by Sean Hull
The 18th annual Japan Festival took place in the Carlsen Center this past Saturday, October 3. People from all over the greater Kansas City area convened on the center for a day full of Japanese culture, ranging from mock oriental bazaars to samurai sword demonstrations.
The festival was originally held at UMKC, until renovations forced the Heart of America Japan-America Society to move the festival to JCCC.
Shopping, gaming rooms, Japanese candy shops and other wares filled the second and third floors of the CC, while various shows were performed in the concert halls on the ground floor. Anime culture was represented heavily at the festival and proved to be a major attraction, bringing many young people to the festival.
“Well, ever since I was little, I got into anime, so I loved the anime, the manga and all that. But I also love the traditions they have. They are really really cool, and really cool to study,” said Ashlynn Johnson, who said she goes by her cosplay name, Rye D’ammu. She has attended the Japan festival every year, beginning when she was eight years old.
The Japan Festival is entirely volunteer-driven. Volunteers come from all over the greater Kansas City area for an opportunity to get involved with the Japanese festival.
Annette Jardon, a student from the Japanese Student Association at the University of Kansas, volunteers to learn more about Japanese culture.
“I really enjoy the Japanese culture, and the Japanese language is really different from English and the American culture,” said Jardon. “So I feel like the more you learn about it, you’re learning Japanese culture of course, but it’s also reflecting back on American culture. It’s the differences. You can learn about both [cultures], which is really interesting.”
This year she volunteered at the Japanese Bazaar, where locals sold authentic Japanese wares.
“… We get to see a whole lot of people, which is always fun, and seeing people be like ‘I don’t know what this is for’ and trying to figure it out is always entertaining,” said Jardon.
In addition to the shows and shops that were available to the public, cultural side attractions were present. There was a table dedicated to the art of bonsai, pruning small trees grown in pots to prevent them from reaching their full size. Japanese exchange students walked the halls practicing omikuji, Japanese fortune-telling. For a dollar, you were allowed to shake a hexagonal box until a wooden stick with a number on it fell out. They would then receive a slip of paper with the corresponding number that had your fortune written on it.
The Japan Festival provides a look into Japanese culture and life to the community as well as an outlet for the local Japanese community to share their culture. It is sure to remain a facet of the college for many years to come.
For updates on the 2016 festival, visit the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival’s website.
Contributions by E.J. Wood, Staff Photographer; Pete Schulte, Editor-in-Chief; JCAV-TV: Heather Foley, Executive Producer; T.J. Kimbrough-French, Camera; Anthony Graham, Camera; Seth Elliott, Editor; Caleb Wayne, Graphics.