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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, March 10, 2006

Honolulu Festival celebrates Pacific Rim flair

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer

HONOLULU FESTIVAL

Today through Sunday

Various venues

Free

Festival highlights:

  • Shishi Odori deer dancers

    11:15-11:35 a.m. Saturday, Hawai'i Convention Center

    12:50-1:30 p.m. Sunday, DFS Galleria

    4:30-8 p.m. Sunday, grand parade, Kalakaua Avenue

  • Tachikawa Doshinkai

    4:30-8 p.m. Sunday, grand parade, Kalakaua Avenue

  • Descendance Aboriginal Dancers

    1:35-1:55 p.m. Sunday, convention center

    4:30-8 p.m. Sunday, grand parade, Kalakaua Avenue

  • Tahiti Nui International

    Noon-12:30 p.m. Sunday, convention center

  • Formosa Aboriginal Culture Village

    1-1:20 p.m. Sunday, convention center

  • Sining Kambayoka

    2:25-2:55 p.m. Sunday, convention center

  • Grand Parade

    4:30-8 p.m. Sunday

    From Lewers Street to Waikiki Beach Marriott Hotel, via Kalakaua Avenue

    On the Web:

    www.honolulufestival.com

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    As cultural events go, the Honolulu Festival under way this weekend at various venues is one of the most diverse, taking on a Pacific Rim perspective with participants from Hawai'i, Japan, Tahiti, Australia, the Philippines, Taiwan and more.

    Its plate is laden with variety, too, with 5,000 artisans offering dance, art, songs and numerous ethnic traditions. There are lectures, displays and demonstrations, capped by a colorful parade.

    "This year, our theme is 'Celebrating Pacific Traditions,' as we share cultures from several Pacific Rim countries," said Tatsuo Watanabe, secretary of the Ho-nolulu Festival Foundation and a key events planner for three years.

    The Honolulu Festival name is something of a misnomer: The intent of the celebration launched in 1995 is to promote cross-cultural understanding and economic cooperation between the Hawai'i community and the peoples of the Asia-Pacific region.

    Three venues the Hawai'i Convention Center, DFS Galleria and Ala Moana Center will host an array of activities today through Sunday. The parade finale will be held Sunday through Waikiki.

    Among the spectator-friendly events:

  • Arts and crafts demonstrations and displays at Omatsuri Hiroba (Festival Square), from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the convention center. Artistry will range from origami to Hawaiian quilts, from pressed flowers to embroidery. There will be demos in Japanese ikebana and a tea ceremony, too.

  • The Grand Parade, from 4:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, on Kalakaua Avenue. There are six performance zones along the route at Lewers Street, in front of the Royal Hawaiian shopping Center, in front of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider hotel, at Uluniu Avenue, in front of the Pacific Beach hotel and in front of the Marriott Waikiki Beach hotel.

  • The Descendance Aborigine Dance Group from Sydney, making its second appearance. The Australian ensemble is an offshoot of the Ngaru (Naroo) Aboriginal Dance Company, known for Ngaru ("shake a leg") dance style with origins in Cape York Peninsula, north Queensland.

  • Shishi Odori, a deer dance performance troupe from the Iwate prefecture in Japan. Dancers don costumes that suggest deer, wearing headdresses featuring tall antlers, and they perform to rhythmic drumbeats.

  • Tachikawa Doshinkai, an ensemble from Japan, performing to the cadence of a giant taiko drum, in Sunday's parade.

  • The Sining Kambayoka group from the Philippines, performing a spirited dance that marks the arrival of the first Filipinos to the Islands.

  • The Formosa Aboriginal Cultural Village, a group that represents all of the aboriginal tribes in Taiwan.

  • Genryukai Hirosaki Neputa, a giant 18-foot illuminated float, in Sunday's parade. Japanese folk legends are depicted aboard the float, which moves to the tempo of taiko drums.

  • Tahiti Nui International, a group from Tahiti, provides South Seas syncopation from noon to 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the convention center.

  • Taimane Gardner, a local 'ukulele player, performs from 11:05 to 11:10 p.m. Sunday at the convention center.

  • A variety of music and dance performances, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, at Centerstage, Ala Moana Center.

  • Additional performances, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, at the first-floor stage at the convention center.

  • A hula competition, with Japanese halau participants, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, third floor, convention center.

    With its focus in Waikiki, the Honolulu Festival might seem like it's aimed at visitors. Not so, said Watanabe.

    "We get more local spectators than visitors, especially at the venues," said Watanabe. "Last year, we had SMS Research do a survey, and we counted 8,000 at the convention center, 5,500 at Ala Moana Center, several thousand at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center and 30,000 spectators at our parade."

    Reach Wayne Harada at wharada@honoluluadvertiser.com.