Above and below: Scenes from last year’s Matsuri!

SANTA ROSA — Matsuri! Japanese Arts Festival will return to Juilliard Park and the SOFA Arts District of downtown Santa Rosa on Sunday, May 7, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Celebrating its eighth year, 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 Bay Area artisans, artists, and performers of Japanese traditional arts to showcase their talents.

Performances and demonstrations at the admission-free Japanese festival will take place throughout the day in Juilliard Park, 227 Santa Rosa Plaza, and will feature taiko drumming, traditional dance and music, martial arts, noh theater performance, tea ceremony, and more. Back by popular demand, there will also be a children’s activity booth and mochitsuki — the pounding of sweet rice into cakes using a wooden mallet.

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 Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco, Julia L. Grant Donor Advised Fund of Community Foundation Sonoma County, Sonoma County Japanese American Citizens League, Japan Foundation Los Angeles and many other supporters.

All proceeds from the raffle held at the event will go to the Matsuri Scholarship Fund, which supports individuals and organizations in Sonoma County who study or teach Japanese culture in the community.

“The festival continues to grow each year, thanks to the 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 County Matsuri will offer a special evening concert, “Tilted Bells Ringing in an Empty Sky,” by Grand Master Riley Koho Lee and Elliot Kallen, highly acclaimed shakuhachi players, on Saturday, May 6, at 7 p.m. at the Church of One Tree in Santa Rosa. Tickets are $15 advance sale and $20 at the door.

For more information about Matsuri! Japanese Arts Festival and the pre festival concert, visit www.sonomamatsuri.com or www.facebook.com/sonomamatsuri/, or email info@sonomamatsuri.com.

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