21st Annual Maui Matsuri includes Japanese Festival and Children’s Day events
Maui Matsuri returns to the University of Hawaiʻi Maui College on Saturday, May 27 from 3 to 9 p.m., and will kick-off this Saturday, May 20 with Children’s Day at the Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Now in its 21st year, the Maui Matsuri festival continues to showcase a vibrant and diverse Maui community and has provided a venue to gather and celebrate a wide array of Japanese cultural arts and traditions.
Both events are free and are open to both residents and visitors. This year’s festival theme is ichi go ichi e – a Japanese philosophical concept that reminds us to treasure the unique, unrepeatable nature of a moment or encounter, for it will never recur.
Children’s Day, May 20
Children’s Day includes multicultural performances from Maui Taiko, King Kekaulike High School Jazz Band, Maui Buyo Dance Academy, Hālau Hula O Keola Aliʻi O Ke Kai, Isle of Maui Pipe Band and Dance International Production. Mise Kimono also presents a kimono fashion show featuring traditional and modern looks.
There will be recognition of awards, such as for the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui’s scholarship recipients, winners of HouseMart Ben Franklin Crafts’ art contest, and a special teacher dedication arranged by women educators in the Maui Chapter of Alpha Delta Kappa, a partner organization that helped organize Children’s Day.
In addition, there will be special STEM demonstrations from Kalama Intermediate School, Pukalani Elementary School, Maui Waena Intermediate School and Kamehameha High School.
There will be hands-on activities and kids’ crafts, and those wanting to purchase Maui Matsuri shirts may do so. The program will be emceed by Maui’s own Kathy Collins. At the close of the event, the public is encouraged to join a bon dance practice.
Festival Day, May 27
Maui Matsuri’s festival day features cultural entertainment presented by TJ’s Warehouse at the college’s Great Lawn from Maui Okinawan Taiko, Maui Taiko, Zenshin Daiko, Nakayama Minyo Kai, Maui Dance Klub, Maui Minyo Kai, demonstrations by Mitsune Kendo Dojo, and guest performers from Taiko Center of the Pacific, which includes a crowd favorite lion dance.
At the festival, JCSM also recognizes an outstanding business that is Japanese-owned, and has been an ally in its mission to preserve and perpetuate Japanese culture and traditions. This year, the distinguished Business Award will be presented to the Nakashima family of Upcountry landmark Pukalani Superette.
Contests also return this year with the Sam Sato’s Saimin Eating Contest and the Shore to Shore Realty Natto Eating Contest. Registrations are ongoing with the Cosplay contest, organized this year by Nightdarling Cosplay and sponsored by Mise Kimono. There will be exciting prize drawings for the festival’s passport program and event survey.
Plus, the community can enjoy food booths and trucks, craft vendors, exhibits and the return of the children’s craft area called Kodomo Corner.
“We look forward to celebrating Japanese culture with the community as we return to UH Maui College after four years,” said Kit Furukawa, president of Japanese Cultural Society of Maui. “We are so grateful to the sponsors and many hands that put this event together to keep traditions alive and help perpetuate the culture for our keiki. Let’s make beautiful memories together and please stay for the finale – a Community Obon Dance. Dust off your happi coats for the first obon dance of the season.”
Maui Matsuri is produced by a team of volunteers led by co-chairs Kay Fukumoto, Brian Nagami and Jennifer Sumida. The festival is presented by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, and supported in part by the County of Maui and the Office of Economic Development. Other major sponsors are Island Honda, IBEW Local 1186, UH Maui College, Queen Ka‘ahumanu Center and Maui Taiko.
For more information, visit the festival website at mauimatsuri.com. For those interested in volunteering, call 808-283-9999.