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The 28th Annual Matsuri Festival takes over Heritage & Science Park in Downtown Phoenix on Saturday and Sunday, February 25 & 26, 2012.  This two-day celebration features colorful displays of authentic Japanese art, crafts, and entertainment.  Traditional Japanese food and merchandise will be on sale.

For 2012, the festival committee chose the theme Daruma; a hollow, round Japanese traditional doll modeled after Bodihdharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. 

These dolls are typically red, depicting a bearded man named Dharma.  These dolls may vary in color and design depending on the region in which the artist resides.  It is a toy, but it is rich in symbolism and looked upon as good luck to the Japanese.  These dolls symbolize perseverance and good fortune.  A modern, motivational Buddhist teacher may use it alongside goal setting and achieving success.

ALSO NEW!  Sakura: The Cherry Blossom Tree ~ Upon special request by the Japanese Consulate, The Matsuri 2012 Committee has happily added this element:  The 100th year celebration of the Cherry Blossom (donated to Washington from Japan) to the Festival.

Flowering cherry trees have been symbols of Japan’s friendship to the people of America for 100 years.

In 1912, over 3,000 cherry trees were gifted from the City of Tokyo to the City of Washington, D.C. as a symbol of lasting friendship from the people of Japan. Since that time, Japanese organizations have made gifts of cherry trees to America to commemorate significant milestones in the relationship between Japan and the United States.

In Southern California, there are many places where you can see flowering cherry trees which were planted by Japanese individuals or Japan-related organizations.

In 2012 there will be twelve cherry blossom festivals in Southern California. There will be more events in 2012 commemorating the centennial.

ENTERTAINMENT SCHEDULE (TENTATIVE, Stay posted for entertainment updates.)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Plaza Stage

9:45 a.m.   Assemble for the Mikoshi Procession

10:00 a.m.  Procession Begins

10:35 a.m.  Kyo Rei Taiko Kai (Japanese Drums) – Arizona Buddhist Temple

10:45 a.m.  Opening Ceremony: City of Phoenix; Consul General of Japan, Los Angeles; Himeji Sister City; Sakura Dance – Mari Kaneta Suzuyuki Kai – Nihon Buyo (Japanese Dance)

11:30 a.m.  Ondo (Japanese Folk Dance) – Arizona Buddhist Temple

12:00 p.m. Taiko Project (Japanese Drums)

12:30 p.m.  Sunny Seki, Author/Illustrator

12:45 p.m.  Karaoke (Japanese Folk Singing)

1:15 p.m.  Kimono Fashion Show

1:45 p.m.  Kishin Daiko – Kotobuki Jishi (Japanese Lion Dance)

2:15 p.m.  Mari Kaneta Suzuyuki Kai – Nihon Buyo (Japanese Classical Dance)

3:45 p.m.  Kokin Gumi & Friends – Music with Traditional Japanese Instruments

4:45 p.m. (Japanese Friendship Garden play)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Plaza Stage

10:30 a.m.  Kyo Reir Taiko Kai (Japanese Drums) – Arizona Buddhist Temple

11:00 a.m.  Sakura Dance – Mari Kaneta Suzuyuki Kai – Nihon Buyo (Japanese Dance)

11:15 Kinshin Daiko – Kotobuki Jishi (Japanese Lion Dance)

11:45 Kokin Gumi & Friends – Music with Traditional Japanese Instruments

12:45 p.m. Taiko Project (Japanese Drums)

1:15 p.m.  Karaoke (Japanese Folk Singing)

1:45 p.m.  Ondo (Japanese Folk Dance) – Arizona Buddhist Temple

2:15 p.m.  Sunny Seki, Author/Illustrator

2:30 p.m.  Gassho Bu (Children’s Choir) – Arizona Gakuen School

2:45 p.m.  Mari Kaneta Suzuyuki Kai – Nihon Buyo (Japanese Classical Dance)

4:15 p.m.  (Japanese Friendship Garden play)

2012 Taiko Entertainment

The following Japanese Taiko Drumming groups and entertainers will be performing on the ASU Stage at Heritage Square and Science Center from 10:30 am – 5:00 pm:

Fushicho Daiko*Phoenix Drummers

All Arizona Taiko Team

Phoenix Taiko Kai

Saboten Taiko

Aozora

Kemushi

Ken Koshio, a native Japanese singer & song writer, Taiko player and Japanese folk artist.

Washington Elementary Taka Taiko Drummers

Faith North Montessori Taiko

Senators Taiko

SGI Taiko

Awa Odori Dancers from Los Angeles, CA

Hands On Taiko ~ you know you want to try it!

Martial Artists:

Araki Ryu Iaido, Kenshin Dojo
Arizona Aikido
Arizona Karate Association
Arizona Kyudo Kai and University of Arizona Kyudo Club
Arizona Shotokan Association
Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu
Phoenix Kendo Kai
Southwest Dojo

Monroe Street Stage Performers:

Araki Ryu Iaido, Kenshin Dojo
Arizona Aikido
Arizona Karate Association
Arizona Kyudo Kai and University of Arizona Kyudo Club
Arizona Shotokan Association
Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu
Kitsune Robot 
Phoenix Kendo Kai
Southwest Dojo
Toybox 

Highlights: Japanese Exhibits, Demonstrations, Arts and Crafts, Children’s Activities, Bonsai Displays, Japanese Food and Entertainment.

If You Go

When: Saturday and Sunday, February 25 & 26, 2012 from 10:00 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Where: Heritage and Science Park, 115 North 6th Street Phoenix, AZ (7th Street and Monroe, Downtown Phoenix)

Cost: FREE

More details


  • Attended on Saturday, the festival was marvelous, absolutely loved the colorful costumes. I would have to say however, the best part was the Japanese drums, and of course the food. Glad to see everyone interested in their culture. Can’t wait til next year!