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Oshogatsu | Morikami Celebrates the New Year

Stephen Brown

Resolutions already broken? Don’t the let the New Year’s festivities fizzle; come celebrate Oshogatsu and the Year of the Horse at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens on Sunday, January 12. Japan’s traditional New Year’s bash, Oshogatsu is celebrated throughout January, bringing family and friends together to participate in traditional ceremonies, performances and dining.

Fushu Daiko - Oshogatsu - Morikmai Museum and Japanese Gardens   So about that horse… The Japanese New Year is celebrated in accordance with the Japanese zodiac, represented by twelve animals in a twelve-year cycle. As the story goes, Buddha invited all the animals of this world to join him in his kingdom, but only twelve came. To show appreciation, he named a year after each one of them, thus creating the cycle. The Year of the Horse is said to be a harbinger of good luck, while people born under the horse zodiac are said to be warm-hearted, intelligent, talkative and real go-getters.

This year's Oshogatsu festival, the Morikami's thirty-seventh, will feature some of Japan’s most important New Year rituals and activities to mark the New Year. Visitors can take part in mochitsuki, the pounding of rice to make mochi, large Japanese cakes. This traditional activity, always a crowd pleaser, requires at least two people to take turns pounding the cooked rice with a large wooden mallet, flipping the rice mound between strikes.

  • Catch demonstrations at 12:30, 1:30 and 3 p.m.

Another favorite custom is shishimai, the lion dance, accompanied by taiko drumming by Fusho Daiko. At the end of the dance, the lion "bites" the heads of a few watchers to bring luck.

  • Performances will thunder at the Shishimai Stage at 12, 1:30, 3:30 and 4:30 p.m.

The museum also is hosting tea ceremony demonstrations, which encourage participants to learn and practice serenity, peace and meditation.

  • Ceremonies will take place at Yamato-kan at 12:30 and 4 p.m.

Musical performances by Friends of Koto will take to the Uma stage (12:30, 2 and 3 p.m.), while the fan favorite omikuji, Japanese fortune-telling ($1), will predict good fortune for the year to come.

Shishimai lion dance - Oshogatsu - Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

   Returning this year, the Morikami’s DIY Daruma Wall from 2013 will be on hand to let last year’s participants color in the remaining eye of their daruma, signifying that their New Year’s wish came true. Also on hand, 2014’s Daruma Wall, representing the Year of the Horse. Visitors can write their wishes and color in one eye of their personal daruma. The following year, they can return to color in the second eye once the wish comes true. And for those interested in the origin, history and contemporary celebration of Oshogatsu, the Morikmai education staff will lead an introductory lecture.

   The celebrations include a variety of kid games: Go, Hanetsuki, which is similar to badminton; Daruma Otoshi, a Jenga-like game with a hammer; and Fukuwarai, similar to Pin the Tail on the Donkey, in which players arrange the features of a blank face. There will also be a kid-friendly New Year’s storytime about the origin of the Japanese zodiac and the 12 animals represented (12:30 and 3 p.m.).

   For eats and drinks, the Kirin Beer Garden and Sake Station will have all the adult beverages one can handle. The Cornell Café will offer an abridged a la carte menu for festivalgoers, while food vendors will be on hand to fill any epicurean void with Pan-Asian and American fare.

  • Festivities begin Sunday, January 12, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • For tickets and more information, call 561-495-0233 or visit morikami.org.

 Daruma Doll - Oshogatsu New Year festival - Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens - 36th annial

Photography courtesy of the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

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