Japanese food and friendship festival returns to area

Blossoming fruit trees mean spring and that means Haru
Matsuri.
Haru Matsuri is the Japanese food, art, friendship and Taiko
drumming festival that will take place this year on Sunday, April 3
in Morgan Hill.
Blossoming fruit trees mean spring and that means Haru Matsuri.

Haru Matsuri is the Japanese food, art, friendship and Taiko drumming festival that will take place this year on Sunday, April 3 in Morgan Hill.

The local Japanese community brought the traditional religious festival to the area 45 years ago. Haru Matsuri is a term used in the Shinto religion to celebrate the beginning of the spring planting season and to pray for an abundant harvest, activities undertaken by most religions and societies around the world.

This year the San Jose Taiko Group, which first joined up with the festival nine years ago, will co-sponsor Haru Matsuri, along with the Morgan Hill Buddhist Community Center.

The festival will include a day of cultural and arts displays including Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arranging, a farmer’s market, traditional Minyo and Koto music and a raffle.

After some tough financial times, the festival is hoping for a good return this year.

Two years ago county health inspectors shut down the festival’s entire food service – a major moneymaker – because of inadequate refrigeration. No one became ill but few people could enjoy the bento lunches or teriyaki.

The festival lost about $25,000 in 2003 – most of its expected income.

In 2004, with refrigeration beefed up and the health department satisfied, food sales went more smoothly but the festival’s bottom line still suffered.

This year, Nob Hill Foods will donate a commercial refrigerator/freezer to the newsroom and community center members will work on its permanent installation, just in time for the mass production of chicken and beef teriyaki, sushi, manju and more.

Also on hand will be an exhibit of artifacts and photographs about the service of the 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service in World War II, which was a regiment composed entirely of Japanese-Americans. The festival has included the exhibit each year since 2002.

Co-chairs for the 2005 festival are Ron Mayeda and Howard Watanabe.

The 45th Annual Morgan Hill Haru Matsuri, at the Morgan Hill Buddhist Community Center, 16450 Murphy Ave. in Morgan Hill will take place on April 3 at 10:30am. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit www.mhbcc.org/hmatsuri.

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