ALERTPlease note: the museum will be closed on Sunday, Feb 2 for a private event. The next Target First Free Sunday will take place on Feb 9.

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New Year's Bell-Ringing Ceremony

30th Annual Japanese New Year’s
Bell-Ringing Ceremony Kicks off Museum’s 50th Anniversary

Thursday, Dec 31
9:30 AM (Members only), 11:30 AM (Open to the public)
Samsung Hall
Free with museum admission
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Ring in the New Year by taking a swing at a 2,100-pound, 16th-century Japanese temple bell during our popular annual ceremony, celebrating its 30th year. Led by Rev. Gengo Akiba, with opening remarks about the Japanese New Year by community leader Yoshie Akiba, this inspiring event will include a purification ritual and chanting of the Buddhist Heart Sutra. 

According to tradition, the bell will be struck 108 times on New Year’s Eve to usher in the New Year and curb the 108 mortal desires (bonno) that, according to Buddhist belief, torment humankind. Each toll is struck after the reverberations from the preceding toll have dissipated. Rev. Akiba will begin the bell-ringing, and museum visitors may then take turns ringing the bell to leave behind any unfortunate experiences, regrettable deeds or ill luck from the previous year. In Japan, the last toll traditionally coincides with the first few seconds of the New Year. The Asian Art Museum’s ceremony takes place during the day.

The ceremony also serves as a festive kick-off for the museum's 50th anniversary year, to be celebrated with a host of activities throughout 2016. Since opening in 1966, the Asian Art Museum has welcomed global audiences to the beauty and depth of Asian art and cultures.  

Museum visitors wishing to participate will be assigned numbered tickets on a first-come, first-serve basis at the admissions desk; 108 groups of up to six people will be assembled to strike the bell. No advance reservations will be accepted. Hands-on art activities will also be offered in the education studios. The cost is FREE with museum admission. 

Members are invited to a special members-only ceremony at 9:30.

We make every effort to allow all our visitors an opportunity to participate in this ceremony. However, to ensure you have a chance to ring the bell, it is recommended that you arrive in Samsung Hall no later than 10 AM for the member ceremony or 12 PM for the public ceremony.