Maui Matsuri to celebrate the Gannenmono
CENTRAL MAUI – The 18th annual Maui Matsuri is a chance for the community to honor, celebrate and perpetuate Japanese culture through festivities happening this week. Admission is free to most events.
This year, Maui Matsuri joins in on the statewide celebration of the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the first group of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, or Gannenmono.
On Wednesday, May 2, watch the arrival of the Kaiwomaru training vessel. Wave your welcome from one of the many vantage points around Kahului Harbor as the four-masted sailing ship arrives from Japan at 10 a.m. The Kaiwomaru embarked on its journey specifically to join in at the Maui Matsuri festivities and to celebrate the Gannenmono.
On Thursday, May 3, watch a screening of the 2017 film “Go For Broke: An Origin Story” at Wailuku’s historic Iao Theater at 6 p.m.
In addition to the 150th anniversary of the Gannenmono, this year also marks the 75th anniversary of the U.S. incarceration of Japanese during WWII. The film, featuring an all-Japanese American cast, tells the tale of the start of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team of World War II.
On Friday, May 4, the Maui Matsuri Musical Extravaganza is slated at the University of Hawaii Maui College Great Lawn. This tribute to Maui’s plantation heritage will be attended by over 100 crew members of the Kaiwomaru training vessel and feature many Hawaii favorites, including comedian Frank De Lima, social media ukulele phenoms Honoka & Azita, and Maui’s own Uluwehi Guerrero. Joining them on stage will be San Francisco Awa Odori group Awakko Ren and a number of other local performances representing Hawaiiian, Chinese, Korean, Filipino, Portuguese and Japanese cultures.
The Maui Matsuri Festival Day will be on Saturday, May 5, at UHMC. A full day of fun starts at 2 p.m. and concludes with a community Obon dance from 7:30 to 9 p.m. Entertainers, food booths/trucks, keiki crafts, martial arts demonstrations, eating contests, cultural exhibits, a cosplay exhibition, video game tournament and much more await on the final and biggest day of Maui Matsuri.
Matsuri organizers are also looking for contestants to enter the following festival contests on May 5: cosplay, video-gaming, manga and art, and the always entertaining natto and saimin eating contests. Those who are interested in entering can do so at the festival.
For a complete listing of contests and guidelines, visit www.mauimatsuri.com.
The Maui Matsuri festival is presented by the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui with major support by the County of Maui, Hawaii Tourism Authority, Island Honda, IBEW-Local Union 1186, Maui Taiko and UH Maui College.
For more information, call the festival hotline at (808) 283-9999 or visit www.mauimatsuri.com.