Year of the Sheep: Oshogatsu Family Festival

Create crafts and get festive at the Japanese American National Museum.

The spirit of New Year's carries on and into the coming weeks as we prepare to welcome the Year of the Sheep.

But we don't have to wait for late January to start celebrating in spots like Little Tokyo and Chinatown; the Japanese American National Museum is looking ahead to the festivities with a festive and free day of activities and cultural-fun goodness on Sunday, Jan. 4.

It's the Oshogatsu Family Festival, a get-the-new-year started party that waives admission while filling a weekend day with plentiful haps. An origami workshop will be one of those plentiful haps on Jan. 4, as will a Darumi Doll craft table. (Darumi Dolls, of course, are whimsical ways to "set your goals and wishes for the new year.")

Sheep balloons will be given away during the day. Does that deserve a few exclamation points? Because sheep-shaped balloons don't come along very often. So: Sheep balloons will be given away during the day!

And the much-accoladed Shan Ichiyanagi will demonstrate the ancient, and now rarely practiced, Asian folk art of candy sculpting. (One guess as to what those shapes will be: Think fluffy and woolly and soft-eared and sheeply.)

Music from UniverSoul Hip Hop, a mochi-making demonstration, and samples of lucky soba noodles -- think luck for the coming year -- are part of the happy doings.

Note that while the Oshogatsu fest is free of admission, you will need to pay to see "Hello! Exploring the Super Cute World of Hello Kitty." Word has it that a certain bow-sporting superstar'll be around, giving out hugs.

A hug from Hello Kitty, lucky soba noodles, and sheep-shaped balloons? The coming months are feeling highly auspicious, indeed.

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