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JANM Welcomes Year of the Boar

The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will present its annual Oshogatsu Family Festival on Sunday, Jan. 6, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission to the New Year’s celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities is free and all ages are welcome to help ring in the Year of the Boar.

Highlights of the day will include two mochitsuki demonstrations, with mochi samples for tasting; sample bowls of lucky zaru soba to bring good health in the new year; and fukubukuro (lucky grab bags) for sale at the JANM Store. There will also be a variety of craft activities, souvenir photos, a scavenger hunt with prizes, and a performance combining a Japanese calligrapher’s dance and taiko drumming.

Additionally, toy designer Mark Nagata, whose collection is featured in the exhibition “Kaiju vs. Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey Through the World of Japanese Toys,” will give a talk about his latest special edition sofubi toy figure—an homage to the character portrayed by actor Gerald Okamura in the movie “Big Trouble in Little China.” Nagata and Okamura will then sign purchased figures, which are hand-painted by Nagata.

JANM members are eligible for a number of special privileges, which are noted in the full slate of activities below.


• Get into the spirit of the new year with a pig ears headband.

• Write down a goal for the year. Then have your photo taken with your goal and decorate the photo. Hang it up at home as reminder for 2019.

• Grab some fun props and pose for a souvenir photo at the Nerdbot Photo Booth. (Express Line for members.)

• Learn how to fold a paper boar at Ruthie’s Origami Corner.

• Children can enter the Kids’ Raffle to win a candy sculpture created by Shan Ichiyanagi (Shan the Candyman). While supplies last. Limit one raffle ticket per child. (Members receive two chances to win a prize.)

• Surround yourself with plush pig and boar toys at the pig pen. A boar coloring station will also be located at the pig pen.

• The museum’s youngest visitors can head to the Toddler Room to relax or play with other small children.

NOTE: All children must be supervised by an accompanying adult at all times.

• The JANM Store will have fukubukuro for purchase.


11 a.m.–3 p.m.: Kidding Around the Kitchen will hand out sample bowls of lucky zaru soba to bring good health in the new year. Kids can top the soba with their choice of tofu, vegetables, and nori. While supplies last.

11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Power of Flow is a collaboration between taiko and Japanese calligraphy. Combining contemporary elements and traditional art forms, Ruki pairs the calligrapher’s dance performance with strong taiko beats to celebrate the new year. Performed by Japanese calligrapher and hip-hop dancer Kuniharu Yoshida and taiko player Walter Nishinaka. (Reserved seating for members.)

11:30 a.m.–5 p.m.: Shan Ichiyanagi (Shan the Candyman) will demonstrate the ancient, and now rarely practiced, Asian folk art of candy sculpting, as he makes candy in the shape of boars and other animals of the Asian zodiac. Finished pieces will be offered as prizes for the Kids’ Raffle noted above.

12 p.m.–4:30 p.m.: Sample a selection of traditional Japanese new year foods (osechi-ryori), including various sweets and vegetables, and learn about what each dish means. While supplies last. (Express line for members.)

12:30 p.m.–1 p.m. To mark the release of “Kaiju vs. Heroes” artist Mark Nagata’s latest special edition sofubi toy figure—an homage to the character played by Gerald Okamura (pictured) in the movie “Big Trouble in Little China”—Nagata will discuss how this project came to fruition. (Reserved seating for members.)

1 p.m.–2 p.m.: Mark Nagata and Gerald “Man of Many Weapons” Okamura will sign figures and a special print of the header art created for the toy following the artist conversation. The figure is hand-painted by Nagata and limited to 45 pieces. (Express line for members.)

2 p.m. and 4 p.m.: Making fresh mochi is a beloved Japanese new year tradition. Join Kodama Taiko for their unique mochitsuki demonstration, which incorporates taiko drumming, and enjoy delicious mochi samples while supplies last.

Exhibitions on view for Oshogatsu Family Festival include “Kaiju vs. Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey Through the World of Japanese Toys,” “Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit,” and JANM’s ongoing core exhibition, “Common Ground: The Heart of Community.”

MUFG Union Bank has provided generous support for Oshogatsu Family Festival. Additional sponsors are the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Dwight Stuart Youth Fund, and The Nissan Foundation.

For more information, call (213) 625-0414 or visit

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