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Japanese Fall Festival Brings Kendama Performers and Magic Storyteller to Springfield

SPRINGFIELD – Springfield Sister Cities Association, in partnership with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board, proudly presents the 24th annual Japanese Fall Festival on Friday-Sunday, September 6-8, 2019, in the beautiful Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden located within the extraordinary Springfield Botanical Gardens at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield, Mo.

Festival hours are 5 p.m.-10 p.m. on Friday, September 7; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. on Saturday, September 8; and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, September 9.

The Japanese Fall Festival is a celebration of authentic Japanese culture highlighting Springfield’s 33-year-old sister city relationship with Isesaki, Japan. Each year, a delegation of Isesaki citizens travels to Springfield to contribute to the festival through demonstrations and interactions with attendees.

In response, Springfield sends a local group to perform at Isesaki’s city festival each year. These groups make an appearance at the Japanese Fall Festival: Uke 66 recently performed in Isesaki and The Shandies perform in Isesaki in August of 2019.

Zoomadanke of Tokyo, Japan, headlines the festival with their lively kendama performances. The internationally-acclaimed duo blends their mastery of kendama, a traditional Japanese cup and ball toy, with dance and music to create a pioneering style of performance.

Yasu Ishida, storyteller and magician from Ube, Japan, also headlines the festival. Ishida combines traditional Japanese theatre, music, origami, magic, and storytelling to bring the enchanting land of Japan to his audiences.

Favorite Japanese performers returning to the festival include St. Louis Osuwa Taiko, ensemble drummers; Seiran Chiba, large-scale calligrapher; Mr. Hiroshi Tada, top spinner; and Tracy’s Kenpo Karate Studios of Southwest Missouri, martial arts demonstrators.

Kizuna, Springfield’s Japan America Friendship Club, also returns to the festival to perform traditional Japanese exercises and facilitate Japanese activities like yukata taiken (cotton kimono dress up) and a chadokoro (tea café).

The festival offers many cultural opportunities geared toward children including an activity area featuring traditional Japanese games and crafts led by Japanese language students from Kickapoo High School and gyotaku (fish printing) led by the Springfield Regional Arts Council.

In addition to numerous vendor and artisan booths featuring wares authentic to Japanese culture, guests will enjoy the Nihon bunka taiken tent (Japanese culture experience tent), the omiyage and dagashi tent (souvenirs and snacks tent), and concessions.

Beginning at dusk on Friday and Saturday, September 6 and 7, hundreds of torches light the garden pathways and soft Japanese music fills the air to create a romantic strolling atmosphere.

Springfield Cosplay closes the festival at 5 p.m. on Sunday, September 8 with a cosplay showcase (costume role play contest). Participants typically portray characters from Japanese pop culture. All are invited to participate. Register prior to the festival by e-mailing or register during the festival at the Springfield Cosplay booth.

Springfield Sister Cities Association donates half of the Japanese Fall Festival’s admission proceeds to the maintenance and development of the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. The remaining proceeds benefit cultural programs which further Springfield Sister Cities Association’s mission of “Peace through People.”

Support for the Japanese Fall Festival is provided by Friends of the Garden, City of Springfield, Springfield Public Schools, Chase, Ozarks Coca-Cola, and Renewal by Andersen. 

For more information regarding the Japanese Fall Festival or Springfield Sister Cities Association, please visit or call 417-874-2962.