Maui High School has won the 14th annual Maui Mikoshi Design Contest. The students’ winning cultural artwork will be on display before tens of thousands of residents and visitors at the 23rd annual Honolulu Festival, March 10-12.
“Maui High School has developed a beautifully designed mikoshi that carefully ties together the unique cultures of Japan and Hawaii in a well thought-out way,” said Tsukasa Harufuku, President & CEO of JTB Hawaii. “We applaud the students for creating design elements that strengthen and bridge cultural diversity.”
A mikoshi is a decorative float unique to specific prefectures in Japan that is carried by groups of celebrants during festivals. High schools in Maui County were invited to submit a mikoshi design based on this year’s Honolulu Festival theme: “Cultural Harmony, a Journey to Peace.” In addition to showcasing the mikoshi, the annual Honolulu Festival features a weekend of free arts and cultural displays and entertainment performances.
The students involved in creating the mikoshi design won a trip to Oahu sponsored by the Honolulu Festival Foundation, Hawaiian Airlines, the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui, Outrigger Enterprises Group, and Maui Ocean Center to showcase their winning piece. The mikoshi was created under the guidance of Maui High School teachers Casey Watanabe and Richard Pacheco.
Maui High’s mikoshi will be displayed at the Hawaii Convention Center on Saturday, March 11, and then carried through Waikiki in the Grand Parade on Sunday, March 12. This will be the fourth winning design by Maui High School since the contest began in 2004.
Drawing inspiration from the festival theme, Maui High School’s mikoshi connects both Hawaiian and Japanese culture in an elaborate way, tying in symbols that represent forms of “cultural harmony” and worldwide unity. Some key components of the winning design include a roof design that consists of green ‘tiles’ of Konbu Maki (seaweed herring), which symbolizes a wish for scholarship and culture, with a yellow center, subasu (lotus root), which symbolizes an unobstructed future. The flag on the mikoshi was inspired by the Japanese flag. The bento box design draws influence from the flag through a cluster of roe surrounded by seasoned rice.
The walls represent a diverse mixture of different foods coming together into a bento box to create cultural unity. The koi in particular, combined with a pineapple is strategically placed in the front of the mikoshi symboling the idea of putting ‘cultural unity’ first.
The banner’s background of the Japanese cherry blossoms represents the coming of spring and blossoming life. And the veranda features the Hawaiian eel and the Japanese sea dragon, together representing the theme’s cultural harmony as both were considered sea gods in the respective cultures now dancing together in a unified spiral.
Photo courtesy Anthology Public Relations