Ozark Outdoors

Japanese Fall Festival links Springfield, Isesaki

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A jade boulder from Alaska greets visitors to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden at Nathanael Greene Park in Springfield.

A jade boulder from Alaska greets visitors to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden at Nathanael Greene Park in Springfield.

The 19th Annual Japanese Fall Festival Friday through Sunday, Sept. 12-14, highlights one of the Ozarks’ most pristine attractions, the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield. The event is a fund-raiser for the Springfield Sister Cities Association, with plenty of support from the Springfield-Greene County Park Board as well as visitors from Isesaki, Japan and visiting musicians from St. Louis.

This year’s festival includes a performing delegation from Springfield’s sister city of Isesaki, an international Sumo champion, the Osuwa Taiko Drummers, Japanese top spinning, martial arts, a kimono fashion show and special dance performance and a wide array of other activities and local performances.

The festival also hosts daily tea ceremonies in the lakeside teahouse along with a tea café, nightly candlelight strolls through the garden, local performers, authentic Japanese food and regional artisans and merchants. A large tent-top market offers Japanese souvenirs and apparel, with all proceeds benefiting the Springfield Sister Cities Association and the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden.

Highlights of the festival include:

  • Friday night opening ceremonies with hundreds of local Kindergarten-through-fifth grade students, who were invited as ambassadors to represent their classes from every Springfield public elementary school.
  • International Sumo champion.
  • Osuwa Taiko Drummers, from St. Louis- more at www.stltaiko.org.
  • Visiting Isesaki, Japan delegation performance.
  • Traditional Japanese top spinner Hiroshi Tada.
  • Local martial arts groups.
  • Local band DUkes: Drury University Ukulele Club, which will travel to Isesaki, Japan, in 2015.
  • Hands-on kids’ activities from the Kickapoo High School Japanese Club, including chop sticks instruction, face painting, origami, Japanese-style yo-yos.
  • A special Japanese arts tent.

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

For volunteer or vendor information visit www.peacethroughpeople.org.

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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