Osechi-ryori Tasting at JANM’s Oshogatsu Festival!

3 girls enjoying zaru soba at the 2013 Oshogatsu Family Festival
Young guests trying zaru soba at the 2013 Oshogatsu Family Festival

Celebrate the New Year with special New Year’s foods at the 2014 Oshogatsu Family Festival on Sunday, January 5th. It’s FREE all day from 11AM to 5PM!

Guests can learn how to make onigiri and submit their creative rice balls in an Onigiri Design ContestKidding around the Kitchen will provide the ingredients to make some lucky zaru soba (buckwheat noodles); and there will a mochitsuki demonstration by Kodama Taiko, where free samples will be handed out after each performance.

Not only is food a major component of JANM’s Oshogatsu Family Festival, but it is also a major component of traditional Japanese New Year celebrations. That’s why JANM has organized an Osechi-ryori tasting for the festival! Osechi-ryori are traditional Japanese New Year foods. The dishes that make up osechi each have a special meaning celebrating the New Year. Learn more about these dishes, and try them out for yourself at the festival!

There will be a general Osechi-ryori tasting from 12PM – 1PM, followed by a Members Gourmet Osechi-ryori tasting from 1PM – 2PM, which will be for JANM members only. Remember to get in line early because the tasting will only last as long as supplies last!

Stay tuned for more blog posts covering the special activities planned for Oshogatsu Family Festival!

Visit the Oshogatsu Family Festival page for the full schedule >>

Not a current member? Join/renew now >>

Onigiri Contest at JANM’s Oshogatsu Family Festival!

Onigiri Design Contest

On Sunday, January 5, 2014, JANM will once again be holding an Onigiri Design Contest at the annual Oshogatsu Family Festival!

2013's winning onigiriOnigiri are rice balls that are traditionally shaped into triangles and balls. However, onigiri can be pressed into many different shapes and decorated with all kinds of materials. Onigiri is made with plain rice and wrapped in nori (edible seaweed). Traditionally, the onigiri is filled with pickled salted plum fruit (umeboshi), salted salmon, bonito shavings, katsuobushi, or any other salty or sour ingredient.

From 12PM to 2PM learn how to make and decorate onigiri rice balls, and stick around until 3:30PM, when the Onigiri Design Contest winners will be announced.

2013's Onigiri Design Contest WinnerThe Onigiri Design contest will be sponsored by Common Grains, a project dedicated to providing people with a deeper understanding and appreciation for Japanese food and culture. Common Grains aims to share the traditions and pleasures of eating grains and vegetables within a healthy, sustainable lifestyle. For more information, please visit their website, commongrains.com.

Be sure to check our blog for more detailed posts of the activities planned for Oshogatsu Family Festival!

The Oshogatsu Family Festival will be from 11AM to 5PM and is free and open to the public. The day will be filled with fun arts & craftsfood, exciting cultural activities, and more! For the complete festival schedule, please visit janm.org/oshogatsufest2014.

See more photos from last year’s Onigiri Design Contest >>

Photo Credits: Daryl Kobayashi, and Russell Kitagawa

Mochitsuki: A New Year’s Tradition

Crafts with FamilyOn Sunday, January 5th, celebrate the New Year and the Year of the Horse at our Oshogatsu Family Festival from 11AM to 5PM.

Ring in the New Year with a fun-filled day of arts ‘n crafts, food, exciting cultural activities, and performances! FREE ALL DAY!

One of the traditional Japanese customs that JANM will be celebrating is mochitsuki—the pounding of mochi or rice cakes, which is essential to the “Oshogatsu” or New Year’s celebration.

Kodama Taiko Mochitsuki 4Mochitsuki is an annual custom kept by many Japanese American households and communities. It is traditionally an all-day event which requires many hands, long hours, and physical labor, but is also a time of fellowship and socializing with friends and family.

Mochitsuki usually begins the day before, with the washing of the mochigome (sweet glutinous rice) and is left to soak overnight in large kettles or tubs. Early the next morning the mochigome is ready to be steamed in the seiro—wooden steaming frames. Three or four seiro are stacked one on top of the other and placed over a kettle of boiling water.

Kodama Taiko Mochitsuki 2After the rice is cooked, it is dumped into the usu, or mortar, made from a wood stump, stone or concrete form. The hot cooked rice in the usu is pounded with a kine or wooden mallet. With enthusiasm and force, the mochi is pounded until the mass of rice is smooth and shiny, with no discernible individual grains of rice. An essential participant in the pounding is the person assisting who quickly darts his or her hand into the usu and turns the rice before the next rhythmic pound.

Mochi Samples

The smooth, consistent mass of mochi is turned onto a cloth or paper covered table, already spread with a thin layer of mochiko (sweet rice flour). This makes the sticky mass easier to handle. An adept person pinches off small portions of the steaming hot mochi for others, who quickly form them into flattened bun shapes with their hands. The formed mochi is then set aside to cool and is ready to eat.

Kodama Taiko Mochitsuki 5

 

Be sure to visit JANM on Sunday, January 5th 2014 to watch Kodama Taiko perform their unique Mochitsuki performance at 2:30PM or 4PM. Watch as Kodama Taiko combine the age-old tradition of pounding mochi (sweet rice) with the sounds of taiko. This energetic performance is customary during the Japanese New Year’s Oshogatsu. Then stick around to sample the delicious mochi afterwards!

 

For more information on JANM’s 2014 Oshogatsu Family Festival and the complete schedule, please visit: janm.org/oshogatsufest2014

We hope to see you there!

* * * * *

Check out these stories about mochitsuki on our Discover Nikkei site:

Mochitsuki Tradition: Mochi Making the Old School Way (San Francisco, CA)
By Soji Kashiwagi

Mochitsuki: Taking the (rice) cake (Michigan)
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Mochitsuki (Toronto, ON, Canada)
By April Sora

PHOTOS: Celebrating Mochi-Tsuki Mochi Day in Chicago (Chicago, IL)
Chicago Japanese American Historial Society

VIDEO: Mochitsuki at Heart Mountain (Wyoming)
B&W home movie footage of mochitsuki taken at the Heart Mountain concentration camp in Wyoming during WWII. From the Naokichi Hashizume Collection at JANM.

Photos by Daryl Kobayashi, Richard Murakami, Russell Kitagawa, Tsuneo Takasugi, and Caronline Jung.

Save the Date: 2014 Oshogatsu Family Festival

Taiko Group

Celebrate the New Year and the Year of the Horse at JANM! Ring in 2014 with a FREE fun-filled day of exciting cultural performances, special foods, and fun crafts!

Candy Sculpture

FREE admission all day on Sunday, January 5, 2014 from 11AM – 5PM.

Here are a few highlights to look forward to at Oshogatsu Family Festival:

From 12PM – 5PM, world-renowned candy artist Shan Ichiyanagi returns JANM! Watch as he makes horse & other special candy sculptures! These sculptures will be for children on, and candies will be raflled off throughout the day.
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From 12PM – 2PM, learn how to make onigiri rice balls and participate in our Onigiri Design Contest, presented by Common Grains!

From 1PM – 5PM be sure to try some lucky zaru soba (buckwheat noodles) with Kidding Around the Kitchen. From 1PM – 5PM you can also meet and ride some real live ponies in celebration of the Year of the Horse!

Mochitsuki

Don’t miss Kodama Taiko at 2:30PM & 4PM as they perform a demonstration of mochitsuki, a traditional rice cake pounding ceremonyMochi samples will be passed out at the end of the performance!

For JANM members, there will be a special gourmet osechi-ryori tasting from 12PM – 1PM where members can sample traditional Japanese New Year foods, while supplies last!

The day will also include all-day activities such as a horse bounce house, a toddler room where our youngest guests can hang out, Fukubukuro (lucky bag) sale at the Museum Store, and fun horse crafts.

While you’re here, be sure to check out the Marvels & Monsters: Unmasking Asian Images in U.S. Comics, 1942-1986 (through February 9, 2014) and Go For Broke: Japanese American Soldiers Fighting on Two Fronts (through March 2, 2014) exhibitions.

For more details, visit the 2014 Oshogatsu Family Festival page: janm.org/oshogatsufest2014

Stay tuned for a special series of Oshogatsu blog posts that will explore some of the cultural activities in more detail!

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Kaeru reindeerYou don’t have to wait to enjoy holiday fun at JANM!

Join us for Target FREE Family Saturdays: Winter Wonderland on Saturday, December 14 from 11AM – 4PM.

It’s a Winter Wonderland of seasonal crafts & activities including photos with Asian American Santa, a horse-drawn carriage, kamishibai story-telling, and more!

For schedule, visit: janm.org/target

2013 Oshogatsu Festival photos

Thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate the New Year & the Year of the Snake!

Over 2,800 came throughout the day for our 2013 Oshogatsu Family Festival on Sunday, January 6th to enjoy free crafts, performances & food.

Thanks so much to our volunteer photographers who captured all the fun—Caroline Jung, Russell Kitagawa, Daryl Kobayashi, Richard Murakami, and Tsuneo Takasugi.

Here’s a selection of the many, many photos they took to document the day!

(Click on the images to see the full photos)

 

For more Oshogatsu Family Festival photos, including from the Onigiri Design Contest, check out our photo album on our  JANM Facebook page >>

2013 Oshogatsu Family Festival

Celebrate the New Year & the Year of the Snake with JANM!

Join us on Sunday, January 6 from 11am – 5pm for a BIG day full of family-friendly fun activities, crafts, and cultural performances…and it’s all FREE!

We will have a lot of everyone’s favorite activities, plus Year of the Snake-themed crafts & more!

Here are a few highlights to look forward to:

– Mochitsuki performance & demonstration by Kodama Taiko

– Common Grains returns with the Onigiri Design Contest. Last year, this was so popular that we ran out of rice! This year, we’ll also have a rice tasting and you can purchase different varieties of rice. [Learn about how Common Grains got started in this article by founder Sonoko Sakai on our Discover Nikkei site: Common Grains]

– World-renowned candy artist Shaun Ichiyanagi also returns to make snake sculpture candy! (Everyone can watch, but the candy snakes are for children only & will be raffled off at the start of every hour)

– Learn how to play taiko with Bombu Taiko

– Reptacular Animals presents a Reptile petting zoo! Come meet real snakes and other cool reptiles!

– Special fukubukuro (lucky bag) sale at the Museum Store

Check janm.org/oshogatsufest for full schedule >>

Here are some photos from last year’s Oshogatsu Family Festival taken by volunteer Richard Watanabe:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While you’re here, take advantage of the free admission all-day to check out Giant Robot Biennale 3 before it closes on January 20!

 

New Year's mochi by Hisako Hibi

Happy New Year!

Wishing you a Healthy & Happy New Year from the Japanese American National Museum!

New Year's mochi by Hisako Hibi
"New Year's mochi" by Hisako Hibi. Hisako Hibi Collection (99.63.2)

 

This image is from JANM’s permanent collection. It’s a painting by artist Hisako Hibi and features a still-life of kagami mochi / okasane.

On the back is this inscription:

Hisako Hibi. Jan 1943 at Topaz. Japanese without mochi (pounded sweet rice) is no New Year! It was very sad oshogatsu (New Year). So, I painted okazari mochi in the internment camp.

Our cultural traditions bring our families & communities together, and has the power to give us comfort.