The annual Shinju Matsuri – Japanese for “Festival of the Pearl” – is a kaleidoscope of colour and culture that celebrates Japanese, Chinese, Malaysian and Aboriginal cultures which all played a role in shaping Broome during its the prosperous pearling days.
Now in it’s 46th year, Shinju Matsuri is a nine-day festival with over 20 events, which starts with the ceremonial waking of Sammy the Chinese Dragon.
Highlights include the Floating Lantern Matsuri, the Sunset Long Table Dinner set on the sand on Cable Beach, Willie Creek Pearl Harvest, art exhibitions and awards, a float parade, film, music, dance, family and community events, food and a Festival Finale party.
Shinju Matsuri President Chris Maher says there are many facets to the festival that appeal to locals and visitors alike.
“While Shinju Matsuri draws inspiration from celebrations of the Chinese, Japanese and Malay communities, those cultures along with many others and in particular Aboriginal people have greatly contributed to shape what Broome is today. Shinju Matsuri is the ultimate Broome celebration of those cultures,” Maher said.
The lanterns with messages ready for release at the Floating Lantern Matsuri
“Last year we introduced some new elements to Shinju Matsuri – the hugely popular Sunset Long Table Dinner on Cable Beach and the moving Floating Lantern Matsuri which was quite emotional.”
The Floating Lantern Matsuri saw hundreds of people write special personal messages on candle-lit lanterns before releasing them as a symbol of remembrance.
After their release the lanterns are marshalled to a collection area for recycling. Beach sweeps take place each morning during the festival to ensure all rubbish is collected and recycled.
The Sunset Long Table Dinner will be held on Saturday September 17, 2016 on the sand of Cable Beach as the sun sinks behind the Indian Ocean. A spectacular multi-course dinner will be prepared by 2010 Masterchef winner Adam Liaw.
Liaw has carved a name for himself in the media hosting his own television series Destination Flavour and authoring four cookbooks and has become known for creating Asian inspired dishes. He says he is looking forward to using the fresh produce of Australia’s North West in the menu.
“The Sunset Long Table would have to be one of the best dinners on the Australian food calendar. Incredible food as the sun goes down in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet. It’s an unforgettable experience and one I’m immensely proud to be a part of this year,” Liaw says.
The spectacular colours of Broome
The Sunset Long Table Dinner was introduced to the long-running Shinju Matsuri festival last year and in just one year has proven to be a true event highlight.
“The Sunset Long Table Dinner is truly unique and absolutely special – set up on the sand on Cable Beach, watching a magnificent Broome sunset – the setting doesn’t get any better. It’s almost sold out, so if anyone is thinking of going, I’d encourage them to secure tickets now,” Maher says.
Tickets for the Sunset Long Table Dinner cost $250 and include a multi-course meal, beverages and entertainment.
“What makes Shinju Matsuri so special is its wide reaching appeal – we have artists from Perth and beyond exhibiting, the Chinese community who’ll wake Sammy the Dragon and perform in the opening ceremony, sporting contests, family events and of course pearl experiences,” Maher says.