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Fashionably Late: Celebrating Asian and Pacific Islander Month Beyond May!

May is Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month and even though we’re nearing the end of the month, it’s never too late to honor the rich cultural impact these communities have on Newport News.

Our city is a diverse and dynamic place, home to a thriving Asian population. It’s here you’ll find many Japanese professionals working at Canon Virginia, a manufacturer of printer cartridges that opened in Newport News in 1985. A year after its opening, Japan donated hundreds of Yoshino cherry trees to the City of Newport News, which line both sides of Canon Boulevard.

In Newport News Park, you’ll find a Japanese Peace Garden, home to a 16th-century reproduction of a Japanese ceremonial teahouse, affectionately named “Swallows’ Rest.” You’ll enter the garden through a “torii,” a traditional Japanese gate that marks the entrance to a sacred place.

Newport News also has strong Asian ties through its relationships with its Sister Cities in Japan and China. Neyagawa, Japan became our first Sister City in 1982, three years before Canon Virginia opened here. And like Newport News, Taizhou, China is a coastal city located near a river. Additionally, Newport News is a “Friendship City” with Ziyang in Southwest China.

Newport News also boasts a rich culinary landscape, perfect for exploring the city’s cultural diversity. With a multifaceted population, the city offers a wide array of international cuisines for you to enjoy.

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One of the most popular Asian restaurants in Newport News, Hayashi Sushi & Grill, is owned by Lenny Sean, who was born in South Korea and moved to the United States in 1983 when he was 17. After graduating from Denbigh High School, Lenny attended college in Florida and spent his early years working in restaurants and learning about Japanese cuisine.

In 1997, he opened his first restaurant in Williamsburg. Ten years later, he opened Hayashi Sushi & Grill in City Center. Over the years, Hayashi has won gold in Virginia Media’s “Best of” contests in the category of “Japanese Restaurant/Sushi” restaurants in Newport News.

From Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to Indian, Nepalese, and Thai, you’ll find that Newport News has many restaurants to satisfy your cravings for Asian cuisine! And for those of you who want to try your hand at cooking Asian dishes at home, we suggest you shop at stores like E-Mart International Food, Grand Mart, Jung Ha Oriental Market, or Kundan Grocery – to name just a few of the numerous international food stores in Newport News.

Here you’ll find authentic ingredients, from sauces and spices to unique produce, noodles, and sweets that you won’t find anywhere else. Shopping in the international markets found throughout Newport News is a great way to support our Asian business owners and enjoy some amazing food.

As we wrap up Asian and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, it’s clear that the influence of these communities extends far beyond the 31 days of May. From enjoying a meal at a local restaurant to shopping in specialty food stores, there are many ways to celebrate these vibrant cultures all year round!