the traditional food displays)
Kyo3 Via di Donna Olimpia 250 (free wifi)
Shinto Via Ludovisi 39
Taki Via Marianna Dionigi 56