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Houston Maritime Museum
Harris County
15th Annual Houston Japan Festival
News Release
Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kaminari Taiko Drummers to entertain at the 15th Annual Japan Festival, Hermann Park, April 5 & 6. Houston – Thousands of Houstonians are expected to flock to Hermann Park to revel in all things Japanese at the 15th Annual Houston Japan Festival on Saturday and Sunday, April 5 and 6.

 

Presented by the Japan-America Society of Houston with the support of the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department and the Japanese Business Association of Houston, the Japan Festival will be staged at the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.  Admission is free.

 

A new goal of the festival this year is to build community support for renovating and improving the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park.  The proceeds of this non-profit event will be used to that end.

 

The area in and around the Japanese Garden will be transformed into a Japanese village decorated with colorful flags, windsocks, and paper lanterns.  Two stages will showcase a rich variety of Japanese music, dance and martial arts.  Area restaurants and caterers will serve authentic Japanese cuisine and more.  Artists, including specialists in the trendy anime style, will offer their work, alongside displays and products from regional businesses and organizations

 

Festival guests will enjoy a range of unique and fun cultural activities, including:              

*Ikebana flower arranging 
*Taiko drummers
*Bonsai displays  
*Anime illustrations
  
*Sushi
*Traditional tea demonstrations
*Martial arts demonstrations
*Children’s games – Origami, Yo-Yo, Ring 
 Toss

Guest Appearances

Highlighting the festival will be guest performers from Japan.  Three noted Tsugaru shamisen players will entertain on the three-stringed instruments with a distinctive sound.  Named for the city in northern Japan, Tsugaru shamisen is a lively, emotional version of traditional music that is enjoying a popular rebirth.  With no written music, improvisation is the rule.

 

Also featured is Wakanakai, famed performers of the Taisho-Koto from Houston’s sister-city of Chiba.  Taisho-Koto is a stringed instrument played by a keyboard inspired by the typewriter.  Wakanakai’s repertoire extends from the Beatles through American folk songs to Japanese classics.

 

Performing for the first time this year is the local group Ryufuu—Okinawan Wind--that will present costumes, singing and folk dances totally unique to the island of Okinawa. The Woodlands High School Yosakoi Soran Dance Group returns to perform this popular and lively style of Japanese street dancing with traditional and modern elements.

 

Also appearing is the ever-popular Kaminari Taiko of Houston. The compelling percussive rhythms of the drums and high energy movements add up to a riveting performance that the audience hears, sees, and feels. Kaminari Taiko performs frequently in and around Houston, and recently headlined a Nissan factory opening in Mississippi.

 

A special appearance will be made by the young star of the acclaimed film, The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise. Shin Koyamada is accomplished in Karate, Tae Kwon Do and Kung Fu as well as Kyudo (Japanese archery) and horseback riding.

 

Parking is limited at HermannPark. Japan Festival strongly encourages all guests to take METRORail, using the “Hermann Park/Rice U” stop.  For more information, including METRO parking, please visit www.ridemetro.org or call 713-635-4000.

 

The Japan Festival is funded in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance.  For more information about the Festival, please visit www.jashouston.org .

   

The Japan Society of Houston (JASH) is a non-profit organization incorporated in 1968 to provide a non-political forum for discussion of issues between the United States and Japan and to promote greater cultural understanding between the people of both countries.  The mission of JASH is to provide programs which increase the knowledge and understanding of Japan by Americans, and to encourage communication between the Japanese and Americans. 




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