Japan House festival shares Japanese culture

Sieran Chiba, a Japanese calligrapher, poses next to her work, which she created in response to the music of Ho Etsu Taiko, a taiko drum group, at the 2016 Matsuri Festival at Japan House. This year’s festival is Aug. 27. Photo by Greg Smith

AUG 17, 2017 8:45 AM BY   JODI HECKEL  | ARTS AND HUMANITIES EDITOR  | 217-300-2751

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — In just two years, the Matsuri Festival hosted by Japan House has become the organization’s biggest event, drawing 4,000 people last year.

Japan House is preparing for its third Matsuri Festival, to be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Aug. 27 on the grounds of the Arboretum and Japan House, 2000 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.

Matsuri is a kickoff for the new school year, a welcome for international students and a way for the community to learn more about Japanese culture.

A boy confronts a dragon head during a performance by Masaji Terasawa, known as “The Candyman.”

Matsuri festival. courtesy of UI Japan House. Photo by Charles Hannon
“Matsuri really is wonderful for us because it allows us to reach out to the student community and the general community. It’s got a wonderful, welcoming feeling,”

said Cynthia Voelkl, the assistant director of Japan House. “We feel it’s really important because it says so much about sharing culture.”

The popular Ho Etsu Taiko, a Chicago-based taiko drum group that has been at the festival each year, will be back this year to give two performances, including a finale with fireworks.

Also returning to this year’s festival is Masaji Terasawa, known as “The Candyman.” Terasawa makes candy sculptures from spun sugar as a form of street theater.

Other performers include Jasmine Fields, a Chinese music group, and several martial arts groups.

The festival will also feature cosplay (dressing in costume as a character), yukata (summer kimono) dressing, arts and crafts vendors, calligraphy tattoos and a photo booth. Inside Japan House, visitors can find bonsai and ikebana (flower arranging) demonstrations, tea ceremonies and air conditioning.

Matsuri festival. courtesy of UI Japan House. Food vendors at the festival will offer food with an Asian twist. Last year, Michael’s Catering cooked chicken yakitori.
Photo by Charles Hannon

Local food vendors will offer food with an Asian twist. The Cracked food truck will have a smoked chorizo taco with kimchi, and Japan House interns will serve iced sweet matcha tea at their Matcha Cafe.

Food and drink tickets can be purchased online at go.illinois.edu/japanhousetickets.

Japan House is looking for more volunteers to help with the event. To sign up to volunteer, go to go.illinois.edu/matsurivolunteer.

Japan House festival shares Japanese culture

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Japan House festival shares Japanese culture
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Japan House festival shares Japanese culture
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Japan House is preparing for its third Matsuri Festival, to be held from 3 to 8 p.m. Aug. 27 on the grounds of the Arboretum and Japan House, 2000 S. Lincoln Ave., Urbana.