Clean and Soba

Valley of the Sun, Land of the Rising Sun -- what’s the difference? Not much this weekend, as Matsuri: A Festival of Japan returns to Heritage & Science Park.

The theme for this year’s edition of the annual fest, a collaboration between Phoenix Parks & Recreation and various area Japanese-American and other groups, is Ni Jyu Go Shu Nen Sai (“Celebrating 25 Years”). It opens with a Mikoshi parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, and continues through 4:30 p.m. (same hours Sunday) with several stages offering taiko -- cool Japanese group drumming -- folk dancing, fashion shows, martial arts demonstrations, an anime costume contest, even karaoke.

But let’s face it, for many of us, the biggest attraction at Matsuri will be the food. For the quarter-century anniversary, the fest will showcase a Japanese staple: Noodle-makers from Phoenix’s sister city Himeji will demonstrate the crafting of soba, those yummy noodles made from buckwheat or wheat flour.

Sat., Feb. 21, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 22, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., 2009
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M.V. Moorhead
Contact: M.V. Moorhead