Obake Family Day:
Experience Japan’s Ghosts & Goblins!

November 2, 2014
past event image
Family past event
If you have not yet received your OBAKE FAMILY DAY picture, please contact Japan Society at [email protected] for your electronic version. Please be sure to include the email address you used when signing up for the picture AND any details [including how many total people were in the picture; how many children/youth were in the photo; how many adults were in the photo; or any distinguishing characteristics (such as, my daughter was wearing a red shirt)].

11 am – 4 pm


No reason to hide, it’s Obake Family Day at Japan Society! In this day-long adventure, families are transported to a magical world where Japan’s ghosts, goblins and mystical creatures await you. Kids will meet babbling obake, humorous yokai and other curious creatures from Japan’s fantastical body of folklore through storytelling, crafts, film, a haunted house and more! Unlimited access is available to the Japan Society Gallery exhibition Garden of Unearthly Delights and food and drink will be available for purchase. Come dressed in your favorite costume and see how many creatures you can conjure up!

Advance tickets: Adults $12/$10 Japan Society individual & corporate members; kids (ages 3-12) $6/$5 Japan Society members

Day of tickets:  Adults $15/$12 Japan Society individual & corporate members; kids (ages 3-12) $8/$6 Japan Society members

Free for kids 2 and under. Appropriate for ages 3 and up but some activities are scary. Space is limited for certain events and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Sign-up sheets or timed tickets will be available for certain activities with capacity limitations.


Activities include:

Garden of Unearthly Delights: Works by Ikeda, Tenmyouya & teamLab
11 am – 5 pm

Stroll through the fantastical visions of Manabu Ikeda, Hisashi Tenmyouya and the art and technology collective teamLab in the Garden of Unearthly Delights exhibition at Japan Society Gallery.

Phantom Mask-Making Art Cart
11 am – 4 pm (capacity 20 pp at a time, guests can join as long as spots are available)

Meet the spooky creatures in Garden of Unearthly Delights and make your own obake character! Cartoonist Katie Skelly helps you to conjure up your inner ghost into an anime-style mask that you can wear throughout the day! All materials supplied. For children of all ages.

Kamishibai Spooky Storytelling
11:30 am – 3:30 pm (sessions on the half hour, capacity 20 pp at a time, day of sign-up required)

Explore the folklore surrounding Japan’s yokai creatures, such as monstrous oni, mischievous kappa and troublesome tengu, through traditional kamishibai (paper-theater) storytelling, led by members of Theatre Banana. Children will take a captivating journey where they will laugh out loud and cover their eyes at the same time. Read by professional storytellers, tales include The Goblin, the Water Imp and the Thunder God. Recommended for children ages 3-10 and accompanying adults.

Language Learning with Your Own Obake Buddy
11 am – 4 pm (capacity 20 pp at a time, guests can join as long as spots are available)

Japanese obake come in all shapes, colors and sizes! Assemble your own little creature to travel with you throughout the day while learning a variety of adjectives and the Japanese words for various body parts. By the end of this workshop participants will be able to form a sentence about their obake, as well as describe their friend’s obake buddy. For children of all ages.

Creepy Calligraphy
11 am – 4 pm (capacity 20 pp at a time, guests can join as long as spots are available)

Experience the art of shodo using a brush and ink on paper, and learn about stroke order and technique. Participants can choose from the Japanese writing systems of hiragana, katakana or even complex kanji to illustrate their spirit creatures. Will an obake, a kappa or even a yurei rise up from your paper? For children of all ages.

Haunted House
11 am – 4 pm (timed tickets required, distributed day of)

Cross a bridge over an eerie pond to enter into a magical haunted world where Japanese ghosts, ghouls and goblins lurk. A mysterious tunnel leads to a dark chamber and finally to a crystal ball with special stones that permit re-entry into the real world. Recommended for children 6+ with accompanying adults.

Photo BOOth
11 am – 4 pm

Say BOO! A green screen provides the backdrop for hair-raising photos to be taken with you and your favorite character throughout the day. Images will be provided to participants by email. For children of all ages.

Scary Animated Short Films:

11:30 am – 4 pm (detailed screening times TBD, capacity 260 per screening)

A selection of four scary Japanese animated shorts featuring work by Oscar-nominated animators Koji Yamamura and Shuhei Morita as well as students from Tokyo University of the Arts who studied under Yamamura:

Fox Spirit (3 min.)
Dir. Hitomi Nakamura: Fox spirits have overtaken Japan! Where are they all going?
Scary rating: 1 (out of 5)

Spirit of the Night (7 min.)
Dir. Hiroko Satsuma: A ghost visits a boy while he tries to sleep, leading him on a strange and wonderful journey.
Scary rating: 2

The Elevator (8 min.)
Dir. Koji Yamamura: A trip down the elevator unexpectedly takes a young boy into a forest deep underground filled with goblins and singing birds.
Scary rating: 2

Kakurenbo (25 min.)
Dir. Shuhei Morita: A group of kids wearing masks decide to play hide and seek in the ruins of an abandoned city. One by one they start to disappear as demons are awakened.
Scary rating: 5

Plus Ghost Hunt, Giveaways, Food & More!

Obake Family Day is supported, in part, by Kumon North America.

Images, from top: teamLab (est. 2001), United, Fragmented, Repeated, and Impermanent World (detail), 2013. Interactive digital work, 8 screens; endless, 9:16; sound by Hideaki Takahashi. Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery; Kamishibai photo © Kazuko Minamoto/Japan Society; Calligraphy photo © Masako Inkyo;『きつね』Fox Spirits Ⓒ2013 Hitomi NAKAMURA / Tokyo University of the Arts; 『ふしぎなエレベーター』The Elevator Ⓒ Nichiei Production; KAKURENBO (C) YAMATOWORKS / DENTSU・CWF.

  • Sunday, November 2, 2014
  • 11:00 am