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Maui Matsuri celebrates Japanese culture

By Staff | May 12, 2011

The Maui Matsuri will feature a variety of contests, including a saimin eating competition.

KAHULUI — The 11th annual Maui Matsuri on May 13-14 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 art, entertainment, contests, crafts and food.

This year’s Japanese festival will be dedicated to the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan and will salute the spirit of Japan for its efforts to rebuild the country during this time of tremendous grief.

A free Family Movie Night featuring “Great Grandfather’s Drum,” a documentary of the history of Japanese Americans in Hawaii, will be shown on Friday, May 13, in the University of Hawaii-Maui College (UHMC) Student Center (Pilina Building) at 6:30 p.m., followed by “Memories of Tomorrow” starring Ken Watanabe.

The Matsuri festivities continue on Saturday, May 13, from 2 to 9 p.m. at UHMC. The grassy knolls of the campus will be transformed into a bunkamura (Japanese village) dotted with stalls selling mouthwatering goodies and a variety of crafts.

Demonstration and entertainment stages will showcase the best of Maui County’s Japanese and Okinawan talent as well as traditional martial arts and eating contests.

Contestants are sought for the saimin and natto eating contests, as well as the costume cosplay (costume play) contest.

The second annual Hanafuda Tournament is also scheduled, along with the seventh annual Manga and Art Drawing Contest. All Maui County residents are encouraged to enter.

There are two categories: traditional art or manga, a mixture of comic book, modern art and literature that creates a unique and very popular Japanese art form.

Submissions will be judged in three age divisions for both manga style and traditional art categories: grades 3-5, 6-8 and 9-12.

The top three winning contestants from each category and age division will be awarded cash prizes. For information on the contest, contact Gwen Henry at 250-9666 or download the information and forms at www.mauimatsuri.com.

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. Headliners include Japanese super heroes Kikaida and his friends at 3:30 and 5:30 p.m.

The festival ends with a community obon dance starting from 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, although donations will be collected for relief efforts in Japan.

Event co-chairs are Kay Fukumoto, Yuki Lei Sugimura, Tiffany Iida and Lynn Araki-Regan. Presented by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, the 11th annual Maui Matsuri’s other sponsors and supporters include the Hawaii Tourism Authority, County of Maui, IBEW Local Union 1186, Island Honda, Maui Taiko and UHMC.

For more information on the Maui Matsuri, call 283-9999 or visit www.mauimatsuri.com.