Free: JANM Natsumatsuri Family Festival

A Taiko workshop is one highlight of the kid-sweet, activities-aplenty day.

When Nisei Week Japanese Festival, the history-filled festival that takes place in and around Little Tokyo each summer, officially opens on Saturday, Aug. 19, there will be much to admire and applaud throughout the bustling area.

But surely some of the coolest kids will be sporting a festive Natsumatsuri hat, a creation that they will have made on their own.

We're talking, of course, about that large-of-brim, papery, highly whimsical chapeau that speaks to the joys of the Natsumatsuri Festival, a buoyant, come-together celebration of summer.

That free festival will be happening at the Japanese American National Museum, and while it won't last for the entire run of the nearby Nisei Week, which concludes on Sunday, Aug. 27, families will find plenty of activities and workshops throughout the day on Saturday, Aug. 19.

All you and your hat-making tots need to do? Make your way to JANM for a jubilant roster of to-dos, from a Taiko workshop (kids will learn the first steps in making powerful percussive music) to the Ruthie's Origami Corner (creating a "jumping frog" is the theme) to the beautiful Bon Odori community dance.

A Happi Coat photo booth, traditional Okinawan treats for sale, the making of an original superhero character, and a petting zoo spotlight kaeru — hello, little frogs — and reptiles are but three more of the many happenings.

A moving and important centerpiece of the day is the Paper Cranes for Peace activity, which will ask visitors to "...fold paper cranes for Harvest of Hope, a project that aims to collect 1.5 million cranes in memory of children who died during the Holocaust." 

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Take time to fold a crane, to spend some minutes in reflection, and to honor the music, history, memory, and joy of Natsumatsuri, the heart of summertime, on Saturday, Aug. 19 at the Japanese American National Museum.

For the full Nisei Week schedule, including the Nisei Week Rubik's Cube Open, a spirited showdown which will take place early on the morning of Aug. 19 at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, start here.

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