The first Greater Kansas City Japan Festival was held on September 13, 1997, on the campus of the University of Missouri at Kansas City. Dr. Andrew Tsubaki was the first chairperson of the Japan Festival Committee. There was a Japanese Consulate in Kansas City that was led by Consul General Tatsuo Tanaka. The President of the Heart of America Japan-America Society was Charles Reinecke.
Consul General Tanaka was the driving force behind starting the first festival. Consul General Tanaka did many innovative things to promote the Japanese culture when he was in Kansas City. He enlisted the help of Dr. Andrew Tsubaki to guide the festival. Dr. Tsubaki guided and grew the festival with the help of many dedicated individuals. In 2004 the festival was moved to the Johnson County Community College where it is still held today.
Another key individual who helped guide the festival was Miyo Wagner. Her dedication and support of the festival was critical to its growth and success.
The 2019 GKCJF will be the fifteenth festival held on the campus of the Johnson County Community College.
Thanks to the many dedicated supporters, organizers, and volunteers, we are able to celebrate the 21st anniversary of the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival founded and started by Consul General Tanaka and Dr. Tsubaki.
Dr. Andrew Tsubaki served as the Executive Director of the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival until his retirement as Executive Director in 2007. Dr. Andrew Tsubaki held appointments at Kansas University as an assistant professor, associate professor and professor of theatre and film, and East Asian languages and cultures from 1968 to 2000. Dr. Tsubaki passed away at the age of 78 in December of 2009.
Mrs. Miyo Wagner served in many capacities to promote and support the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival. Mrs. Wagner passed away at the age of 92 in August of 2017.
The Opening Ceremonies will include music, remarks by distinguished guests and the ritual of Kagamiwari – the breaking of a sake barrel and toast to open the 2019 GKC Japan Festival.
The Greater Kansas City Japan Festival couldn’t take place without our volunteers! We offer over 200 volunteer opportunities to help us staff this amazing festival. Every volunteer is also included in a number of benefits.