KAHULUI - The 13th annual Maui Matsuri on May 3 and 10-11 will honor Japanese cultural traditions with its annual theme of "Kodomo No Tame Ni" (for the sake of the children).
Young and old alike will delight in this year's offerings of entertainment, demonstrations, food, crafts and unique contests.
This year's Japanese festival honors the courage, perseverance and strength of our ancestors. The kanji for "gambare" is imprinted on this year's poster and festival shirts.
The Maui Matsuri will conclude with a community obon dance. All are welcome to wear a hapi coat or kimono and join in.
A kimono fashion show, taiko by Maui Taiko, Japanese dance performances and a jankenpo contest will be the highlight of the Maui Matsuri kickoff event on Friday, May 3, at 6:30 p.m. at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center.
The kickoff event will include a children's coloring contest sponsored by Sanrio and conclude with obon odori practice around the center stage at 8 p.m.
A free Family Movie Night will be held on Friday, May 10, at 6:30 p.m. in the University of Hawaii Maui College Student Center (Pilina Building).
"Jake Shimabukuro: Life on 4 Strings" and "Light Up Nippon" will be the featured films. Bento dinners and water will be available for purchase at the event. Pre-orders are suggested by calling 283-9999 by May 8. Pre-sale tickets will be on sale at the Matsuri Kickoff event on May 3.
The Matsuri festivities will continue on Saturday, May 11, from 2 to 9 p.m. at UHMC. The campus will be transformed into a Japanese village dotted with stalls selling mouthwatering goodies and crafters offering their Japanese-inspired products.
Entertainment stages and demonstration areas will showcase the best of Maui County's Japanese and Okinawan talent as well as traditional martial arts and contests.
Contestants are sought for the saimin and natto eating contests, and the costume cosplay (costume play) contest. The fourth annual Hanafuda Tournament is also scheduled.
Keiki have a world of their own at the Kodomo Corner, where hands-on, free craft activities such as origami and gyotaku (Japanese fish printing) will be available.
The festival ends with a community obon dance at 7:30 p.m. The community is invited to wear a hapi coat or kimono and join in on the dancing.
Admission to the festival and parking are free. Co-chairs of the festival, Kay Fukumoto, Yuki Lei Sugimura, Rodney Ryugo and Brian Nagami, are grateful to the Maui Matsuri committee and the more than 300 volunteers who help to produce this festival.
For more information on the Maui Matsuri, call 282-9999 or visit www.mauimatsuri.com.