Ozark Outdoors

Japanese Fall Festival celebrates cultural ties between sister cities

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The Taiko Jumpers from St. Louis will be among the many authentic Japanese-style performers at the Sister Cities Japanese Fall Festival on Sept. 8-10 in the 30-year-old Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden.

Once each year, the tranquility of the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden turns into a cultural celebration as the Springfield Sister Cities Association, Friends of the Garden and the Springfield Regional Arts Council present the 22nd Japanese Fall Festival, Friday through Sunday, Sept. 8-10.

The festival will begin at 5 p.m. Friday, followed by an evening stroll featuring hundreds of torches and candles.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, Shoji Tabuchi returns for an evening outdoor concert. He will be joined throughout the festival by other musicians and dancers, including Karin Amano, a Japanese storyteller and the popular St. Louis dance troupe, Osuwa Taiko, will each perform all three days.

The cultural tent will offer T-shirts and souvenirs and the food court will be offering Asian-style cuisine all thee days. Admission is $7 for adults on Friday, ($3 each day for children 12 and under); $10 for adults on Saturday, and $7 for adults on Sunday.

All proceeds benefit the SSCA’s “Peace Through People” programs.

A detailed schedule of events is available at PeaceThroughPeople.org, the web site of the Springfield Sister Cities Association. A printed schedule will be available at the festival.

The three-day event is an important fund-raiser to help maintain one of the oldest gardens in Nathanael Greene Park (now joined as one seamless park with Close Memorial Gardens known as the Springfield Botanical Gardens). Friends of the Garden volunteers will be on hand to introduce ourselves to visitors. If you would like to volunteer for this event, call FOG 417-881-1515, or SSCA at 417-864-1191.

The new Peace Through People Pavilion was a joint project by the two organizations.

This year’s festival features an amazing lineup of returning international and local performers, including Seiran Chiba, a large-scale calligrapher from Fukushima, Japan.

Fresh from their August trip to perform in Japan, Uke 66, a student ukulele ensemble from Kickapoo High School, will perform at 5 p.m. Friday and again at 1 p.m. on Sunday.

Other performers include a familar visitor, Hiroshi Tada (top-spinner), Kizuna folk dancers; (Japan/America Friendship Club), Springfield Aikido, Tracy’s Karate, and the Springfield Cosplay Council.

Origami, calligraphy and gyo-taku (fish painting) will be demonstrated by visiting artists.

Children’s activities will be offered by the Kickapoo High School language classes from 5-7 pm. Friday; 11-7 on Saturday, and 11-4 on Sunday. Some groups will be presenting children’s workshops.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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