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New Year’s Redux

Dance and drums at the Japan Society.

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Never mind that the Japan Society’s New Year’s celebration is a week late, on January 13, for logistical reasons. A party’s a party, and kid-friendly activity stations will dot the Society’s landmark building. (Some are limited to ten or fifteen kids, to avoid crowding, so it’s best to get there early.) In the lobby: a customary rice-pounding demonstration will produce mochi, or soft rice cakes. (Kids won’t be able to sample what is actually being squashed on-site with a big wooden mallet “for hygienic reasons,” explains press officer Aya Akeura, but there’ll be catered versions for tasting.) In the language center: a chance to practice writing kakizome, traditional New Year’s calligraphy, plus a special demonstration by a master calligrapher. In the library: kite-making (they’ll actually fly), with various versions for different age groups. Meanwhile, the first floor will be a veritable game parlor: You can spin tops, try out a word-matching card game, or play fukuwarai, a game in which blindfolded players create funny faces on paper. Next, take in performances of miko (shrine-maiden) and shishi-mai (lion) dances, stories in English and Japanese, and traditional taiko drumming. A masked dancer with a white mane will weave in and out of the crowd, just as is done in public places like shrines and even the streets in Japan at this time of year. “Almost everything shuts down in Japan. Everyone is on break,” says Akeura. “It’s just like Christmas here—you get together, you see all of your relatives, you eat together.” There’s an idea to make Christmas with the in-laws better next year: Blindfold them and have them draw faces.

1/13, 2 and 3 p.m. Japan Society, 333 E. 47th St., nr. First Ave. (212-715-1258 or japansociety.org); $20 per family of five, purchase in advance.


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