Nihon Matsuri will celebrate Utah’s Japanese culture and history
The festival, located at Japantown Street –100 South between 200 West and 300 West in Salt Lake City, is open to the public and admission is free.
The Japanese Church of Christ Kenshin Taiko Drum Group will kick off the morning’s opening ceremonies with a rousing performance that will be followed by opening remarks from Salt Lake City and County dignitaries.
This year’s featured guest is Taikoza.
The international group from New York features soulful shakuhachi music with powerful and ancestral taiko drums, bamboo flutes, and will be accompanied by a dance ensemble.
Nihon Matsuri, which means Japanese Festival, will also feature traditional tea ceremonies, art, anime, Japanese dance, martial arts demonstrations, more taiko drumming, a kimono fashion show and Japanese-American history exhibits.
A variety of Japanese specialty food, including sushi, teriyaki chicken, beef sukiyaki, manju and much more, will also be available.
Throughout the years, this springtime festival has drawn thousands of people to downtown Salt Lake, evidence that Japanese American history, culture, and traditions are best shared through live performances and onsite experiences.
"The Salt Lake Japanese American community is proud to present its 11th annual Nihon Matsuri spring festival," said Marion Hori, festival spokeswoman. "The festival will have wonderful Japanese food, music, martial arts and dance performances, and is always a wonderful opportunity for families to experience this exciting culture."
Nihon Matsuri was introduced in 2005 by Floyd Mori, National Japanese American Citizens League director, as a way to also pass on the Japanese traditions and culture to younger generations of Japanese Americans and to help them identify with their heritage.
Japanese immigrants and their descendants have been residents of Utah communities since 1884.
In Utah today, individuals of Japanese descent are represented across all income, employment, educational and social categories.
Most Utahns will encounter Japanese descendants in their neighborhoods, in the workplace, in schools, and while shopping, dining, or enjoying leisure activities.
Unfortunately, many Utahns are still unaware that a Japantown, established in approximately 1907 and located in part where the Salt Palace now stands, played an important role for both the Japanese as well as for the larger community.
The proximity of Japantown to Main Street enabled a daily contact and interaction between the Japanese community and the larger community.
The core of Japantown was demolished in 1966 to make way for the building of the Salt Palace displacing many Japanese residents and businesses.
The Japanese Church of Christ, established in 1918 and the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple, circa 1912, located on 100 South between 200 and 300 West, are the remainders of a once vibrant presence of the Japanese community.
These churches continue to serve as religious sanctuaries and as havens for community gatherings and activities.
Unfortunately, the location has also been a target each time a change has occurred in the needs of the Salt Palace that has galvanized the Japanese American community to work towards minimizing potential future encroachments and to reestablish a sense of belonging.
To this end, the Japanese Community Preservation Committee (JCPC) in their efforts to preserve the historical significance of the 100 South block have been successful in having the street designated as "Japantown." The dedication of the honorary designation and the completion of the Japanese garden by the Salt Palace took place during the 2007 Nihon Matsuri.
A century of activities and memories are the legacy of a Japantown that nurtured a sense of place and identity for individuals of Japanese descent and endures for those who value Japanese culture.
For more information and a full schedule of events, visit http://www.nihonmatsuri.com .
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