Back to their roots

The 29th Matsuri Kauai Cultural Festival will be 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall. It is free.

Kauai Japanese Cultural Society formed in 1985 to organize events around the Kanyaku Imin centennial celebration of a century of Japanese immigration on Kauai. The organization started the Matsuri (holiday) Kauai, to build cultural understanding and to strengthen the relationship between Japan and the United States.

“At that time, Mayor Tony Kunimura requested that we to help with the celebration and put on show,” said Pearl Shimizu, event organizer and founding KJCS member. “Every time that we have this festival we learn something new of the culture.”

The event is successful in part because people of Japanese ancestry who forgot or did not associate with their culture as a youth will sometimes realize its importance later.

“They want to know their roots sometimes but then there is no one there to learn from,” Shimizu said. “That is one reason to keep it going so that people still have this connection to Japan and the culture.”

The event kicks off at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony officiated by Rev. Kosen Ishikawa, followed by messages from Pearl Shimizu, Kauai Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr., Iwaki City Mayor Mayor Toshio Shimizu, and Moriyama City Mayor Kazuhiro Miyamoto.

There are 75 Japanese visitors expected to attend. One is the Rev. Koichi Miyoshi, who used to run the Kauai Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe. He raised seven children on Kauai and helped form the society and festival before returning to Japan.

The festival was not held in 1993 following Hurricane Iniki. It was not held in 2011, in part for the support of Japan following the earthquake and tsunami.

The Kyoto region town is a Kauai sister city of 40 years. Iwaki City of the Fukushima province became another sister city just months before the tragic earthquake and tsunami that devastation the region in 2011.

The Japan delegations will include chambers of commerce and Rotary Club members that reestablished the student exchanges with Kauai again.

Sue Igari of Iwaki will travel to Kauai to perform her magic show. There will also be five members of an Iwaki hula group to perform.

Iwaki is considered the hula capitol of Japan.

A Soba noodle making and sampling demonstration will be held from 9:15 to 10:45 a.m. It will be taught by Takahiro Hirayama, of Iwaki, along with Yukio Matsumoto, Kenji Furukawa, and Mutsumi Furukawa, of Chiba.

“They are making soba from scratch,” Shimizu said. “They use flour, kneading it, rolling it out, cooking it and then sampling it from morning until lunch.”

Keiko Ida of the University of Hawaii will serve as the Kimono Kitsuke for children and adults. It celebrates the transition of children into middle childhood. A photo is available to children and adults for $50 per dressing.

The “Chado” tea ceremony will be from 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.

At the same time, watch a traditional mochi pounding of rice into the gluten to mix with bean paste for cakes. The Mochi Tsuku will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. with the Herbert Miyazaki Family assisted by Ray Nitta and David Nekomoto.

Nancy Hayata, of California, will perform an introduction of a new Mini Ondo Dance from 2:15 to 3 p.m. Other Japanese dancers include Fujima Saeka, of Maui, along with Erick Iwata of Oahu.

A martial arts demonstration will feature three experts of the Shoin-Ryu style of Okinawa.

Sensei Art Ishi will travel from Okinawa, to join Sensei Erik Matsunaga of Chicago’s Ravenswood Shoin-Ryu Dojo, and Sensei Walter Nishinaka of Little Tokyo’s Matsubayashi Shoin-Ryu Dojo in Los Angeles. They exhibition will also include Okinawan octagonal sai, swords and sickles.

Kyle Chew Oshie will demonstrate the art of Japanese quilted picture making.

A “shodo” calligraphy demonstration will be offered by the Rev. Nicole Sakurai and Mr. Kyle Chew.

Students of various Japanese school and cultural groups will demonstrate how to make hachimaki stylized bandanas and other artwork.

Various taiko groups will be performing throughout the day. The bon dance takes place in the afternoon.

The festival has partnered with local high schools and Kauai Community College. The students help out as volunteers and performers for the event, and more of them take language and culture in and out of school as a result.

“We are looking for people who would like to take over,” Shimizu said. “They just need to be passionate about the culture.”


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