The Japanese Community Association of Hawaii, based in Hilo, will hold its ninth biennial Kodomo no Matsuri — Children’s Day Festival on Saturday, May 12, from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin Sangha Hall. In Japan, May 5 has been designated as “Kodomo no Hi,“ a day to honor all children.
The theme for this year’s JCAH festival is “Kokoro — Heart, Mind, Spirit.” Admission to the festival is free and commemorative Kodomo no Matsuri hachimaki (headbands) will be given to the first 150 children.
“The festival is being planned for children of all ages to enjoy and learn about the Japanese culture and arts,” said JCAH president Ivan Nakano. The festival will also celebrate the 1868 arrival of the Gannenmono, the first group of Ja-
panese who settled in Hawai‘i 150 years ago and became the first Japanese immigrants to work on the sugar plantations.
One of the highlights of the festival will be demonstrations by 2017 national yo-yo champion Evan Nagao of Honolulu. Nagao was just a toddler when he began playing the yo-yo. At the age of 4, he appeared on the “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno”; “Ellen,” hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and “Ripley’s Believe it or Not.” In addition to the U.S. national title, the now 21-year–old Nagao won the 2017 European yo-yo championship and placed sixth at the World Yo-Yo Contest in Reykjavik, Iceland. A limited supply of World Yo-Yo Iceland 2017 Commemorative Plus Yo-Yos will be available for purchase.
Kodomo no Matsuri will also feature performances by Puna Taiko and appearances by Japanese superhero Kamen RiderV3.
There will be lots of free hands-on and make-and-take activities for all ages, including bonsai plant shaping and care, kazaguruma making (pinwheel); kabuto (ancient warrior helmet) and koinobori (carp) folding, origami (paper folding), irezumi (face painting), washi chigiri-e (torn paper art), shibori (Japanese tie-dye) and tea ceremony for children by Urasenke’s Hilo Shibu. There will be a fee for activities such as sakana sukui (fish scooping) and somen nagashi (somen noodle “catching” in a bamboo trough). Japanese calligraphers will be on-hand to write your name on rice paper, which can be framed and given as gifts.
Kids will also have a chance to win prizes and test their skills and challenge their friends at the Jan Ken Po and Nintendo Switch Just Dance contests.
Food booths will be selling snacks, bentö and shave ice, and commemorative Kodomo no Matsuri — Gannenmono T-shirts will be available for purchase.
Additionally, Malie Ibarra, a senior at Ka’ü High School, who wrote the children’s book, “Tita the Turtle,” will autograph and sell her books and a limited supply of “Tita the Turtle” T-shirts, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Malie wrote and illustrated the story and activity book to address the subject of violence and to teach children “different meanings of aloha.”
Kodomo no Matsuri is presented by the Japanese Community Association of Hawaii, with support from sponsors Hawai‘i Island Gannenmono Committee, Roy and Gladys Sonomura, HST Enterprises Inc. and Creative Arts Hawaii.