SANTA ROSA — On Saturday, May 24, the fifth annual Matsuri! Japanese Arts Festival will take place in Juilliard Park and the SOFA Arts District of Downtown Santa Rosa from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
It is organized by Sonoma County Matsuri and co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League, Affinity Solar Energy, Snoopy’s Home Ice, and many other community supporters.
The festival has grown to become recognized as one of the signature cultural festivals in the North Bay. It was attended by 2,500 people in 2013. The festival is offering deep insights into Japanese culture, increasing the participation of Bay Area artisans, artists, and performers of authentic Japanese traditional arts.
The free-to-the-public festival will set up a stage in Juilliard Park and offer non-stop Japanese traditional entertainment in the form of taiko drumming, traditional dancing and singing, and martial arts demonstrations in several traditions. Also, there will be a variety of exhibitors and vendors who bring Japanese arts, crafts, clothing, and food. There will be plenty of activities for children, some of which will include traditional storytelling, origami, and more. As in the past, there will be exhibits of related traditional Japanese Arts in the district’s galleries.
“We work very hard to give people opportunities to experience traditional and authentic Japanese culture first-hand,” says Cara Kallen, Sonoma Matsuri board member. A portion of the festival’s proceeds will go to a scholarship fund that helps sponsor educational opportunities in Japanese culture for Sonoma County youth.
In addition, as a prelude to the festival day, Sonoma County Matsuri will offer a special evening performance by Theatre of Yugen, a highly acclaimed traditional noh and kyogen performance group in San Francisco. “Kyogen — It’s Noh Joke: Three Traditional Japanese Comedies in English” features three segments: “Kaki Yamabushi” (Persimmon Mountain Priest), “Busu” (Sweet Poison), and “Kaminari” (Thunder God). It will be held at the Church of One Tree in Santa Rosa on Friday, May 23, at 7 p.m. and the tickets are $25.
Sonoma County Matsuri Festival is a non-profit organization based in Santa Rosa. Its mission is to share and promote Japanese arts and culture by providing educational opportunities and better intercultural understanding in the greater Bay Area.