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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.


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new year's ohana festival dancer

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.

 

new year's ohana festival mochi pounding

 

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.

 


SEE ALSO: Best of the Fests: O‘ahu’s 21 Annual Ethnic Festivals


 

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.

 

new year's ohana festival bonsai

 

How Much It Costs

Admission is free and open to the public.

 


SEE ALSO: How 5 Popular Ethnic Festivals in Honolulu Adapt While Keeping Traditions Alive


 

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.

 

new year's ohana festival andagi

 

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.

 


SEE ALSO: Why the Cherry Blossom Festival’s Ancestry Requirement Change Still Matters


new year's ohana festival cherry blossom

 

Entertainment

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.

 


 SEE ALSO: Inside Honolulu: Drumming Up Inspiration


new year's ohana festival blessing

 

Tips

  • 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.

 


SEE ALSO: 17 Nisei Veterans Share Stories of the Lives They Built in Hawai‘i After World War II


 

For more information, visit jcchohanafestival.com.

 

READ MORE STORIES BY JAYNA OMAYE

 

 

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