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Photo: Andreana Bitsis

A Zen Garden Just Took Over Grand Central

Subway advertising for vacationing in foreign countries has gone up in the age of global travel, with a recent focus on Japan that has compelled several New Yorkers to make Tokyo one of their next big travel destinations. In honor of Japan Week this past Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, March 8, 9, and 10th, a massive Zen Garden complete with sand, trees and rocks was installed in Grand Central’s Vanderbilt Hall. Designed by Yuri Ugaya, the exhibit was also home to practical zen gardening demonstrations in which Japanese garden designers guided participants through the process of combing their own wave patterns in the garden’s white gravel.

The goal of the exhibit was to foster a sense of peace amid the commuter chaos that typifies Grand Central– one of New York City’s largest transit hubs– at a time when silence and meditation seem to be the key to achieving inner peace. By placing a massive, meditative art installation amid the frenzy of movement, New Yorkers were invited to reflect on the transience of Life (and their own commutes).

According to From Japan‘s blog, “the famous ‘Zen circle,’ or enso, is often painted as an incomplete or imperfect circle to symbolize that imperfection is a part of life. However, there can still be a sense of balance in the asymmetry. Another important concept is Yugen, which can be translated in many ways including ‘a subtle grace,’ ‘hidden beauty,’ and ‘mysterious profundity.'” By giving commuters a chance to stop and experiment with these forms, outer work helps achieve inner beauty. “As you work on your garden,” From Japan points out, “You will start to understand these concepts and recognize them in the world around you.”

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