Chef Steven Nakata studied the delicate art of sushi-making under the guidance of Japanese master chefs.

On Saturday he will demonstrate how to make the perfect rolls at Kauai Museum’s Japanese cultural festival.

The authentic rolls Nakata will be preparing in the museum courtyard are only part of the festivities Saturday at the museum. Taiko drumming, a shakuhachi flute performance, classes in bon dance, hanafuda cards and origami are all part of the cultural offerings taking place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. There will also be a live auction.

“I grew up in a Japanese catering business,” said Nakata, who teaches culinary arts as a chef instructor at Kauai Community College. “My grandparents opened a catering business on Oahu and they were actually trained in Japan. When I learned Japanese cuisine, I was trained by master chefs from Japan and I quickly realized that I wasn’t a very good Japanese. You really don’t realize what the Japanese tradition is about when you’re brought up in Hawaii. The Japanese food is not cooked the same way here that it is there. It’s all Americanized.”

Sushi will be for sale at the event, while other activities like origami and sand art will be free.

The annual event is usually attended by several hundred people. It is free for Kauai residents and visitors receive discounted admission.

The festival also coincides with a Japanese kimono exhibit in the museum’s new heritage gallery.

The museum’s mission is to perpetuate the island’s indigenous and immigrant cultures and every month the museum honors a different cultural festival. Next month the museum will celebrate Hawaiian culture. In October it will celebrate Niihauian culture.

Lyah Kama-Drake, event chair and museum education coordinator, said the goal of the Japanese festival is to feature one of the many cultures on Kauai. It is a great opportunity for people of all ages to learn and have fun.

“We want to share our cultures with our visitors as well as our community,” she said.


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