What to Expect at Natsumatsuri 2018

JANM is counting down the days to our Natsumatsuri Family Festival! Join us in celebrating the summer season on Saturday, August 18, for a full day of fun: crafts, bubble making, taiko performances, bon odori dances, tea ceremonies, live music, and so much more. Best of all, admission to this annual celebration and the museum will be free all day.

As in years past, we are excited to bring the Okinawan dango booth back to JANM. Always a crowd favorite, Okinawan dango (also known as saataa andaagii, which translates to “deep fried sugar”) are small Japanese donuts fried to crispy perfection on the outside with a deliciously fluffy inside. Popular at summer obon festivals in the West, these traditional treats will only be available while supplies last, so come early!

After you’ve enjoyed some snacks, we have two taiko performances for your entertainment. A cornerstone of Japanese American summer festivals, the taiko drum is a crowd-pleasing loud Japanese instrument. Use of this instrument during festivals dates back as far as the sixth century. Today, taiko refers to a broad range of instruments and ensembles in a practice that transcends cultural, stylistic, and geographical boundaries.

Two talented taiko groups will get hearts racing. San Fernando Valley Taiko takes the stage at 11:15 a.m. in Aratani Central Hall for a performance and interactive taiko demonstration. Founded by two collegiate taiko experts, San Fernando Valley Taiko offers weekly classes for every skill level at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center. If you miss that first taiko display, have no fear. At 4:15 p.m., on our Children’s Courtyard, Los Angeles’ very own TAIKOPROJECT will close the day’s festivities. A modern American taiko group, they put on powerful shows that combine traditional forms with innovative aesthetics. The group has appeared at the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards, among others.

Taiko drummers perform at Natsumatsuri 2016. (Photo credit: Steve Fujimoto)

Between the taiko performances, Masayo Young will lead three traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, at 12:00 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2:30 p.m. Born and raised in Osaka, Young has practiced these ancient rituals for decades. The quiet performances require a focused and meditative sense of control that place value in the process of mindfully preparing and serving matcha tea. The number of participants for each ceremony will be limited, so sign up early to make sure you get a serving of tea with traditional sweets. Sign-up sheets will be available at the museum survey table.


At 2:45 p.m., say aloha to Kaulana Ka Hale Kula O Na Pua O Ka Aina in Aratani Central Hall. Since 1999, the group has preserved and shared Native Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures. With learning at the center of their practice, they teach many of their haumana (students) how to make their own implements, attire, and leis. Families are invited to hula alongside them during their set, so come ready to dance.

A group of dancers from Kaulana Ka Hale Kula O Na Pua O Ka Aina perform.

Natsumatsuri Family Festival 2018 will be fun for all ages, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Free for everyone, JANM invites families to enjoy the entire day, with even more activities including origami workshops, jazz performances, and a scavenger hunt. JANM members get perks throughout the day, including reserved seating and express lines, so join or renew today! More information about all of our Natsumatsuri activities is available on our website.

Highlights from the 3rd Annual Los Angeles International Tea Festival & Tea Ceremony Demonstration

Japanese tea ceremony demonstration led by Masayo Sebata


On Saturday, September 28, the Los Angeles International Tea Festival returned to JANM for its 3rd year! This year’s Tea Festival was even more successful than in previous years, boasting an extended 24 participating tea vendors, more exciting workshops, and an extension into the Courtyard.

JANM also had a free Japanese tea ceremony demonstration in conjunction with the festival, presented as part of the Tateuchi Public Programs Series.

The Japanese tea ceremony is called chanoyu or sado in Japanese. The ceremony was presented on behalf of Chado Tea Room and Hamano Shachu from Urasenke. The group performed a choreographed ritual of preparing and serving tea together with traditional Japanese sweets.

The tea ceremony demonstration involved five participants—Chieko-san, the narrator who guided the audience through each step of the ceremony, assistant Mrs. Kawata, hostess Mrs. Masayo Sebata, and two guests.

The tea ceremony began with a brief history of the Japanese tea ceremony, and the importance of tea in Japanese culture. After the introduction, Chieko-san narrated the proceedings of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony as it was being performed on stage. The tea ceremony was concluded by a Q&A session, where the group answered a variety of questions relating to the Japanese tea ceremony. The Tateuchi Democracy Forum enjoyed a full house that evening, where an enthusiastic audience was able to view a beautiful tea ceremony performance, and learn more about the Japanese tea tradition.

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Check out these photos from the 3rd Annual Los Angeles International Tea Festival at JANM and the tea ceremony demonstration!

Chado’s lovely display of their wide variety of teas.
The tea festival is packed with indoor vendors!
Visitors excitedly make stops from booth to booth.
A group of tea-enthusiasts sample a cup of hot tea.
Chado gives an enlightening introduction to tea.
An eager audience awaits the next tea vendor presentation.
Two guests, dressed is beautiful fall kimonos, help demonstrate the ritual of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.
Mrs. Sebata cleans off the chashaku (tea scoop) with a chakin (red silk scarf).
“Every action in a Japanese tea ceremony is intentionally calculated,” Chieko-san explains as the hostess instructs one of her guests to begin eating her traditional Japanese sweets.
Mrs. Sebata uses her chakin (red silk scarf) to meticulously wipe off a chawan (tea bowl).
The hostess carefully pours hot water into the mizusashi (water jug).
The assistant gracefully carries a bowl of hot chrysanthemum tea to the guests.
The sensei (teacher), hostess, and narrator answer a variety of questions relating to the Japanese tea ceremony from the audience.

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Photos by Tsuneo Takasugi, R.M. Murakami, and John Esaki.