Saturday, January 19, 2013

Oshogatsu Festival - Happy New Year, Japanese Style

Ringing in the Year of the Snake, the Morikami Museum and Japanese gardens, situated in Boca Raton, hosted a Japanese Oshogatsu Festival on January, 13, 2013. There were Japanese Shishimai (Lion Dances), a mochitsuki making demonstration, traditional Japanese fortune telling, kite flying, dancing, and so much more.

Approximately 7,000 visitors were expected to show, and the festival was absolutely packed, brimming to the rim with people. It was difficult to even walk through the main lobby without brushing shoulders with at least a few strangers.

I worked as a volunteer, and helped out at the T-shirt silk screening station. Visitors would bring or buy blank t-shirts and get them ink silk screened with their choice of two designs: a Japanese lion (Shishimai), or a four-squared design featuring a Daruma doll (wish doll), a snake, flowers, and fan, which represented the new year of the snake. My partner, Jordan, screened the designs onto the shirts, while I sealed the ink with a hot iron press. This was such a popular activity among the visitors that a never-ending stream of people would continuously line up to get a customized silk screened Oshogatsu t-shirt. In fact, we eventually had to switch from black ink to red because we ran out of main supplies (luckily, Jordan came prepared). Some people were so excited that they literally took their own shirts off (of course, they had something underneath) to get them designed.

The Oshogatsu Festival was a blast. If you would like to experience one for yourself, then you will have to wait until next year. However, there is a Hatsume (Spring) Fair coming up in March, which will be held or two days on March 23 and 24.

Hope to see you there.

Until next time.

Karam Atli