Japanese New Year and Other Events This January
In Japan, at least since the later half of the nineteenth century, the New Year begins on January first (per the Gregorian calendar) just as it does here. But in Portland, Japanese New Year festivities are held throughout the month. In fact, everything from mochi pounding and taiko drumming, to anime screenings and manga exhibitions are happening this month in the Rose City.
Maybe it’s to avoid competing with other Portland New Year’s traditions and celebrations, or maybe it’s just to celebrate Japanese culture in Sapporo’s sister city. But whatever the reason, we’re happy to keep the celebration going and to take a deeper dive into Japanese culture throughout the month of January with these fantastic events.
Manga Hokusai Manga
The Portland Japanese Garden has been hosting a traveling exhibition examining the venerable Japanese Ukiyo-e (woodblock print) artist Hokusai through the lens of contemporary and historical manga. If you’re intrigued by traditional Japanese printmaking techniques, their imagery, or contemporary comics, then this exhibit is a definite must-see.
Hokusai is arguably the grand master of the art form who is commonly considered most-responsible for bringing the Japanese aesthetic into the view of the Western world. His work influenced artists and architects throughout the West, including Vincent Van Gogh and Frank Lloyd Wright. This exhibit reframes his work as a cornerstone for much of manga and the other disparate artforms it has influenced. December 1st through January 13th at the Portland Japanese Garden.
Studio Ghibli Retrospective at OMSI
From January 10th through January 27th, OMSI will be showing the films of internationally beloved animator, director, and producer Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki, whose career in manga and anime spans several decades, has been a major influence in the Japanese anime and international animation communities since he first broke out with his late eighties film Grave of the Fireflies.
OMSI will be screening eighteen of Miyazaki’s films and a documentary about the filmmaker and artist over the course of the month, including Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, Princess Mononoke, and academy award-winner for best animated film, Spirited Away. January 10th through the 27th at OMSI.
This is the big one! Mochi pounding is a traditional component of New Year’s celebration throughout Japan. Mochi is so integral to celebrating the New Year in Japan, that the New Year’s celebration is named after it. The New Year is marked every year by the traditional pounding of rice to make mochi.
This annual event, held on the downtown campus of Portland State University, brings together Japanese cultural and community organizations for a day of Japanese arts and crafts exhibitions (including traditional mochi pounding), music and other performances, food, and community. All are welcome. January 27th at PSU’s Viking Pavilion.
Celebrating the Return to the Light and Japanese Culture
Portland has a long-standing and (some would say) special relationship with the nation and people of Japan. Our city enjoys one of the largest Japanese communities in North America, and the Japan-oriented cultural events happening around the city this January are a reflection of that. Get out and enjoy the return of the light, with a few special events that Japanese culture has to offer beyond your local favorite sushi bar or izakaya!