Celebrate the beginning of fall at the 17th annual Japanese Fall Festival this weekend September 7-9, 2012 in the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Ave.

This year’s features include Shi-Shi-Mai (Lion Dance) performances, a professional Japanese storyteller, the Osuwa Taiko Drummers, Japanese top spinning, martial arts, tea ceremony, a kimono fashion show, Japanese short movies, arts and crafts, and many more activities and performances.

Japanese Fall Festival 2012 poster

The three-day festival runs from 5:30 – 10 p.m., Friday night; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday; and 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Sunday. Admission is $7/adult; $5/ kids 3-12; toddlers age 2 and younger are free. Weekend passes may be purchased at the gate for $10/adult; $7/kids.

This year’s highlights include:

  • Friday night opening ceremonies with a children’s gathering of Kindergarten-through-fifth grade elementary students, who were selected as ambassadors to represent their classes from every Springfield public elementary school;
  • Shi-Shi Mai (Lion Dance), from the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York– more at japanesefolkdance.org
  • Japanese Storyteller Kuniko Yamamoto – she does magic, she tells stories! See more at kunikotheater.com
  • Osuwa Taiko Drummers, from St. Louis – see more about this dynamic group at stltaiko.org
  • Traditional Japanese top spinner Hiroshi Tada, from St. Louis – a festival favorite every year!
  • Local martial artists groups, including sword demonstrations
  • Local musical group The Denzil and Jonathan Band, who will travel to Springfield sister city Isesaki, Japan in August
  • Hands-on kids activities from the Kickapoo High School Japanese Club, including chop sticks instruction, face painting, origami, Japanese-style yo-yos
Japanese Lion Dance from the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of N.Y. Inc.

Daily tea ceremonies will be performed in the authentic in Japanese Tea House by the lake (register early – this gets booked up fast!)  Romantic and meditative Candlelight Strolls after dark in the garden.  Local performers, authentic Japanese food, regional art, crafts, and merchants fill the garden paths.

The Springfield Sister Cities Association organizes a large tent full of Japanese souvenirs and apparel for sale, much of it directly brought from our Sister City Isesaki, Japan. All proceeds benefit SSCA and the Japanese Garden.

For more information, visit the Sister Cities’ website http://peacethroughpeople.org/