New Year's Event Focuses on Japanese Style of Celebration

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New Year's Event Focuses on Japanese Style of Celebration

Many Japanese celebrate Lunar New Year's Day in a similar way to Koreans – by eating a lot and congratulating each other on the new year. They may indulge in dishes such as ozoni, red bean porridge with a rice cake dumpling, and osechi, seafood and vegetables presented in a lacquered box.

The Japanese also take part in other traditional New Year's Day activities less common in Korea. For example, practicing hattsumoude, visiting a Buddhist temple to wish for good luck and playing games like hakuninitssu, a traditional card game, and hagoita, wherea feathered shuttlecock is hit with a wooden bat.

"New Year's Day in Japan" is the title of a cultural festival on now at the Public Information and Cultural Center of the Embassy of Japan in Jongno-gu. Last year, the festival drew more than 8,000 visitors. The line-up of cultural events for the festival this year runs until Friday.

As all the events are free – though some do require a reservation – it's an excellent opportunity to get to know Japanese culture better. "Introduction to J-POP" is an exhibition of the newest Japanese pop music videos and CDs in the Japanese Music Information Center on the first basement floor of the building. The exhibition is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Another interesting exhibition is "Kamishibai Original Paintings." Kamishibai is a monodrama where an actor narrates the plot while continuously illustrating his tale with paintings relevant to the story. The exhibition contains original kamishibai folkloric paintings that date back to the 1920s. The exhibition is in the Silk Gallery on the second floor of the center. Opening hours are 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will also be a demonstration of
kamishibai by a professional storyteller on Wednesday at 3 p.m.

Yamaguchi Yasuo, animation film producer, will give a lecture on the history and future prospects of Japanese animation, also on Wednesday at the New Century Hall on the third floor of the center.
The lecture will start at 6:30 p.m.

Okiraku, a troupe of comic actors who have performed many times at the center, promise to find visitors' funny bones on Friday at the New Century Hall. The performance will begin at 3 p.m.

A Japanese tea ceremony or hassukama traditionally takes place on the 7th day of the new year. There will be a demonstration of hassukama at the Silk Gallery on Thursday at 2 p.m. Visitors to the event will have a chance to taste traditional Japanese tea and refreshments.

For more information, call 02-765-3011.

by Park So-young

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