Your Ultimate Guide to the 2020 New Year’s ‘Ohana Festival in Honolulu
It’s time to celebrate the rats—those born in the Year of the Rat, of course—at the 27th annual New Year’s ‘Ohana Festival on January 12.
Photos: Courtesy of Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i
It’s almost 2020 and time to celebrate one of the first cultural events of the year. The New Year’s ‘Ohana Festival typically draws a crowd of about 10,000 people to Mō‘ili‘ili. And with the upcoming 2020 Summer Olympics being held in Tokyo, it’s a great time to learn more about Japanese culture and New Year’s traditions.
Here’s your guide to what to expect, where to park, what to eat and more.
What It Is
Organized by the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i, the festival is among the largest Japanese cultural celebrations in the Islands. It’s held at two venues—JCCH and nearby Mō‘ili‘ili Field—and features a craft fair, food, live entertainment on two stages, cultural displays and games.
When and Where
Festivities begin at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Jan. 12, at the JCCH, 2454 S. Beretania St., and across the street at Mō‘ili‘ili Field. The event ends at 4 p.m.
How Much It Costs
Admission is free and open to the public.
Where to Park
Grab a spot at UH’s parking structure and take a shuttle to and from the event starting at 7:30 a.m. Parking and shuttle service are both free.
What to Eat and Drink
More than 20 food booths will be stationed on Mō‘ili‘ili Field. Popular dishes include okonomiyaki, andagi, waffle dogs, grilled mochi, bento boxes and Spam musubi.
On the JCCH’s fifth floor, shop your way through more than 30 craft booths.
The JCCH hosts traditional tea ceremonies, the Cherry Blossom Festival’s opening ceremony and kimono dressings, where families can have photos taken while dressed in traditional Japanese attire ($75 for JCCH members and $90 for nonmembers).
Check out the JCCH stage to watch live performances, including taiko and Japanese dance. Learn more about Japanese traditions, including calligraphy, origami, bunka shishu (embroidery) and kumihimo (braiding), at the cultural demonstrations. Entertainment begins at 10 a.m. with a taiko performance. Head to Mō‘ili‘ili Field for mochi pounding, keiki games and more live entertainment.
For full event schedules for the JCCH stage, dojo and Mō‘ili‘ili Field, go here.
In honor of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, a few former Japanese American Olympians from Hawai‘i—swimmers Ford Konno and Richard “Sonny” Tanabe and martial artists Kevin Asano and Taylor Takata—will be at the festival autographing limited-edition trading cards.
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Come early. The beginning of the festival is one of the best times to be there. Reserve your spot in front of the main stage on Mō‘ili‘ili Field and watch a traditional Shinto blessing ceremony at 9:30 a.m.
Pick up a program and map when you arrive. Both will be available at the JCCH information booth.
Dress comfortably. There is a lot to see, eat and watch, so wear comfortable shoes and clothing. There will be a lot of people there, and half of the entertainment (and all of the food) will be outside, so a hat and sunscreen wouldn’t be a bad idea either.
For more information, visit jcchohanafestival.com.