The Museum of Chinese in America
The newly renamed Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA) will move to a different location in New York City next fall, and last night I attended a dinner that helped to raise funds for the new, Maya Lin-designed structure.
Formerly called the Museum of Chinese in the Americas, MOCA is seeking submissions for its StoryMap moca.localprojects.net, an online archive that links personal stories with Google Maps. The website has already drawn stories and photos from people who immigrated from mainland China, Hong Kong, Cambodia, South Korea, and Ecuador. There are also submissions from ABCs (American-Born Chinese).
The new 14,000-square-foot gallery space will occupy the 200 block on Centre Street between Chinatown and Nolita, increasing the size of the museum by more than five times. The existing venue at 70 Mulberry St. will be converted into an archival research center. MOCA is also planning to digitize its collection of 60,000 letters, photos, and artifacts.
Until the new building is finished, MOCA is still open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 12 to 6 p.m. at 70 Mulberry St. The museum also offers weekly Chinatown walking tours in English. Tours can be given in Chinese upon request. 1 p.m. Saturdays, $12 adults, $10 students/seniors.
212/619-4785, mocanyc.org, admission $2 adults, $1 students, $1 seniors 65 plus, free for children under 12 and on Fridays.
MORE BY AMY CHEN A visit to the Balloon Fiesta.
Tokyo's dynamic fashion districts
Hitting bookstores today, The Tokyo Look Book offers a colorful peek at what the kids are wearing these days on the sidewalks and catwalks of the capital city. Check out our slide show of images from the book. It captures the agony and ecstasy of high school, with a uniquely Japanese twist. The author, British anthropologist Philomena Keet, recently stopped by our office to chat about the making of the book ($30, barnesandnoble.com). Keet listed for us the must-see neighborhoods for travelers who want to see Tokyo's street styles for themselves. Here are the areas to head for and what to expect when you get there: Shibuyu and Harajuku are the main centers of Tokyo's youth fashion scenes. Weekends—when all the kids change from school uniforms to full subculture gear—are especially vibrant. Make sure to check out the groups standing on Jingubashi Bridge next to the Harajuku station, wander around the backstreets of Harajuku, and visit Shibuyu 109 mall, where many of the trendiest boutiques are located. As a little antidote to all the frills and youth of Harajuku, check out the nearby Aoyama area; you'll find avant garde high fashion boutiques, such as the Japanese label, Comme des Garçons. Keet also recommends the districts of Daikanyama and Naka-Meguro for great street style without the tourists and wannabes that now clog Harajuku's sidewalks. Marunouchi is where to find a lot of sophisticated, high-fashion, international boutiques (think Louis Vuitton) and salary, or business, men and women. Ginza is another upscale neighborhood to spot more high-end fashion. Akihabara is where the otaku, or geek subculture, like to hang out. It is also know for its high concentration of "maid cafés," a business phenomenon in which male customers are served obsequiously by women dressed as French maids. Another phenomenon, particularly popular in the Shinjuku and Raponggi neighborhoods, is the host club, a nightclub that's the inverse of a geisha house. Women pay extravagant cover fees and drink prices to exchange pleasantries with good-looking, well-dressed, entertaining young men. Keet warns travelers that an evening's bill might easily be over a thousand dollars. "Typically, the clientele for host clubs are women who are night workers themselves. They pay to be treated well, and are often the only ones who can afford it." Luckily, passing these hosts on the street, as one often does in these neighborhoods, is entertainment enough—and free. You can find a lot of vintage stores—often stocked with t-shirts imported from the United States—in Koenji and Shimokitazawa. Youth decked out as rockabillies hang out in Yoyogi Park, during its famous Sunday flea market. MORE ON TOKYO:Dining in Tokyo slide show. Tokyo Air/Hotel for $929 per person, including five nights' accommodations, and sightseeing, for travel by Dec. 5, 2007.
Free ice-skating returns to Manhattan
Workers out in midtown yesterday afternoon may have been surprised to find Bryant Park, a popular lunchtime retreat, transformed into a scene recalling Will Ferrell's hit comedy, "Blades of Glory." Professional skaters were decked out in characteristically sparkly costumes to perform for the grand opening of the Pond at Bryant Park, a small seasonal rink surrounded by trees and gleaming skyscrapers. First up was a pair of lively ice dancers from the country of Georgia, Isabella Tobias and Otar Japaridze, who zipped and toe-picked to what sounded like Georgian folk music. Sinead and John Kerr, four-time British ice dance champions from Scotland, also drew on their roots. They skated to traditional Scottish melodies—including strains of Auld Lang Syne—while sporting a highly untraditional take on tartan... Silvia Fontana, who skated for Italy at the 2006 Turin Olympics, chose a power ballad (Christina Aguilera's "Hurt"), as did Michael Weiss, the first American to land a quadruple toe loop in competition ("I could be your hero, baby"). At the Pond, whose ice can be choppy and prone to puddles, Weiss opted instead for two mid-air flips—not quite as life-threatening as Ferrell's Iron Lotus move, but close! After a number by native New Yorker Kyoko Ina and her partner John Zimmerman, the skating concluded with the crowd-pleasing Haydenettes, a troupe of peppy synchronized skaters who would likely meet the Rockettes' approval. It was neat to be so close to the performers, many of whom are on the Stars on Ice national tour. You can see shots of them in all their glory by clicking on our slide show. Beyond the splashy opening ceremony, the Pond wins kudos for being the city's only rink with free admission—skate rentals will set you back $10—and for its lovely setting. As the holidays approach, more than 100 artisans set up festive stalls in the park (Nov. 17-Dec. 30). The sooner you can take a spin, the better: In mid-January, months before rivals like Rockefeller or Wollman, the Pond closes to make way for the white tents of Fashion Week. Photo of the dramatic Georgian duo Isabella Tobias and Otar Japaridze by Kate Appleton. RELATED: Top 10 Ice-Skating Rinks and Trip Coach: Romantic New York City.
Flickr's upcoming new tricks
There are many free photo-sharing websites, but Flickr is one of the largest, featuring 2.5 million photos uploaded daily by over 15 million members. For travelers, one on the site's most interesting features is its World Map (www.flickr.com/map). The feature takes advantage of the fact that about 42 million of the photos on its sites have been uploaded with geotags—labels like "Ghana" or "St. Paul's" that notes the spot where a photo was snapped. The map currently shows pink circles indicating where recent geotagged photos can be seen. In a month or two, the improved world map will allow members to view the popular tag(s) more easily, noting interesting and newsworthy things going on in a specific location at any given time. When members click on any of the tags on the map, they will see a photo stream of popular and current images from that location. Before you plan a trip to a destination, you can get a lay of the land, like so: And after your trip, you can use Flickr to record what you saw for all the world to see. We'll update you when Flickr makes its change. Flickr can help you buy a camera.
Free bikes in Spain
Barcelona launched its bicycle borrowing program last March and has just announced that it will increase the number of available bikes from 1,500 to 6,000 by the program's second anniversary. You have to sign up online with a credit card and wait for a registration card to be mailed to you. Since the system posts letters to addresses within the country, your best option is to enter into the website the address of the hotel where you'll be staying. Then notify your hotel so they'll know to look out for it. A spokesperson for Barcelona's program has confirmed that this process should work smoothly for American visitors. Weekly subscriptions are €1, or about $1.40; the first 30 minutes are free. You can cycle for up to two hours at a time. The system is open 24 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, but closes between midnight and 5 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays. More info can be found on bicing.com (in Catalan and Spanish only). Seville recently launched a public bike program with 1,500 bikes parked at 150 stations across the city... The system requires that you subscribe for a week (or year), which you can do at kiosks at every bike stand. (We're looking into whether the machines accept credit cards without a chip in them. Updates on that will be posted within the week.) A downloadable map—and more details—are available—in Spanish only—at www.sevici.es. A weekly subscription costs €5 (about $7) and the first 30 minutes are free. Note: Córdoba also has a free bicycle program but it only involves 35 bikes. EARLIER: Rent a bike in Paris and elsewhere in Europe for nearly nothing. Photo of Barcelona bicycling during sunset one evening this summer, taken by Miguel Yuste via Flickr and Creative Commons.