FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - December 11, 2018


Leslie Unger - - 213-830-5690


Oshogatsu 2019 Year of the BoarLos Angeles, CA—The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) will present its annual Oshogatsu Family Festival on Sunday, January 6, 2019, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the new year celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities is free and all ages are welcome to help ring in the Year of the Boar.

Highlights of the day will include two mochitsuki (rice pounding) demonstrations, with mochi samples for tasting; sample bowls of lucky zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles) to bring good health in the New Year; and fukubukuro (lucky grab bags) for sale at the JANM Store. There will also be a variety of craft activities, souvenir photos, a scavenger hunt with prizes, and a performance combining a Japanese calligrapher’s dance and taiko drumming. Additionally, toy designer Mark Nagata, whose collection is featured in the exhibition Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys, will give a talk about his latest special edition sofubi toy figure—an homage to the character portrayed by actor Gerald Okamura in the movie Big Trouble in Little China. Nagata and Okamura will then sign purchased figures, which are hand-painted by Nagata.

JANM members are eligible for a number of special privileges, which are noted in the full slate of activities below.


  • Get into the spirit of the new year with a pig ears headband.

  • Write down a goal for the year. Then have your photo taken with your goal and decorate the photo. Hang it up at home as reminder for 2019.

  • Grab some fun props and pose for a souvenir photo at the Nerdbot Photo Booth. (Express Line for members.)

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

  • Children can enter the Kids’ Raffle to win a candy sculpture created by Shan Ichiyanagi (Shan the Candyman). While supplies last. Limit one (1) raffle ticket per child. (Members receive two chances to win a prize.)

  • Surround yourself with plush pig and boar toys at the pig pen. A boar coloring station will also be located at the pig pen.

  • The museum’s youngest visitors can head to the Toddler Room to relax or play with other small children. NOTE: All children must be supervised by an accompanying adult at all times.

  • The JANM Store will have fukubukuro (lucky grab bags) for purchase.


11 a.m.–3 p.m.: Lucky Soba Noodles
Kidding Around the Kitchen will hand out sample bowls of lucky zaru soba (cold buckwheat noodles) to bring good health in the new year. Kids can top the soba with their choice of tofu, vegetables, and nori (seaweed). While supplies last.

11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m.: Live Art Performance
Ruki: Power of Flow is a collaboration between taiko and Japanese calligraphy. Combining contemporary elements and traditional art forms, Ruki pairs the calligrapher’s dance performance with strong taiko beats to celebrate the new year. Performed by Japanese calligrapher and hip hop dancer Kuniharu Yoshida and taiko player Walter Nishinaka. (Reserved seating for members.)

11:30 a.m.–5 p.m.: Candy Sculptures
Shan Ichiyanagi (Shan the Candyman) will demonstrate the ancient, and now rarely practiced, Asian folk art of candy sculpting, as he makes candy in the shape of boars and other animals of the Asian zodiac. Finished pieces will be offered as prizes for the Kids’ Raffle noted above.

12 p.m.–4:30 p.m.: Osechi-Ryori Tasting
Sample a selection of traditional Japanese new year foods, including various sweets and vegetables, and learn about what each dish means. While supplies last. (Express Line for members.)

12:30 p.m.–1 p.m. Artist Conversation
To mark the release of Kaiju vs Heroes artist Mark Nagata’s latest special edition sofubi toy figure—an homage to the character played by Gerald Okamura in the movie Big Trouble in Little China—Nagata will discuss how this project came to fruition. (Reserved seating for members.)

1 p.m.–2 p.m.: Toy and Print Signing
Mark Nagata and Gerald “Man of Many Weapons” Okamura will sign figures and a special print of the header art created for the toy following the artist conversation. The figure is hand-painted by Nagata and limited to 45 pieces. (Express line for members.)

2 p.m. and 4 p.m.: Mochitsuki Demonstration by Kodama Taiko
Making fresh mochi is a beloved Japanese new year tradition. Join Kodama Taiko for their unique mochitsuki (rice pounding) demonstration, which incorporates taiko drumming, and enjoy delicious mochi samples while supplies last.

Exhibitions on view for Oshogatsu Family Festival include Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys, Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit, and JANM’s ongoing core exhibition, Common Ground: The Heart of Community.

For more information, visit


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Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys
Through March 24, 2019
In California in the 1970s, Mark Nagata was living an all-American childhood when an aunt and uncle serving on a US military base in Japan sent him a box filled with some of that country’s most popular toys. They were kaiju and heroes, and these gifts inspired him to zealously collect vintage Japanese vinyl toys over the course of his entire life. Kaiju translates to “strange creature” in English but has come to mean “giant monster” referring to the creatures like Godzilla and Mothra that inhabited the postwar movie and television screens of Japan. The advent of these monsters brought about the creation of characters to combat them—hence the emergence of pop-culture heroes like Ultraman and Kamen Rider. Kaiju vs Heroes: Mark Nagata’s Journey through the World of Japanese Toys showcases hundreds of dazzling vintage and contemporary Japanese vinyl toys, providing a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit
Through April 28, 2019
Gambatte! Legacy of an Enduring Spirit features modern and historical photographs documenting the stories of Japanese Americans who were forcibly incarcerated during World War II. Large-format contemporary photos taken by Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Paul Kitagaki Jr. are displayed next to images shot 75 years ago by such noted photographers as Dorothea Lange, Ansel Adams, and others; each pairing features the same individuals, or their direct descendants, as the subject matter. Inspired by the Japanese concept of gambatte—to triumph over adversity—the exhibition chronicles the strength and legacy of a generation of Japanese Americans who persevered over unimaginable hardship.

Common Ground: The Heart of Community
Incorporating hundreds of objects, documents, and photographs collected by JANM, this exhibition chronicles 130 years of Japanese American history, from the early days of the Issei pioneers through the World War II incarceration to the present. In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, the final section of Common Ground has been reimagined to further emphasize the redress movement, the landmark passage of the Act, and its relevance today.


About the Japanese American National Museum (JANM)
Established in 1985, the Japanese American National Museum promotes understanding and appreciation of America’s ethnic and cultural diversity by sharing the Japanese American experience. Located in the historic Little Tokyo district of downtown Los Angeles, JANM is a hybrid institution that straddles traditional museum categories and strives to provide a voice for Japanese Americans as well as a forum that enables all people to explore their own heritage and culture. Since opening to the public, JANM has presented over 80 exhibitions onsite and traveled 20 of its exhibitions to locations around the world, including the Smithsonian Institution and the Ellis Island Museum in the United States, and several leading cultural museums in Japan and South America.

JANM is located at 100 N. Central Ave., Los Angeles. Museum hours are Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m. General admission is $12 adults, $6 students and seniors, free for members and children under age five. Admission is free to everyone on Thursdays from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. and every third Thursday of the month from noon to 8 p.m. General admission prices and free admission times may not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Closed Monday, 4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. For more information visit or call 213.625.0414.