Saku: Each year, the Maui Matsuri planning committee selects a Japanese kanji character to embody its events’ activities. This year, the kanji selected is “saku,” which means “to bloom” or “to blossom.” The theme is reflected in our commemorative t-shirt designed by Maui-born artist Jonathan Clark. Designed to have a hand-made quality, Jonathan started the process of creating the print by carving a woodblock with images of sakura (cherry) blossoms. He then scanned and altered the image digitally to reference the unfolding of sakura as it blooms while retaining the creased look of folded origami paper.

Jonathan’s design and this year’s kanji theme perfectly embody the blossoming of the Japanese culture here on Maui – initiated by the seeds planted by the brave immigrants who made Maui their home and nurtured by their children and surrounding communities. We hope you join us in celebrating all that has helped Japanese Culture bloom here on Maui!  


Kizuna: The planning group behind the state’s Gannenmono activities is a coalition of over 20 organizations known as the Kizuna Group. Meaning “bond,” the committee chose the Japanese word “kizuna” to symbolize the many connections being celebrated during this auspicious anniversary. The links between past and present, the camaraderie felt between islands, and the connection between communities in Hawaii and Japan are all rejoiced in the festivities occurring throughout the year. 



“Gaman” (Quiet Endurance) means the acceptance of and ability to deal with life's adversities. It is maintaining one's dignity and honor with diligence and perserverance

In the early 1990's, young Japanese women in their teens left their homes and families and traveled across the Pacific Ocean to be married to strangers only known to them by photos. These Picture Brides suffered in silence being married to strangers, living in a new land and working on the sugar plantations. They persevered all the harsh conditions to make better lives for themselves and their families


“Kansha,” which translates to gratitude. The theme of Kansha is very relevant for Maui Matsuri, whose tagline is “kodomo no tame ni,” or “for the sake of the children.” It is with deep gratitude that we reflect on the lessons our families and community have passed down to us, and it is with great appreciation for the past that we perpetuate our culture for future generations.

One of the largest outpourings of “Kansha”, or gratitude, in Japanese culture occurs at the Obon festival. Obon is a Buddhist tradition which celebrates our loved ones who have since passed away. Friday night’s Let’s Dance event will delve into the tradition of Obon with guest instructor PJ Hirabayashi, who will teach us her original bon dance creation: “Ei Ja Nai Ka.”

"On" or debt of gratitude. Japanese immigrants to the United States also brought along their values. Among these values is one that we are honoring at this year’s Maui Matsuri: ".

There are many in the community to whom we are indebted, from the first Japanese immigrants to the islands who tirelessly labored away in plantations, to our parents and grandparents who sacrificed of themselves so that we might have better lives.

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