Japan Society, 333 E. 47th St.; japansociety.org
Classes at Japan Society are taught out of a Junzo Yoshimura–designed building (it’s been designated a New York landmark and houses indoor gardens, an art gallery, and a reflecting pool). There are 13 levels of courses for Japanese speakers of all abilities, from beginner classes on grammar and vocabulary to mid-tier classes that introduce more complex sentence structures. Upper-level courses tend to be more conversational — members chat about Japanese cult-favorite films like Tampopo or TV series like Midnight Diner. All of the classes, though, incorporate aspects of cultural education — such as how to bow or exchange business cards in Japan — alongside the nuts and bolts of language-learning. Arturo González Lozano, a film producer, says that after taking an intro course, he was able to make restaurant reservations for his boss’s upcoming trip to Japan. Plus the classes are really fun, climate researcher Venkat Lakshmanan says. He shows up early to take advantage of the building’s library, which has a large collection of books on Japanese language and culture — he recently checked one out on ukiyo-e art. For nonmembers, courses start at $320 for ten weeks.
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