Teahouse of Artful Serenity

By Lavanya Ramanathan
Thursday, April 17, 2008

To call the upcoming exhibition by Shinji Turner-Yamamoto "challenging" would be an understatement.

To see it -- the way the artist would imagine, anyway -- you'll have to crouch or plain squeeze your way through the door. That's after you've shown the guard your ID and left your shoes outside.

Is all the effort worth it? For even 10 minutes in Turner-Yamamoto's delicious-smelling, meditative space -- oh, yes.

Turner-Yamamoto's show, "Three Windows: Sun, Moon, Star," is installed at the Embassy of Japan's Ippakutei Teahouse, a spare, bare structure constructed amid gardens of bamboo and stone just a few hundred feet from the Rock Creek Parkway. Built in 1960, the teahouse has never before been open to the public.

Beginning tomorrow and for the next two weeks, the teahouse, which is not actually used for tea service, will be open, just for Turner-Yamamoto's show. The Japanese-born artist fuses Eastern elements such as incense, pigments such as "Indian yellow," and meditative spaces with details from his many years in Europe and the West. The scroll in the space dividing the "sun" and "moon and star" rooms depicts a "black rainbow" the artist saw while living in Ireland.

If you go, know that it won't be easy. For starters, visitors with disabilities will not have the easiest time getting through the gardens and up into the teahouse. And you'll have to find the entrance, which is through the alley between the Japanese Embassy and the adjacent Indian Consulate, and bring a photo ID.

But at dusk, around 7:30 (the time the artist recommends a visit), it is an enchanting place, inside and out. Also suggested by the artist: Sit in the two rooms, or outside on one of the benches, and just take it all in.

Free. Open noon-5:30 p.m. Mondays-Wednesday, noon-8 p.m. Thursdays and Fridays, tomorrow through May 2. 2520 Massachusetts Ave. NW. (Groups of 10 or more, call ahead.) 202-238-6949.

Save the Date

[ CONCERT ] Alicia Keys The soulful "No One"-belting diva sold out Love the last time she was in town, but on her next visit, to Verizon Center, there will be a few more seats available. Keys will be on her first mega-tour, dubbed "As I Am," complete with catwalk, projections, backup dancers and -- get this -- outfits (for everyone) designed entirely by Giorgio Armani. The show, which includes Ne-Yo and Jordin Sparks, kicks off this weekend and lands in Washington on June 13 (or see it at Baltimore's First Mariner Arena on June 15). $49.50-$125. 8 p.m. Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW. 202-397-7328.

[ FILM ] International Jewish Film Festival At the end of the month, the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia will launch this eighth annual festival at various venues, including the community center, Arlington's Rosslyn Spectrum and Cinema Arts Theatre in Fairfax. Over two weeks, films from eight nations, including Germany, Israel and the United States, will be featured. On the schedule: "Bad Faith," a comedy about an expecting couple who suddenly must deal with the fact that one of them is Jewish and the other Muslim; and "I Have Never Forgotten You: The Life and Legacy of Simon Wiesenthal," a Nicole Kidman-narrated doc about the famed "Nazi hunter" who survived a concentration camp and made it his life's work to find fugitive Nazis and bring them to trial. Each screening: $3.50-$9.50; opening and closing screenings (with receptions), $25. Various locations April 29-May 15. For schedule and details, visit http://www.jccnv.org.

The District

Today

[ CLOSING ] $5 to Downward Dog Today and tomorrow are your last days to take advantage of the third annual D.C. Yoga Week's cheap classes at more than a dozen studios, including Capitol Hill Yoga, Tranquil Space Yoga and Unity Woods Yoga Center. Participating studios offer daily $5 classes and other discounts. For details, visit http://www.dcyogaweek.com.


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