CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — When the staff of Japan House planned its first Matsuri festival last year to celebrate Japanese culture, they estimated the crowd might approach 1,000 people. Instead, between 3,000 and 4,000 showed up.
This year, the festival will have more food, more water and more volunteers to better accommodate such a crowd.
The Matsuri festival will be from 2 to 7 p.m. Aug. 28 at Japan House, 2000 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.
Matsuri is a way for the community to learn more about Japanese culture.
The Ho Etsu Taiko drum group perform for the crowd at the inaugural Matsuri festival in 2015.
Photo provided by Japan House
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The event will feature musical performances by Ho Etsu Taiko, a Chicago-based taiko drum group that played at the festival last year. The group will play two performances, including the finale of the festival.
“We’re hoping to finish with fireworks, because that is traditional in Japanese festivals,” said Cynthia Voelkl, the assistant director of Japan House.
Michiyoshi Sato will perform Tsugaru-shamisen music at the festival. The shamisen is a three-stringed Japanese instrument, and Tsugaru-shamisen is a particular style of playing.
“It’s a very percussive style of shamisen. It really can be kind of fiery,” Voelkl said, adding that the style is sometimes referred to as Japanese banjo and has similarities with bluegrass music.
The festival will also include martial arts demonstrations, bonsai and ikebana (flower arranging) displays, kids’ activities such as bubble art and Pokémon face painting, Japanese calligraphy, Cosplay (dressing in costume as a character, often from Japanese comics or video games) and Yukata (summer kimono) dressing, and tea ceremonies.
There will be more vendors at this year’s festival, including those offering kimonos, Japanese pottery and local art.
Local food vendors will serve Asian food or food using Asian-inspired ingredients. Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery will sell Asian-inspired gelatos.
The music performances, demonstrations and most of the activities are free. Tickets are required for the tea ceremonies, Cosplay and Yukata dressing, and calligraphy tattoos, as well as for food and drinks.
A limited number of tickets will be available online for the five tea ceremonies that will take place during the festival, and tickets will be available at the festival, as well. Food and drink tickets also can be purchased online. Go to http://go.illinois.edu/matsuri for tickets.