JANM’s Natsumatsuri Is a Free Day of Fun for All

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The Japanese American National Museum (JANM), 100 N. Central Ave. in Little Tokyo, will present its annual Natsumatsuri (Summer Festival) on Saturday, Aug. 15, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission to the yearly celebration featuring Japanese and Japanese American performances, crafts, and activities is free, and all current exhibitions will be available for viewing.

Highlights of the day will include a joint performance by TaikoProject and Chicano fusion band Quetzal, an introductory lecture on JANM’s just-opened special display titled “Jidai: Timeless Works of Samurai Art,” a scavenger hunt, and karaoke. General admission seating for the lecture and all performances is on a first-come, first-served basis.

East L.A. Taiko, led by Maceo Hernandez, performed at last year’s Natsumatsuri. (Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

East L.A. Taiko, led by Maceo Hernandez, performed at last year’s Natsumatsuri. (Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

The complete schedule is as follows.

All-Day Activities

Face-Painting: Visitors can put on their best summer festival face with Party Face Magic. An express line will be available for JANM members.

Family Art Project: In a special activity inspired by two current exhibitions, guests can create an artwork about their family using light-sensitive paper.

Greetings from Natsumatsuri: Attendees can make a fun postcard greeting to send to a friend.

Natsumatsuri Hats: Supplies will be on hand for paper hats, a signature craft at Natsumatsuri.

Ruthie’s Origami Corner: JANM volunteer Ruthie Kitagawa will show visitors how to make an origami version of the traditional kimonos worn during Obon, Japan’s summer festival to honor the memory of ancestors.

Scavenger Hunt: Guests can use smart phones or cameras to take pictures of the items from JANM’s list, then take the images to the Information Booth to claim a prize, while supplies last.

Toddler Room: Toddlers have a special place to relax and play with other toddlers. Children must be supervised by an accompanying adult at all times.

Wishing Tree: Wishing trees are a popular summer tradition in Japan, appearing as part of the annual Tanabata Festival. Visitors can write their wish on a tanzaku (strip of ceremonial paper) and tie it to a bamboo tree at JANM’s Tanzaku Wish station.

Scheduled Activities

Gina Hiraizumi, Randy Guiaya and Lauren Kinkade Wong served as judges at last year’s karaoke contest.

Gina Hiraizumi, Randy Guiaya and Lauren Kinkade Wong served as judges at last year’s karaoke contest.

11 a.m.: Signups begin for the karaoke open mic.

11 a.m. and 3 p.m.: Free screenings of “Lilo & Stitch,” the popular animated children’s film set in Hawaii.

11:30 a.m.: JANM volunteer Hal Keimi will give a basic taiko drumming lesson — a Natsumatsuri tradition.

12 p.m.: Live screen-printing demonstration with Grow Your Own Media begins. Natsumatsuri T-shirts, in children’s sizes only while supplies last, will be available to commemorate the day. An express line will be available for JANM members.

12:30 p.m.: Summer will be celebrated with a community Bon odori (traditional Obon dance), with music provided by contemporary Japanese folk group Minyo Station.

1 p.m.: Karaoke open mic begins.

2 to 4 p.m. Meet Your Museum: Visitors can stop by the lobby of the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy to learn more about JANM’s mission, upcoming exhibitions, and the benefits of being a member. Museum volunteers will be on hand to answer questions.

2 p.m.: Curators Michael Yamasaki and Darin S. Furukawa will present an introductory lecture on “Jidai: Timeless Works of Samurai Art.” Learn about the unique forging process and special properties of the Japanese samurai sword and see how the distinctive armor of the warrior class functioned not only as protection, but as a reflection of the wearer’s personality. Reserved seating will be available for JANM members.

2 p.m.: An exciting performance by taiko/rock fusion band Random Ninjas. Reserved seating will be available for JANM members.

3 p.m.: Minyo Station will present a short concert featuring their unique blend of contemporary influences and traditional Japanese folk music. Reserved seating will be available for JANM members.

4:15 p.m.: A special joint performance from the high-energy TaikoProject and the innovative Chicano fusion band Quetzal bring a fun-filled day to a rousing finish. Reserved seating will be available for JANM members.

For more information, visit http://janm.org/natsumatsuri2015.

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