Above and below: Matsuri will feature performances of Japanese music and dance.
SANTA ROSA — Matsuri! Japanese Arts Festival will return to Juilliard Park and the SOFA Arts District of downtown Santa Rosa on Sunday, May 6, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Matsuri! has become one of the signature cultural festivals in the North Bay. The event is organized by Sonoma County Matsuri, whose mission is to offer deep insights into Japanese culture by providing a forum for artisans, artists, and performers of Japanese traditional arts to showcase their talents.
Performances and demonstrations at the free, family-friendly Japanese festival will take place throughout the day in Juilliard Park and will feature taiko drumming, traditional Japanese dance and music, martial arts demonstrations, kyogen theater performance, tea ceremony, and more.
Joining the roster of performers this year will be Kyle Abbott, a shamisen player, builder, and educator from Santa Cruz, and Yuzu, a singer/songwriter from Japan who also plays the shamisen.
Back by popular demand, there will also be a children’s activity booth and mochitsuki —the pounding of sweet rice into cakes. Complementing the festivities and performances will be a variety of exhibitors and vendors featuring Japanese arts, crafts, and food.
Matsuri! Japanese Arts Festival is partially funded through the City of Santa Rosa’s Community Promotions Funds. Additional sponsors include the Julia L. Grant Donor Advised Fund of Community Foundation Sonoma County, Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League, Exchange Bank Sebastopol, Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, and many other supporters.
“This will be our ninth year to hold Matsuri, and we’re thrilled that the festival continues to grow year after year thanks to the generosity and strong support of our sponsors and the entire community. We are honored to have the opportunity to contribute to the cultural richness and diversity of Sonoma County by showcasing authentic Japanese arts, music, theater, and entertainment,” says Henry Kaku, Sonoma County Matsuri board president.
As a prelude to the festival, Sonoma Matsuri will offer a special shakuhachi concert by Grand Master Riley Lee from Australia and local musician Elliot Kallen on Saturday, May 5, at 7 p.m. The performance will be held at the Church of One Tree in Santa Rosa. Tickets are $15 advance sale and $20 at the door.