Japan Festival provides a taste of Japanese culture to Utah

Apr 28, 2023, 8:00 PM

From left, Hiroshi Tanaka, Kenny Endo, world-renowned Taiko Drummer, Eien Hunter and Joy Tanaka per...

From left, Hiroshi Tanaka, Kenny Endo, world-renowned Taiko Drummer, Eien Hunter and Joy Tanaka perform and present a free public workshop on Taiko during a previous Japan Festival. The 18th annual Japan Festival will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown at 100 S. between 200 W. and 300 W. The festival is from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — The 18th annual Nihon Matsuri or Japan Festival is scheduled for Saturday in Salt Lake City. And it’s a perfect opportunity for those wanting to get outdoors and enjoy the warm weather.

The event will be held in downtown on 100 South between 200 and 300 West right near Vivint Arena. The location is significant, according to Floyd Mori, chairman of the festival.

“The area between, basically, almost Main Street and 300 West on 100 South was Japan Town,” he said. “The Salt Palace, today, covers the major part of what used to be Japan Town.”

Mori says Japan Town dates back to the early 1900s. 

“The Japanese Christian Church, for example, was established 100 years ago in 1922,” he said. “So before that, commercial establishments began, restaurants, and markets they were on 100 South and expanded. Barbershops, a lot of different commercial establishments came there, and it became known as Japan Town for Salt Lake City.”

Mori says the Japanese Christian Church along with a Buddhist Temple are the only two remaining buildings from the original Japan Town.  

The festival started in 2005 and has been held every year since, except for a brief interruption due to the pandemic.

Japan Festival provides Japanese cultural to Utahns

Mori says the festival brings a taste of Japan to the Beehive State.

“The festival is to give Utah a taste of Japanese culture,” he said. “And we do that through food booths, cultural booths. We have exhibits, particularly of the Japanese-American history of Utah, that will be in the Buddist church.”

Additionally, he says there will be two stages of entertainment. 

The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Mark Jones contributed to this article.

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Japan Festival provides a taste of Japanese culture to Utah