355 days later, a festival renewed

IMG_4492The Honolulu Festival, a celebration of all things Asian-and-Pacific-Rim culture, is this weekend. Having attended it for the past three years, I consider it one of those Really Big Deals on the local otaku community schedule, an event where you feel like you’re missing something if you skip it. I take a bunch of pictures and post them here, just to emphasize that fact. Yet while I went last year, all I’ve managed to post since then are a handful of pictures, the promise of more dangled like a fresh, crisp carrot in front of your eyes, just out of reach.

Let’s correct that. Just in time for the 2012 Honolulu Festival, here are highlights from those pictures I shot from the 2011 Honolulu Festival. Better late than not at all, right?

When it comes to the festival, there are neat experiences and displays that you just know you’re going to encounter at the Hawai’i Convention Center, where I’ve hung out for the past few years. Last year, for instance, there was the World’s Largest Aloha Shirt.

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There were also on display various mikoshi, those decorative floats unique to various prefectures of Japan that are hoisted by celebrants during festivals and parades: large ones …

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… more modest-sized, yet still quite elaborate ones (in this case, the Inaho Otona and Inaho Kodomo mikoshi) …

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… a giant pineapple …

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… and the winner of the Maui Mikoshi Design Contest, made by students at Maui High School.

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(This year’s winning float is from students at St. Anthony School in Wailuku; here’s a preview of their design.)

There were also some lovely art pieces on display at the first Hawaii Senior Life Enrichment Association’s art exhibit, a feature that will be returning this year. Here we have Pierce Yumiko’s “Flowers of the Season.”

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And Yoshie Aizawa’s “Four Seasons.”

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It’s also difficult to ignore the various performances from groups from Hawaii and around the Pacific Rim, including dancers …

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… bands …

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… and troupes in distinctively ethnic garb.

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Then there was the Nagaoka Fireworks Show. Sadly, last year’s show was canceled out of respect to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Evidence of support for those victims was all around last year’s festival.

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So all people could see last year were pictures of the show …

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… and a cutaway view of one of the shells used.

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It’s set to go off at 8:30 p.m. Sunday off Waikiki Beach, and if those pictures are any indication, it promises to be spectacular.

In the Ennichi Corner, there were games for the kids, as well as an assortment of masks available for prizes.

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There was also a picture story show that had the children rapt with attention.

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And last but certainly not least, there’s the Anime Corner, hosted by Kawaii Kon. Which means that a giant Hello Kitty can wander the aisles, and no one would consider it strange.

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The corner also wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by a kawaii Kon. Get it? He’s kawaii (cute), and his name is Kon? *crickets chirp*

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University of Hawaii-West Oahu students were holding down the Cosplay Cafe fort.

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As has been tradition, MangaBento was part of the Anime Corner as well.

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The art group brought pencils and paper for sketching, but they also brought a number of props for photos.

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But, well, sometimes props have a tendency to go horribly wrong.

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No, no, not that. I mean, horribly, horribly wrong.

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Yeeeeeeaaaaah. Umm.

Will I be back to run roughshod on the festival again in wings and wielding a bloody blade? We’ll see. But if you want to check out the festival this weekend, there will be events going on from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Hawai’i Convention Center, Ala Moana Center and Waikiki Beach Walk. Kawaii Kon will be doing quite a bit at the Convention Center on Saturday, including a panel on Japanese cultural references in anime (11 a.m.) and various anime screenings (noon-3 p.m.) in room 315. Don’t forget, you can also preregister for the convention, happening in TWO WEEKS YE GODS I AM SO NOT READY FOR THAT YET … umm … *ahem*.

There’s also the Grand Parade down Kalakaua Avenue at 4:30 p.m. Sunday, which will be followed by the aforementioned Nagaoka Fireworks Show. Check out the complete schedule and other information at http://www.honolulufestival.com.