A Japanese cultural celebration

South Valley holds its 57th annual spring festival Haru Matsuri

taiko drummers in san jose taiko performance
AUTHENTIC PERCUSSION San Jose Taiko will perform at the 57th annual Haru Matsuri Festival in Morgan Hill on April 30, 2017. Courtesy San Jose Taiko

By Laura Barreras

Once used to issue military commands and in religious ceremony, Taiko, or the traditional Japanese-style instrument meaning “fat drum,” will take center stage at the 57th annual Haru Matsuri Festival and Taiko Expo in Morgan Hill—one of the South Valley’s oldest cultural events.

The annual Haru Matsuri or spring festival is hosted by the Morgan Hill Buddhist Community Center and brings together performances by San Jose Taiko and Morgan Hill’s Sandoshin Taiko, plus other Bay Area Taiko groups, as well as artisans, cultural and historical displays, martial arts demonstrations and Asian cuisine, including teriyaki, manju, udon and sushi.

The event is designed to promote cultural awareness, giving insight into the heritage of Japanese Americans and their contributions.

This year the Japanese Americans Citizen League will present an award to congressman Mike Honda for his years of community service.

There will also be a display for the community history exhibit on the internment camps. “There will be a beautiful exhibit of carved birds, carved out of wooden egg cartons,” says Paul Yoshikawa, one of the members of the exhibit committee. “These birds were made by [committee member] Isao Kobashi’s mother.”

Yoshikawa says the committee is still looking for items to display, including photos, artifacts, art work and other memorabilia on camp life to copy or put on display.

The Nisei Veterans’ display and the local Japanese community historical displays provide a window into the Japanese American experience in the South Valley.

“Haru Matsuri is a joyous celebration of spring with old and new friends,” says festival chair Howard Watanabe. “The exhibits are reminders to the rest of the community of the many contributions that Japanese Americans have made.”

The 57th Annual Haru Matsuri Festival and Taiko Expo begins at 11am on Sunday, April 30, 2017 at the Morgan Hill Buddhist Community Center at 16450 Murphy Ave. Admission and parking are free. For more information, visit mhbcc.org.

Debra Eskinazi contributed to this article.