Columbus is home to a large Japanese-American population, and it's the best place in the Midwest to explore the culture of this nation. Whether it's food, culture, or theater, you'll find it here this October.
This October, Shadowbox Live, the nation's largest resident theater company, joins forces with Japanese choreographer/director Hiromi Sakamoto and New York Times Best Selling author of the KABUKI Graphic Novels, David Mack, to create a one of a kind cultural-artistic collaboration. “The Tenshu" features live martial arts, magic, giant puppets and supernatural experiences, accompanied by an original rock score written and performed by Light! The production will run exclusively Oct. 7 – 25 at Shadowbox Live, as the space will be transformed to create a completely immersive experience for this unique event. The Tenshu is a story of love between a beautiful, powerful spirit and a Samurai falconer; a story of honor for a loyal and conflicted warrior; a story of magic, tradition and the supernatural; a story of an unassuming artisan who holds the key to happiness.
Columbus' Japanese restaurants are clustered on the city's northwest side. If you're all-in, definitely make a reservation at Kihachi, inside a humble strip mall on Columbus' far north side, and touted by many local foodies as the best restaurant in Columbus. Once you step inside, the atmosphere changes instantly. Chef Michael Kimura creates an inventive and authentic menu fresh with the day's best ingredients. Expect much more than sushi and yakitori - this is the place to put yourself in the able hands of Chef Kimura and splurge on omakase (Japanese for "I'll leave it to you.") You'll be treated to a visual feast as Kimura and his team craft many small bites into works of art for the eye and mouth.
Tensuke Market and its adjoining Tensuke Express restaurant offer a huge array of Japanese grocery items and made-to-order sushi that's about as fresh as you can get. Meshikou offers ramen and other quick bites, including several delicious vegetarian options. Akai Hana offers a table service sushi experience and ranks among the city's favorite.
For a more casual dining experience, check out Columbus' growing ramen scene. We've got a good overview right here.
For even more Japanese culture, check out the Billy Ireland Cartoon Museum, which is adjacent to the Wexner Center for the Arts on Ohio State's campus. This free attraction houses the largest collection of manga outside of Japan. Franklin Park Conservatory's Pacific Island garden and zen garden are replete with calming Japanese themes.