Japanese American National Museum
Events Calendar
JANM Free Family Days

Bring family and friends for fun-filled days of exciting workshops, cultural performances, and unique craft activities.

See the schedule of upcoming JANM Free Family Days >>


Media Sponsor: The Rafu Shimpo

2015 Events

Saturday, July 11, 2015
11:00 AM—4:00 PM

JANM Free Family Days: Okinawan Traditions



In conjunction with the opening of Sugar/Islands: Finding Okinawa in Hawai‘i, join us for a day of performances, crafts, and activities celebrating Okinawan culture.



  • Okinawan Shiisaa: Resembling a cross between a dog and a lion, the shiisaa is a mythical beast believed to have the power to ward off evil. Statues of shiisaa are often seen in front of buildings, typically in pairs. Make your own shiisaa at our craft station!

  • Okinawan Lei Making: Originally created for use in a traditional dance, the Okinawan nuchibana lei has come to symbolize many things, including love, purity, hope, and remembrance. What will your nuchibana lei symbolize?

  • Okinawan Pastries: Sample saataa andaagii—delicious deep-fried pastries, while supplies last.

  • Souvenir Photo Booth: Show off the crafts you made, or just show your JANM pride, and take home a souvenir photo of you and your family, courtesy of Nerdbot.

  • Ruthie’s Origami Corner: Make a paper kariyushi shirt, the Okinawan version of a Hawaiian aloha shirt.

  • Okinawan Gifts Raffle: Stop by our survey table to claim a small prize and enter a raffle to win special gifts from Okinawa. Sponsored by the Okinawa Association of America, Inc.


    11:30 a.m.: Learn to draw a pair of shiisaa in our drawing workshop.

    1 p.m.: Listen to live sanshin-minyo (traditional folk songs accompanied by Okinawan banjo) performed by Yuna and Tida.

    1:15 p.m.: Enjoy traditional Okinawan dances performed by Tamagusukuryu Kansen-Kai, Yonamine Keiko Ryubu Dojo.

    1:30 p.m.: Take in a stimulating concert by Aloha Time Machine, featuring reggae- and blues-influenced ukulele player Jason Arimoto and Afro-Cuban percussionist Brad Ranola.

    2 p.m.: Join us for a panel discussion and reception on the occasion of the opening of our new exhibition, Sugar/Islands: Finding Okinawa in Hawai‘i. Curator Krystal Hauseur, PhD, and artists Laura Kina and Emily Hanako Momohara will talk about the ideas, histories, and inspirations behind their exhibition.

    3 p.m.: Enjoy an authentic Okinawan taiko performance by the Los Angeles branch of Ryukukoku Matsuri Daiko, founded in Okinawa in 1982.

    3:30 p.m.: Close out the day with some bluegrass-inspired pop by Okinawan musician Banjo Ai.

    3:50 p.m.: Winners of the Okinawan Gifts Raffle will be announced!


    Saturday, August 15, 2015
    11:00 AM—5:00 PM

    Natsumatsuri Family Festival



    Our popular annual summer celebration features Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities for the whole family.

    • Enjoy stimulating performances by Minyo Station, Random Ninjas, and TAIKOPROJECT with Quetzal

    • Impress the crowd at our Karaoke Open Mic

    • Take a basic taiko drumming lesson with docent Hal Keimi

    • Join our community bon odori dance

    • Participate in a variety of family arts and crafts projects

    • Get a custom screen-printed Natsumatsuri t-shirt for your child, while supplies last

    …and more!

    Check for complete schedule.

    Natsumatsuri is held in conjunction with Nisei Week Festival (August 15–23), Little Tokyo’s biggest annual event. Make your plans early!


    Saturday, October 10, 2015
    11:00 AM—4:00 PM

    JANM Free Family Days: What's Cookin'?



    Join us for a day of food and fun with a green/sustainability theme.



  • Decorate a re-useable lunch bag to take to school each day.

  • Put your own unique designs on a re-useable water bottle.

  • At Ruthie’s Origami Corner, learn how to make paper onigiri (Japanese rice ball treats).


    12 p.m.–3 p.m.: Balloon Monsoon will make and give away balloons in the shape of cupcakes and ice cream cones. Limit one balloon per child. Line ends at 2:30 p.m.

    12 p.m.–3:30 p.m.: Kidding Around the Kitchen will teach families how to make a delicious Mediterranean grain and vegetable salad. First come, first served; activity ends when supplies run out.

    12:30 p.m.: Kieren van den Blink will present a special preview reading of her forthcoming book, Yum. A selection of the author’s previous books will also be available for signing.

    1 p.m.: Learn how easy it is to grow your own tomatoes, and then make your own chunky tomato salsa with Kitchen Kid. Limited to 15 children; each child must be accompanied by an adult. Instructor must be notified in advance of any allergies. Sign-up sheet will be available at the information desk.

    2 p.m.: Award-winning children’s book author Allen Say discusses and signs his new graphic novel, The Inker’s Shadow, which tells the story of his own coming-of-age at a military academy and his discovery of what it means to be American.

    3 p.m.: Discover the benefits of gardening and composting in a fun hands-on workshop led by Hope Gardens. Limited to 20 children. Sign-up sheet will be available at the information desk.

    3:30 p.m.: Join a sing-along with environmentally conscious tunes provided by Em is for Music.


    Supported by 
    Saturday, November 14, 2015
    11:00 AM—4:00 PM

    JANM Free Family Days: Pop Mania



    Join us for a day of pop culture-themed activities in honor of Giant Robot Biennale 4.



  • See Giant Robot Biennale 4 and complete our scavenger hunt to win a prize.

  • Make a special custom button with a design started by a Giant Robot artist and finished by you.

  • At Ruthie’s Origami Corner, learn how to fold an origami dinosaur.

  • Contribute your creativity to our mural wall! Use magazine cutouts and other odds and ends provided by us to create a collective collage.

  • Decorate some fashionably funky glasses and wear them with style.

  • Let off some steam in our Robo Ranger Superhero Bounce House.

  • Take a break and relax with a book in our Reading Corner.


    11:30 a.m.–12 p.m.: JANM staff will offer a beginner’s drawing workshop in which participants learn how to draw a giant lizard monster attacking a city!

    12 p.m.: Live Drawing demonstration inside the galleries by artist Edwin Ushiro.

    1 p.m.: Art workshop led by artist Yukinori Dehara. Seating limited. Sign up at the survey table early!

    2 p.m.: Paper doll workshop led by artists Kozue and Dan Kitchens (kozyndan). Seating limited. Sign up at the survey table early!

    3 p.m.: Art workshop led by artist Yoskay Yamamoto. Seating limited. Sign up at the survey table early!


    Check back for updated schedule.


    Supported by 
    Saturday, December 12, 2015
    11:00 AM—4:00 PM

    JANM Free Family Days: Mele Kalikimaka



    Celebrate the holidays island-style, as our friends at KoAloha Ukulele lead performances, workshops, craft activities, and other holiday-inspired fun.



  • Decorate a miniature paper palm tree.

  • Build a Hawaiian-style snowman.

  • Make a festive paper Japanese lantern at Ruthie’s Origami Corner.


    11 a.m.–12:30 p.m. / 1:30 p.m.–3 p.m.: Make holiday and island-themed postcards in woodblock printing workshops led by KoAloha Ukulele. Musicians Ryo and Ryan will be available to sign cards.

    11:15 a.m.–12 p.m. / 12:15 p.m.–1 p.m. / 1:15 p.m.–2 p.m. / 2:15 p.m.–3 p.m.: Bring your own ukulele for free lessons in basic playing techniques, presented by KoAloha Ukulele’s artist partners.

    11:30 a.m.–12 p.m. / 12 p.m.–12:30 p.m. / 1 p.m.–1:30 p.m. / 1:30 p.m.–2 p.m. / 2:30 p.m.–3 p.m. / 3 p.m.–3:30 p.m.: An exciting array of ukulele performances are scheduled throughout the day, featuring KoAloha Ukulele’s local and international artist partners.

    12 p.m.–3 p.m.: Have your photo taken with Asian American Santa in Nerdbot’s Hawaiian-style photo booth. A JANM holiday tradition!

    3:30 p.m.: Close out the day with a spectacular all-star jam finale featuring Kalyn Aolani, Ryo and Ryan, Mike Sullivan, and Torrance Ukulele Group.


    Supported by 



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