Craft activity at JANM’s 2020 Oshogatsu event. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

The Japanese American National Museum will celebrate the new year with “Oshogatsu Virtual Family Festival: 2021 Year of the Ox,” a five-day festival featuring interactive festivities for all ages including multilingual story times, play performances and a JANM membership raffle for participants beginning on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 and running through Friday, Jan. 8, 2021.

This virtual festival is sponsored in part by the Department of Cultural Affairs of the City of Los Angeles and the Nissan Foundation, with support from its media sponsor, The Rafu Shimpo.

Among the ongoing events throughout the week are the Year of the Ox Scavenger Hunt in which participants are invited to explore the JANM website and their own neighborhood for specific items. Those completing the task can submit a photograph of their finds to become eligible for free passes and other prizes. There is also a Year of the Ox Coloring Page.

In conjunction with the Virtual Family Festival, JANM’s Discover Nikkei project is seeking images from its global followers and other interested parties that exemplify their New Year’s traditions. These can include family gatherings, holiday food and any other cultural customs. Because of the pandemic, Discover Nikkei encourages participants to submit photos from past family New Year’s celebrations to by Jan. 8 or upload images directly to the Nikkei Album.

The festival begins on Sunday, Jan. 3, at 12 noon (PST) with the Oshogatsu Kick-Off. The festival is accessible by going to The festival’s schedule features special content available through the JANM YouTube site and several at-home activities:

Monday, Jan. 4: Education Craft Corner

10 a.m.: Create a cute ox to celebrate the new year using only the supplies found around your house with instruction on the JANM YouTube channel.

At-Home Activity: Check out our interactive activities, like an origami frog (or kaeru) (recommended ages 13+) or an origami kori basket (recommended for all ages).

Tuesday, Jan. 5: Oshogatsu, Unboxed

10 a.m.: Take a peek into the JANM’s permanent collection to see artifacts related to celebrating the new year with a special behind-the-scenes video. Watch on the JANM YouTube channel.

At Home Activity: Tell Your Story: Curate a (mini) Collection. Take inspiration from the storytelling in JANM’s exhibition “Common Ground: The Heart of Community” to choose and display objects, images, and documents that hold meaning for you and your family’s story.

Wednesday, Jan. 6: Storytime with JANM

2 p.m.: Join JANM for a multilingual storytime in English, Spanish, and Japanese of a traditional Japanese folk tale, “Issun-boshi.” In this traditional Japanese story, Issun-boshi is only one inch tall, but his bravery and wit take him on adventures both big and small. Watch on the JANM YouTube channel.

At Home Activity: Read your favorite story out loud to your family, pets, stuffed animals, or plants and, with an adult, explore more Japanese folk tales and Japanese American stories from our store or your local library.

Thursday, Jan. 7: Artists at Play LA: Question 27, Question 28

2 p.m.: Part of JANM’s mission is to share the Japanese American experience in all of its complicated details. Join Artists at Play LA for a virtual performance of “Question 27, Question 28,” a play by Chay Yew and directed by Jully Lee, which is about struggle, courage, and resilience during World War II. They will be presenting an abridged version that has been shortened and edited for children. RSVPs are required.

Friday, Jan. 8: Friday Food!

1 p.m.: Get an exclusive, behind-the-scenes tour of a restaurant during the busiest holiday of the year. Azay Little Tokyo and Chef Akira Hirose will demonstrate the process of developing and preparing their special Oshogatsu menu. Only for JANM members, who must RSVP.

2 p.m.: Join a conversation around traditional Oshogatsu foods, like osechi-ryori and ozoni, and share your own food-related traditions. Special guests from local businesses and restaurants in Little Tokyo will chat about how they share Oshogatsu recipes and traditions today. Watch on the JANM YouTube channel.

For more information on the “Oshogatsu Virtual Family Festival: 2021 Year of the Ox,” go to

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