The Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California will hold its traditional New Year’s festivities, “Oshogatsu in Little Tokyo,” on Sunday, Jan. 1, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The event offers the atmosphere of a Japanese New Year’s celebration in Los Angeles. Since its debut in 1999, the purpose of the event has been to introduce traditional Japanese culture to as many people as possible in order to inculcate understanding between Japan and America. Last year, an estimated 10,000 people attended.
The venue has centered around Weller Court, the Kyoto Grand Hotel and Garden, and Japanese Village Plaza. Activities include shishimai (lion dance), taiko drumming, koto performances, kimono shows, and martial arts demonstrations.
The main stage will be erected in Weller Court. For the opening ceremony, the Consulate General of Japan has invited 10 groups to demonstrate traditional Japanese arts. The ceremony will feature calligraphy, a kagami-wari or kagami-biraki (opening of a sake cask), USC Kazan Taiko, and the Miss Kimono contest.
Very popular last year were booths offering yakisoba and crafts such as origami and kite-making, so this year, 20 stores will set up stalls.
Adjoining Weller Court is Onizuka Street, where every year the traditional mochitsuki is conducted with spectators joining in to help pound fresh mochi.
“Happy New Year Sake Tasting 2012” will be held at Weller Court from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Over 20 brands of quality sake will be imported from throughout Japan for this event. Admission is $20.
Japanese Village Plaza will sponsor a number of activities, including mochitsuki, shishimai, martial arts, a cosplay contest (in which people dress as their favorite anime/manga characters) and a karaoke contest on a stage in front of Nijiya Market. Restaurants and stores in the plaza will also be open. The events run from 12 to 4 p.m.
Weller Court is near the intersection of Second and San Pedro streets. JVP has entrances on First and Second streets between San Pedro and Central.
For more information on the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California, call (213) 626-3067 or visit www.jccsc.com.