Learn more about the culture of Japan by sitting in on an of the cultural presentations at the Kansas City festival.


Calligraphy Workshop
Yukari Nakano and Hiroko Kagawa

Japanese calligraphy is the writing of the Japanese language. Try your hand at writing Japanese characters with a brush and ink with Japanese native experts.

This workshop is for ages 13 and older.


The Games of Go and Shogi
Steve Woodsmall and The Four Dragons Go Club (Daniel Gentry)

Come to this workshop to play actual games, see demonstrations and competition games, and hear a brief discussion of the history and rules of “go” and “shogi.”

Learn about the game “go” that inspires laughter and anger, love and obsession; that creates and destroys worlds. Based on three simple rules, the game that inspired the world famous series “Hikaru no Go.”

Steve Woodsmall is an international attorney who lived and worked in Japan for 12 years. He learned to play “go” and “shoji” during that time.

The Four Dragons Go Club is a Kansas City based group of go players who have been spreading the game of “go” together since 2010. Daniel Gentry has played go for over 15 years and has achieved a ranking of Shodan.


The Samurai Sword
Earle Brigance

In Mr. Brigance’s opinion the Samurai sword is one of the most unique and in depth art objects in the history of the world. Through the fog of antiquity, there remain Three Sacred Treasures of Japan, which are still held in reverence by the people of Japan to this day, they are the Sacred Mirror, the Coma-Shaped Beads and the Samurai sword.

The Samurai sword is often referred to as the soul of the Samurai. The most prized possessions of all wealthy Japanese family is their families’ Samurai sword collection, which reflects their families’ history and has been passed down from one generation to the next generation. It takes approximately six months, to produce a traditional Samurai sword. The skill level required to make such a sword is as high as any treasured art objects requiring years of dedicated study and training.

Collectors of Samurai swords consider them to be not so much as a weapon but rather a work of art. Throughout history, the great Samurai sword smiths, such as Masamune and Sadamune, are held in very high esteem, and thought of as one of the world’s greatest artists. Their exceptional and extraordinary work is valued on a level with artist such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo or Picasso.

Mr. Brigance has studied and collected Samurai swords for over thirty years. He is a member of the JSSUS, Japanese Sword Society of the United States. He is one of the original members of Florida Token Kai; which is an organization established in 1990, devoted to the study of Samurai swords.

Japanese Conversation Workshop
Kazuyo Rumbach

Attend a Japanese language workshop to learn about the Japanese language, and with the aid of the instructor, learn some basics of the language. This workshop is for those who are interested in Japanese language – no previous knowledge of the language is required. You will learn basic words, everyday greetings and writing systems.

Kazuyo is a Japanese native.

Origami Workshop
Akiko Sato

In this workshop you will learn how to fold various origami pieces. Suggested for children ages 10 and older as well as teachers and others interested in origami.

Japanese Garden Design
Koji Morimoto

This workshop will explore the Japanese garden making process and maintenance issues by Koji Morimoto. His 20 years of design knowledge and experience will help you to have a dream garden of your own.

Mr. Morimoto is the owner of Japanese Landscaping Company in Kansas City. Come and hear Japanese garden master Koji Morimoto talk about the principles of Japanese Garden Design and Maintenance. Koji Morimoto has designed, built and maintained traditional Japanese gardens in New York, Kansas and Missouri for over 20 years. He will show how to balance all aspects in the garden and explain the techniques and principles of making outdoor living space.


Kimono Demonstration

The Japanese Kimono is deeply integrated into Japanese history and culture. After a decline in popularity following the Meiji Restoration and WWII, the kimono is now making a resurgence in popularity in Japan and around the world. While dressing her models, instruction and interesting details about how to wear the kimono will be provided in English. Attendees will enjoy seeing three types of formal kimono: (1) Furisode – worn for Coming of Age and the unmarried female; (2) Hō-mongi – worn by married women for special occasions; and (3) Men’s formal kimono and Hakama. A variety of gorgeous obi (the kimono sash) will also be displayed.

Yuri Iijima

Yuri was trained in Kimono Kitsuke in Tokyo and has perfected this skill over the past 20 years. She is a trainer and consultant to a local Kimono shop and also works for one the largest Kimono shows in Japan, held in Tokyo each year.


Sachie Stroder and Miyako Fraley


Learn from Mrs. Stroder all about traditional Japanese Kimonos and Yukata. Also, you will be able to see them demonstrate what is involved in putting on a Kimono or Yukata.

Sachie and Miyako have been JAS member over 40 years as culture and outreach presenters.

Temari Demonstration
Lolly Buxton

Come to this very interesting presentation to learn about Japanese thread balls (temari), which are stitched to create complex designs. Temari balls are a folk art form and Japanese craft that originated in China and was introduced to Japan around the 7th century. “Temari” means “hand ball” in Japanese. Temari became an art and craft of the Japanese upper class and aristocracy, and noble women competed in creating increasingly beautiful and intricate objects.

Temari are highly valued and cherished gifts, symbolizing deep friendship and loyalty. Also, the brilliant colors and threads used are symbolic of wishing the recipient a brilliant and happy life. Traditionally, becoming a craftsman in Japan was a tedious process. Becoming a temari artist in Japan today requires specific training, and one must be tested on one’s skills and technique before being acknowledged as a crafter of temari.

Lolly is a Fiber Artist who has been making and teaching temari for 30 years.

Miniature Trees: An Introduction to the Ancient Art of Bonsai
Kathy J Schlesinger

“Miniature Trees”: An introduction to the Ancient Art of Bonsai – The translation of Bonsai simply means pot or tray planted. However Bonsai is one of the oldest forms of ‘living’ art as trees and plants are grown in containers, artistically designed for the viewers’ enjoyment. This presentation will provide a general overview.

Topics discussed will include Chinese and Japanese origins, philosophy, and description of Bonsai styles, tools, general horticulture procedures, pot selection and the design process. We will wrap up with a review of the various styles using slides featuring examples of different plants used in this unique art. This will also include flowering Japanese Azaleas and several examples of some of the oldest trees in Japan. There will be time for questions and answers.

Kathy Schlesinger has been studying and practicing Bonsai for over 30 years. She is an Officer and Board member of the Bonsai Society of Greater Kansas City.

Kanji Made Easy
Tracie Whiting-Kipper

Is it possible to learn to read Kanji in less than a year? Try out the Heisig method of Kanji acquisition in this fast paced and fun session while exploring the written word from authentic sources. True beginners and seasoned students will all find ways to expand their reading levels from average to extraordinary.

A former Coordinator for International Relations on the JET Program who was assigned as the English Manager of the Nagano Olympic News Agency for the Nagano Olympic Committee and former Economic Analyst for the Consulate General of Japan at Kansas City, Whiting-Kipper is currently the Japanese Language & Culture Lecturer at the Kansas City Art Institute and the online Japanese Adjunct Instructor at the University of Central Missouri.

KCAI was the recent recipient of the Japan Foundation’s prestigious Salary Assistance Grant for her innovative courses. In addition, she provides cross-cultural consulting services throughout the Midwest.

Green Tea in Japan: Trends, Challenges, and the Future
Ayako Mizumura

Drinking green tea has been important to Japanese culture ever since tea was first brought to Japan from China. Traditionally, almost every Japanese household has had a teapot for brewing loose green tea leaves for daily enjoyment by family and when hosting guests. As Japanese lifestyles have become more westernized and diversified, however, tea drinking culture has changed and new trends have emerged. The increasing popularity of canned or bottled green tea beverages, in addition to brewing with loose tea leaves, is one example. This presentation provides information on green tea cultivated in Japan and discusses trends of green tea consumption in contemporary Japanese society.

Ayako Mizumura, born in Saitama, Japan, works at the University of Kansas (KU) and has taught numerous
courses on contemporary East Asia across the disciplines, focusing on Japan. Along with teaching, she manages the M.A. program in Contemporary East Asian Studies offered by the Center for East Asian Studies at KU. Beyond her academic life, Ayako practices the Japanese tea ceremony in Lawrence, Kansas with Dale Slusser, a master of the urasenke tea ceremony school. She is a culinary and visual artist who owns and operates Bimi Bakery, LLC, a local Lawrence bakery specializing in Japanese sweets.

Tea Ceremony Demonstration
Yoko Hiraoka

Yoko Hiraoka, a native of Japan, began her study of the Japanese Tea Ceremony at the age of 14 in the Ura-senke style, later moving to the Omote-senke tradition in Kyoto Japan. Her core training took place in Shõgaku-ji Temple in Hyogo prefecture. She is an Omote-senke licensed teacher with the tea name: ‘Sôrei’, meaning ‘Clear Awareness’. She now teaches tea from her home in Colorado where she has a traditional tea garden and teahouse named ‘Busshin-an’ (House of Buddha’s Heart). She is also a senior master performer/teacher of classical Koto, Biwa, Shamisen music.


Yuri & Hitoshi Iijima

Yuri is a retired Junior High art teacher and Hitoshi is a retired history teacher and school principal. They are from Maebashi, Japan (Olathe’s friendship city). Yuri and Hitoshi are trained in the Edo Senke school of Tea Ceremony as well as Sogetsu school of Ikebana. Yuri has practiced tea and ikebana for 30 years and Hitoshi has practiced tea for 18 years. In addition, Hitoshi is an accomplished craftsman and has made a variety of tea utensils from bamboo. Yuri recently opened a school for Japanese cultural arts called Nagomi-ryu Bunkadou, located in Isesaki Japan (Springfield, Missouri’s sister city). She provides instruction in Tea, Flower arranging, wearing Kimono, water color, and other arts.

Shakuhachi Workshop
David Kansuke Wheeler

Learn how to play the Japanese bamboo flute from master David Wheeler.


Japanese Baseball
Matt Dobbins

“From the Ginza to the Gates: The Story of the US/Japan Baseball Alliance”

Matt Dobbins will be talking about baseball’s ties to Japan. A number of Japanese ballplayers have “made the leap” to Major League Baseball. This presentation will focus on the colorful history of players who have and still do make an impact on the American game
like Americans (including Babe Ruth) did in Japan in the early 20th century.

Matt is a former JAS Vice President and self-proclaimed 野球オタク (baseball nerd). He first experienced the Japanese baseball fandom as a college student in Shiga Prefecture and experienced a lot more of it as a JET ALT in Kagoshima Prefecture. You can listen to him speak about these experiences here

Matt worked as a JET ALT in Kagoshima Prefecture and has also studied at the Japan Center for Michigan Universities in Shiga Prefecture. He is a graduate of Michigan State University and has served on the board of the Heart of America Japan-America Society for 3 years.

Denver Taiko Workshop

Learn all about Taiko drumming from the experts, members of Denver Taiko. This is a hands-on workshop for those wanting to learn the basics of Taiko drumming. (Limit: 15, but spectators are welcome.)

Introduction to Reading Japanese
Tracie Whiting-Kipper

Come to this workshop and venture into the world of written Japanese whether you are a student or just curious. Explore the different writing systems, how they came to be, faster methods to learning them, as well as resources and tools to help you explore the written world of Japanese.

Yosakoi Dance Workshop
Kansas State Yosakoi Dance Group