New Year’s Celebration: Oshogatsu

January 29, 2017
past event image
Family past event

Sunday, January 29, 1—4 PM
Taiko Drumming Sessions: 1:30 & 2:30 PM

Families and children of all ages are invited to revel in Oshogatsu, Japan’s New Year’s holiday, and celebrate the Year of the Rooster! Ring in the New Year right, with a day full of  festive music, games, crafts, and a host of fun, traditional activities. Recommended for all ages!

Tickets: $18/$10 Japan Society members; children ages 2 and under free. Advance ticket purchase is advised.; price includes festival (1-4 PM) and one taiko drumming session at 1:30 or 2:30 PM.

Featured Activities:


Taiko Drumming
1:30 & 2:30 PM
Enjoy a dynamic, vibrant taiko drumming performance by Taiko Masala with accompanying lion dancing. Following the show, audience members are invited to practice and perform on stage with the troupe of drummers.



Begin the New Year by learning to write Japanese words and phrases associated with the holiday. Children and parents of all ages will experience the time-honored classics of brush and sumi ink calligraphy art.

 Rice Pounding & Decorative Mochi-Making

Guests pound rice dough in a large mortar (usu) with a wooden mallet (kine) and enjoy this traditional cultural experience first-hand! Then, participants are invited to make decorative mochi called Kagami-mochi from the pounded dough. (Edible mochi, prepared by a local Japanese vendor will also be available for purchase.)

 Fukuwarai Funny-Face Game

Play Fukuwarai, which roughly translates to “Lucky Laugh,” by assembling a face by placing paper cutouts of wacky facial features on a blank face while blindfolded. Observer and players alike get a rise out of this traditional children’s game.

 Karuta Card Making and Game

Ready-Set-Go! Race to create a pair of phrases read by a third player before the other participants beat you to it. The player with the most cards at the end of the game wins! Try your hand…and ears…as the game is played in Japanese and English. You can also create your own set of original Karuta cards to take home and play with family, friends, and schoolmates!

 Top spinning (koma-mawashi) & Other Folk Toys

Try your hand at top spinning and other fun Japanese wooden folk toys such as Kendama and Daruma-otoshi.

 Kite (tako) Making

Design your own traditional Japanese kite! Assemble the frame from bamboo and decorate it with any number of festive designs to add a personal touch.

 Hagoita Making

Create your own Hagoita (a decorative wooden paddle), a folk game similar to paddle ball, played with a shuttlecock. This decorative Hagoita is also a popular folk toy perfect for display and New Year gifts to bring good luck.

 Decorative Hyotan Making

Connect with a Japan of yester-year as you paint and decorate a hyotan (gourd) with your favorite design, zodiac sign, or calligraphy character. Handle and enjoy the light weight, natural beauty of these gourds and learn the history of these delicate, yet sturdy containers.

 New Year’s Card Making

Create a New Year’s card (nenga-jo) to celebrate the year of the Rooster and share your messages and drawings with friends and family. Participants will learn how to write “Happy New Year” in Japanese and the pervasive use of these greeting cards during the start of the year.

 Kamishibai Storytelling

Is it just a story? How are myths and folktales told through Kamishibai (paper-theater)? Listen here to popular New Year’s folktales such as “Hats for the Jizos” and “How the Years Were Named” as your perspectives and viewpoints are built up and encouraged through the power of story. Put your listening ears on as each story will be performed in English and Japanese.

Related resources coming soon!

Healthy Japanese light meals, snacks and festival-related refreshments available for purchase by .

Oshogatsu is a part of CelebrASIA NYC: New Year’s Festivities for Families, a series of programs offered by Japan Society, Museum of Chinese in America, The Korea Society, Asia Society, China Institute, Flushing Town Hall, and the Rubin Museum of Art introducing children to New Year’s traditions through food, performances, and hands-on workshops. For more info, visit

This event will be photographed and videotaped. Content subject to change.

Learn more about Japanese New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day in this article.

Inset photos: Taiko Drums, Calligraphy & Kite images © George Hirose;  Rice Pounding & Hyotan images © Owen Rojek; All other images © Kazuko Minamoto.

Family Programs are generously supported by Nissan Foundation, Delta Air Lines, Kumon Centers of Manhattan and the Wendy Obernauer Foundation.

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Student and Family Programs are supported by the New York Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Education and Family Programs are made possible by Chris A. Wachenheim and The Norinchukin Foundation, Inc.

Additional support is provided by James and Beatrice Del Favero and James Read Levy.

  • Sunday, January 29, 2017
  • 1:00 pm