Japan House’s Matsuri Festival works to educate, unite the community
August 29, 2016
Thousands of people gathered for live music, shopping, food and fun at Japan House’s Matsuri Festival Sunday night.
Among several other activities, around 15 local vendors sold food and about 10 local artists sold products such as clothes, jewelry and art. There were also a variety of activities for adults and children to participate in like Japanese dressing, making pots with a ceramicist, joyful bubbles, bubble art and face painting, martial arts demonstrations and a calligrapher from Japan.
After a successful first festival last year, this year’s Matsuri Festival was highly anticipated.The festival strives to unite University students with the Champaign community.
“Sometimes we have a divide and I really wanted to bring everyone together and celebrate it in a happy, exciting, heartwarming way that sparks joy and make people say ‘wow’,” said Jennifer Gunji-Ballsrud, director of Japan House.
To spark that joy, music groups Michiyoshi and Ho Etsu Taiko took the stage and gave an energetic performance.
Ho Etsu Taiko traveled from Chicago to perform at the Matsuri Festival for the second year to demonstrate its self-produced drum concert. Five members sang and drummed in synchronization while one played the recorder. During one song, one member, who came from Japan, painted on a large canvas while the band continued to play.
Jason Matsumo, director and artistic director for Ho Estu Taiko, has been involved in Japanese drumming for about 27 years. It is a great way to bond with family members who taught him how to drum, he said, and to stay connected with Japanese culture and bring joy to viewers.
“The name of our group means to spread joy,” Matsumo said. “The mission of this festival is to bring joy so looking out and seeing people enjoy it and the sun setting in the background and anticipating fireworks was a really positive feeling.”