Why go now: In Santa Fe, Far East meets Southwest for a fraction of the airfare to Kyoto.
Dress code: Colorful, loose clothing (call it dojo chic). But make sure to layer because ...
Altitude: ... at 7,000 feet, Santa Fe is the highest state capital and chilly in February.
Sister city: Tsuyama, Japan
Twin- cities fact: Tea: A Mirror of Soul, a contemporary opera about a Japanese monk's heroic quest, had its world premiere in Tokyo (2002) and its American one in Santa Fe (2007).
True fusion: Chef Joel Coleman blends French technique with Asian ingredientsat Mauka ($$$; 544B Agua Fria; 505/984-1969).
Number of art galleries: More than 250
Weekly Japanese film night: Arrive early for the 7:15 p.m. Thursday show at Ten Thousand Waves (free; on Hyde Park Rd., about 20 minutes from Santa Fe Plaza; 505/982-9304).
Reason to come back: The April Santa Fe Japanese Cultural Festival will feature martial arts performances, traditional music, and tea ceremonies (10-5 Apr 11; free; at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center, 201 W. Marcy St.; firstname.lastname@example.orgTake it home
At the Teahouse, you can order from more than a hundred loose-leaf blends. Savor a cup while you nibble on tea- infused breads and salads in the Zen-like lounge, then buy a bag to go. We like the genmaicha, a green tea fermented and mixed with roasted rice to create a nutty winter brew. $$; 821 Canyon Rd.; teahousesantafe.com
Ronni Lundy | From the February 2009 Issue