Memorable Matsuri

LIHUE — Mikela Puig was surrounded by the Japanese culture Saturday at the 30th annual Matsuri event at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.

She liked it.

“Normally, there are influences of other cultures around, but to be surrounded by only the Japanese culture is interesting,” said Puig, a member of Kapaa High School’s Japanese Club.

The club was one of many organizations at the event which was started to promote, perpetuate and appreciate the Japanese culture.

The Rev. Tomo Hojo of the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission was thrilled to be part of the opening ceremony where the new Consul General Yasushi Misawa was formally introduced, along with a delegation from Kauai’s sister cities Suo-Oshima and Iwaki City, Japan.

Hojo bubbled with excitement while waiting for the mochi-tsuki, or mochi-pounding, demonstration.

“This is like the old days,” said Herbert Miyazaki. “We’re going to do the mochi family style with my son — just like how we did at the Koloa Hongwanji.”

Activities hosted by Hawaii residents and visiting Japanese guests filled the morning along with the opportunity for bento and shopping among vendors.

Matsuri ended with a mini version of the community bon dance.

Chie Roessler, Kauai High School Japanese Club instructor, spoke with guests from Iwaki City interested in establishing a hula program for high school students.

“These people are with the ‘Hula Girl’ movie,” Roessler said. “Hula, since the movie became available, has become very popular in Japan. These gentlemen said they just started a hula competition among 21 schools in Japan, and want to be able to do something in Hawaii with hula.”

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