HONOLULU - Heart pounding taiko commanded attention Sunday morning at the 23rd Annual New Year's 'Ohana Festival at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii as celebrations kicked off. Crowds packed the festival to experience all things Japanese across the street at Mo'ili'ili Field.

"The 'Ohana Festival is really a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate the New Year, enjoy Japanese culture, Japanese food, Japanese performing arts," said Carole Hayashino, JCCH President. 

Tummies likely left satisfied with a wide range of grinds to choose from -- mochi, andagi, KC Waffle Dogs and shave ice, just to name a few. The Honolulu Hiroshima Keijin Kai booth served traditional okonomiyaki. The pancake layered with cabbage, pork and noodles is a crowd favorite, organizers said.

Chef Tomo Ishihara flew in special from Japan to fry up the delicacy.

"Today when he started cooking, I was amazed at the speed and how quickly he can cook the okonomiyaki. He's doing it from his heart and his love for Hiroshima perfect and knowing that we have descendants from Hiroshima we sort of feel the same way," said Wayne Miyao, Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai President

Net proceeds from sales will go toward college scholarships.

There was no shortage of the arts -- from graceful dances to traditional Bonsai were highlighted. Roy Yamashiroya of the Hawaii Bonsai Association has become a master of the centuries old tree trimming skill the last 25 years and said attention to detail and patience are key factors. 

"It's a living art and you don't want to kill it, and for that reason you want to make sure that you're doing the right thing in terms of pruning it and wiring it and shaping it," Yamashiroya said. 

This year's festival celebrates the year of the Monkey.