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

2016 Events

Saturday, February 13, 2016
11:00 AM—4:00 PM

JANM Free Family Days: Making Music



Celebrate the joy of music with us, as we present a variety of musical performances and music-themed crafts and activities for the whole family.



  • Build a kazoo and make some noise!

  • Shake things up by constructing a pair of maracas.

  • Learn to fold a paper piano at Ruthie’s Origami Corner.

  • Hang out in our Jam Space, where kids can play with an array of toys and instruments.

  • Indulge in some virtual fun inside the Big Game Trailer, a custom-built mobile gaming theater with six large screens that can accommodate 24 gamers simultaneously. Featured will be music-themed video games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band.


    11:30 a.m.–12 p.m.: Children’s Tunes
    Michal “Peanut” Karmi performs original children’s tunes like “Ooey Gooey Mud” and “Six Little Pickles” on her ukulele.

    12:15 p.m.–1 p.m.: Drum Circle
    Visitors of all ages are invited to join an invigorating drum circle led by Drumtime.

    1:15 p.m.–2 p.m.: Story Time with Violin
    Enjoy a reading of Chieri Uegaki’s delightful children’s book, Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin, with musical accompaniment by violinist Megan Shung Smith. A solo performance by Smith will follow. The book is available for purchase at the JANM Store and

    2 p.m.–2:30 p.m.: UniverSOUL Hip Hop
    UniverSOUL Hip Hop, a community-based K–12 cultural education group, will conduct an interactive deejaying and dancing demonstration.

    2:45 p.m.–3:15 p.m.: Mariachi Music
    Listen to traditional mariachi sounds with a modern twist from Grupo Bella, an all-female mariachi band from Los Angeles.

    3:30 p.m.–3:45 p.m.: Taiko Drumming
    USC Kazan Taiko, the collegiate taiko drumming ensemble of the University of Southern California, brings the day to an end with a dynamic performance.


    Supported by 
    Saturday, April 9, 2016
    11:00 AM—4:00 PM

    JANM Free Family Days: Protect Our Planet



    Join us for a day of fun activities to encourage everyone to “think green.”



  • Make a Green Pledge stating what you can do to help the environment. Take home an instant photo of you and your pledge to help you remember it throughout the year.

  • Create your own biodegradable planter, then plant a seed and take it home to watch it grow.

  • Learn to fold paper cranes with recycled paper at Ruthie’s Origami Corner.

  • Decorate your own reusable shopping bag. For children only; first come, first served.


    11 a.m.–3:30 p.m.: From Trash to Trees with reDiscover
    reDiscover Center, a nonprofit organization that promotes creative conservation through material reuse, presents an art activity for all ages. Using upcycled materials from households and industry, participants will craft tabletop models of the trees that dot our urban landscape. Each child or group will make a tree to add to a miniature forest, and then take home their creation at the end of the day.

    11:30 a.m. / 2:30 p.m.: Bird Feeder Workshop
    Make and decorate a bird feeder out of recycled milk cartons. Seeds will be provided. Limited to 20 children; must be accompanied by an adult. Sign up at the Survey Table.

    1 p.m.: Art Workshop with My Papel Picado
    My Papel Picado, a family organization dedicated to preserving the Mexican folk art of papel picado (cut paper), presents a fun and educational activity for children. Using recycled materials and brightly colored tissue paper, create your own decorative papel picado. Limited to 20 children; must be accompanied by an adult. Sign up at the Survey Table.

    3:30 p.m.: Eco-Friendly Tunes and Stories with Claire Mills
    Children’s entertainment specialist Claire Mills will present her unique, interactive mix of music and storytelling, with a thematic focus on the sun and its power.


    Sponsored by 


    Saturday, May 14, 2016
    11:00 AM—4:00 PM

    JANM Free Family Days: Fantastic Photography



    Strike a pose, take a selfie, or snap a shot! This day is all about photography.



  • In a special activity inspired by the photographers of Making Waves, make a photogram using light-sensitive paper.

  • Visit Nerdbot’s retro photo booth and pose for a short series of impromptu shots with your family and friends.

  • Complete your collection of travel photography by snapping your selfies at our stations designed to represent locales around the world.

  • Get a novelty balloon that’s shaped like a camera! One per child, while supplies last. Line ends at 3:30 p.m. or when supplies run out.

  • Fold your own origami camera at Ruthie’s Origami Corner.

  • Decorate a picture frame and take it home to hold a favorite photo.


    11 a.m.–3 p.m.: Making Waves Photo Contest
    With the images in Making Waves as inspiration, create your own abstract photos using materials that we will have available at the end of the exhibition. Visit our printing station to take home a copy of your best composition and enter it in our contest to win a special prize at the end of the day. Prize courtesy of Bandai.

    12 p.m. and 2 p.m.: Photography 101
    Bring your favorite picture-taking device (camera, phone, tablet) and learn the basics of photo composition from JANM’s knowledgeable volunteer photographers. Children only, maximum 10 kids per session, must be accompanied by an adult.

    Sponsored by 


    NOTE: In addition to street closures in the area, there is a large event in Little Tokyo on the evening of May 14 which may impact parking availability throughout the day. We encourage visitors to the JANM Free Family Day to consider public transportation and/or allow additional time to locate parking.


    Saturday, June 11, 2016
    11:00 AM—4:00 PM

    JANM Free Family Days: Celebrating Family



    In conjunction with the Mixed Remixed Festival, JANM presents a day of activities that explore the meaning of family.



  • Construct a mobile to show what each member of your family means to you.

  • Create a family out of finger puppets.

  • Make a Father’s Day card at Ruthie’s Origami Corner.

  • Use our Instax camera to snap instant photos of you with your family or friends. Take these home, or use them in our 3 p.m. Family Scrapbooking Workshop!

  • Let off some steam inside our always-popular bounce house.


    11 a.m.–3 p.m.: Name Art Souvenirs
    Names often hold fun or important family stories. Let one of our artists make a souvenir artwork out of your family name or given name, which you can then take home.

    11:30 a.m.: Reading by Maria Leonard Olsen
    In collaboration with the Mixed Remixed Festival, JANM hosts author Maria Leonard Olsen, who will read from her book, Mommy, Why’s Your Skin So Brown? The book was written for her bi-racial children as a response to people’s confusion over her skin being darker than theirs.

    1 p.m.: Reading by Katrina Goldsaito
    In collaboration with the Mixed Remixed Festival, JANM hosts author Katrina Goldsaito, who will read from The Sound of Silence, her forthcoming book about a child’s experiences with the many sounds that can be heard in the bustling city of Tokyo.

    2:15 p.m.: Luce Puppet Co. Presents The Wizard of Oz
    Enjoy a puppet version of this classic story about a girl who finds herself in a faraway land and then comes home to learn the real meaning of family.

    3 p.m.: Family Scrapbooking Workshop
    It’s time to get going on that scrapbook of family memories! Bring your own family photographs or mementos and we’ll help you decorate a starter page.


    Sponsored by 


    Saturday, July 9, 2016
    11:00 AM—4:00 PM

    JANM Free Family Days: Handy Crafts



    Inspired by Above the Fold, this Family Day will explore origami and other fun handmade crafts.



  • Learn to fold a paper frog at Ruthie’s Origami Corner—a JANM favorite!

  • Visit our various origami stations to work on projects at the skill level of your choice. There will be beginning, intermediate, and advanced stations available. We will even have a pop culture-themed project to keep things lively!

  • Throughout the day, internationally renowned artist Nori Shirasu will offer drop-in origami classes, in which he will demonstrate a variety of techniques.

  • Create imaginative pencil toppers out of pipe cleaners.

  • Make puffy pom-poms out of yarn.


    11 a.m.–3 p.m.: Andantino String Duo
    Relax and listen to classical and pop music by the Andantino string duo while you work on your craft projects.

    3:30 p.m.: Decades of Rock
    Join 2015 Nisei Week Court Princess Veronica Ota as she rocks out with her band, Decades of Rock. Enjoy their renditions of classic rock and R&B hits from the 1960s through today.


    Sponsored by 


    Saturday, August 13, 2016
    11:00 AM—5:00 PM

    Natsumatsuri Family Festival



    Join us for our annual summer celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities.

  • Musical performances by LA Matsuri Taiko, Common Souls, and Shin Kawasaki

  • Basic taiko drumming and bon odori dance lessons

  • Airbrush and henna temporary tattoos

  • Fun crafts including origami and the ever-popular Natsumatsuri paper hats

  • Museum scavenger hunt with prizes courtesy of Bandai

  • Free samples of saataa andaagii (Okinawan deep-fried pastries)

  • JANM Members Only reserved seating and express lines

  • …and so much more!


    Check for complete schedule.

    Supported by Los Angeles County Arts Commission and The Bandai Foundation.


    Saturday, November 12, 2016
    11:00 AM—4:00 PM

    JANM Free Family Days: Incredible Inks



    In conjunction with our current exhibition Tatau: Marks of Polynesia, join us for a day of crafts, workshops, and performances that celebrate Polynesian culture and the art of tattoos.



  • Get a cool custom JANM temporary tattoo.

  • Try designing your own tattoos and motifs using traditional Samoan techniques such as the upeti board.

  • Learn to fold origami sharks with patterned paper at Ruthie’s Origami Corner


    11 a.m.–2 p.m.: Face Painting Station
    Before getting your cool temporary tattoo, be sure to stop by our face painting station for a complete “inked” look, courtesy of Party Face Magic. Line ends at 1:30 p.m.

    11:30 a.m.: Story Time with Tasi’s Gift: A Tale of Samoa
    Join us for an entertaining reading of the children’s book, Tasi’s Gift: A Tale of Samoa. Set on Samoa’s Upolu Island in the distant past, Tasi’s Gift is a touching story about Tuala, a young girl who learns the value of selfless giving from her grandfather Tasi, with the help of a surprising assortment of creative animals.

    12 p.m.–12:30 p.m.: Samoan Slap Dance Workshop
    Learn fa‘ataupati (Samoan slap dance) in a workshop with performer Diamond. This energetic dance is traditionally done by boys only, but the workshop is open to everyone.

    1 p.m.–2 p.m.: Hula Dance and Fire Knife Workshops
    Join Lopati for beginning lessons in hula dance and fire knife dance.
    *Please note we will NOT be using actual fire or knives.

    2 p.m.: Samoan Cultural Performance
    Kanana Fou Church Youth Group will perform traditional Samoan dances.

    3:15 p.m.: Samoan Siva Dance Workshop
    Learn to do the Siva (the Samoan word for “dance”) with Moana Sulu‘ape. This slow dance is traditionally for girls only, but the workshop is open to everyone.


    Plus, free admission all day to see Tatau: Marks of Polynesia, Uprooted: Japanese American Farm Labor Camps During World War II, and Common Ground: The Heart of Community.



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