The Pan-Pacific Ho‘olaule‘a – Matsuri Goes Mainstream

During the 1970’s, the number of travelers from Japan to the Hawaiian Islands increased dramatically. In 1980, a small group of local Oahu residents, wishing to ensure that the increased interaction between the two cultures would be educational and enjoyable, hosted the first Matsuri.

In Hawaii, Matsuri (a Japanese word meaning festival) was viewed as a way to enrich the lives of both the audience and participating artists, with a rewarding participatory experience in traditional Japanese culture. Matsuri in Hawaii provided visiting participants from Japan an opportunity to share their art, music, crafts, foods, and traditions with others in the stellar setting of world-famous Waikiki.

Through Matsuri, Hawaii residents and visitors gained a deeper appreciation of Japanese history, heritage, and cultural sensibilities.

By showcasing the ancient arts, dance, crafts, and traditional folk music, and bringing world respected Japanese performers to Hawaii, Matsuri acted as a bridge between cultures as visitors and residents participated in block parties, a parade, and the popular bon dance. In 1998, the Oahu celebration of Matsuri expanded to include all of the multiple cultures that make up Hawaii’s rich melting pot and was renamed the Pan-Pacific Ho’olaule’a.

Pan-Pacific Ho‘olaule‘a

Today, the Pan-Pacific Ho‘olaule‘a (A festival or gathering to preserve and promote harmonious relationships) a joyous “super-sized” celebration of friendship and goodwill, invites the people of Hawaii and its many visitors from around the globe, to gather in a gala celebration of multi-cultural diversity. Still known locally as Matsuri, the Pan-Pacific Ho’olaule’a, has grown from a small neighborhood event into an international festival highlighting a broad array of people, cultures, and talents from throughout the Pacific Rim.

At the Pan-Pacific Ho’olaule’a, music and laughter fill the air. Multiple entertainment stages feature cultural performances such as Korean Dance, Japanese Taiko drums, Hula, Hawaiian string guitar artists, and more. Each year the festival showcases a popular headlining entertainer from Hawaii!

Held annually in mid-June on the beach in Waikiki, the festival is the largest multi-cultural event of its kind in Hawaii and one of the premier cultural celebrations worldwide. Kalakauna Avenue is temporarily closed down to vehicle traffic from Lewers Street to Uluniu Avenue to accommodate the impressive block party.

Fabulous Food

Dozens of food vendors offer scrumptious presentations of taste treats from Hawaii, Thailand, Japan, and China. Favorites are Hawaiian roast pork, poi, and shaved ice.

Arts And Crafts

Island artists, crafters, and vendors sell unique items reflecting the diversity of the islands.

Pan-Pacific Hula Festival

Happening simultaneously at the Hula Mound located on Kuhio Beach near the Diamond Head end of the Ho’olaule’a, the Pan-Pacific Hula Festival draws visitors from around the world. Held under a spectacular banyan tree, just steps from Waikiki Beach, the Pan-Pacific Hula Festivals is a much-anticipated event or both spectators and dancers alike.

The ancient Hawaiian fine art of hula has gained immense popularity in many countries, especially Japan where there are more than 200,000 dedicated practitioners of the traditional Hawaiian dance. Hawaii, the birthplace of hula, beckons groups who practice all year long or a chance to compete and dance hula in Hawaii.