Xuelian Li / Corporate Staff Dept.
* In this column, Marubeni Group staff provide a glimpse of the cities in which they are living and working.
Washington, D.C. has many faces. Last year it attracted a record 19 million visitors; a number it looks set to beat again.
First, the prominent face of the capital is that as the country’s political center. House of Cards, said to be one of the most popular political television dramas in U.S. history, is set in Washington. In the opening sequence, the White House, Capitol Hill, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, and other historical sites are featured. These political symbols are a must-see.
Washington is a treasure trove of museums. What’s more, entry is free. Among them, the most popular is the National Museum of Natural History which was the setting for the movie, Night at the Museum. You will be greeted by a massive African elephant in the lobby, followed by an awe-inspiring dinosaur exhibition. The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, which features the Apollo II exhibit on the first floor and the Wright Brothers exhibit on the second, attracts many fans and should not be missed. My friends who grew up in Washington would spend a week at each of these museums for a closer look during their summer breaks.
If you're an art lover, the National Gallery of Art is the attraction for you. The highlights of the collection are Vincent van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, Claude Monet’s Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son, and Auguste Renoir’s A Girl with a Watering Can. In the television drama House of Cards, this art gallery appears at least twice when the main character, Frank Underwood, a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, is waiting with reporter Zoe Barnes. Two paintings in particular present interesting symbolisms relevant to the storyline, so why not go and seek them out? If you’re after a small gift, you can’t go wrong with an art magnet. If outer space is more your thing, then how about a space blanket or pen from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum?
Washington also has a very romantic side for music lovers, foodies, and shoppers. If you really want to hit the town, I recommend a visit to the Kennedy Center located on the bank of the Potomac River. I went there the other day and saw the musical Evita.
Though they’re not listed in travel guides, an outdoor jazz concert series known as "Jazz in the Garden", organized by the National Gallery of Art is very popular with the locals. From May to August they are held every Friday evening and are free to attend. You can sit on the grass and enjoy a picnic and a chat while listening to the performances. Who knows? You might discover something new by spending some time off the beaten path with the locals.
There are so many sides to Washington that I really can’t cover them all. With direct flights from Tokyo available, Washington has become a convenient destination. Please come and visit!
Marubeni Group communication site “MS+ (MS Plus)” (November 17, 2014)