Cultural Presentations

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Voices of Japanese “War Brides” in Postwar Kansas

Dr. Ayako Mizumura

3:45 pm–4:45 pm • Recital Hall

Japanese women fled the devastation of a war-torn Japan after World War II to find challenges in a strange, new world. After marrying US military men and moving to the United States, these young women often faced challenges and hardship while others found opportunity and success.

How did they adjust to a Western world and a military culture? How did they maintain connection to their homes and families back in Japan? This talk will share the voices of Japanese women who triumphed amidst great struggle to find community, connection, and cultural identity in the place they viewed as the last destination of their lives— the Kansas prairie.

Presented by Dr. Ayako Mizumura. Ayako is the academic director of the University of Kansas’s Center for East Asian Studies, a role she’s held since 2013.

Dr. Mizumura’s lecture is sponsored by the Humanities Kansas Speakers Bureau. The Bureau engages audiences with in-person and online humanities-based presentations designed to share stories that inspire, spark conversations that inform, and generate insights that strengthen civic engagement. Visit to learn more.


Evolution and Usage of Japanese Armor

Jimmy Forred

Noon–1:00 pm • Recital Hall

Mr. Forred’s lecture will focus on the history of Japanese armor leading up to the modern era.

Mr. Jimmy Forred has been a member of Tosa No Shugyo Dojo for the last eight years, studying Kenjutsu, Kendo, Sojutsu, and Iai.

Legacy of the Samurai

J.M. “Tora” Lawson

1:15 pm–2:15 pm • Recital Hall

Mr. Lawson’s presentation will discuss the evolution of Samurai culture and how it has survived into the modern era. He will discuss the samurai and how their role as samurai changed throughout their centuries long rule of Japan. He will speak about how even after the official end of the samurai class, the impact of those various phases of the samurai are still very present in contemporary Japanese culture and the ripple effect that it has had around the world.

After his presentation, he will answer questions the attendees have about Samurai culture.

Tora Lawson has had thirty-seven years of experience in Japanese Martial Arts; including Kenjutsu, Kendo, Iai, and Sojutsu both in the United States and in Kochi, Japan. He is the founder of the Tosa No Shugyo organization based out of Wichita, Kansas.

Earle Brigance: The Samurai Sword

The Samurai Sword

Earle Brigance

Noon–1:00 pm and 1:15–2:15 pm • Hudson Auditorium

Mr. Brigance will be with us again this year, giving two lectures on the Samurai Sword and the Samurai Sword’s influence on the history of Japan. Mr. Brigance will display Samurai Swords from his personal collection. As a service Mr. Brigance will inspect and evaluate any Japanese Sword which you may have and also offers the service of cleaning and preserving Japanese Swords, which are easily damaged when not handled or stored correctly.

You may contact Mr. Brigance for these services at his email address Mr. Brigance is also available to lecture on the Samurai Sword and its influence on the history of Japan for your civic or martial group who has an interest in the Samurai Sword.


Koji's Garden Workshop

Japanese Garden Design

Koji Morimoto

Noon–1:00 pm and 3:45–4:45 pm • MTC 122

This presentation will explore the Japanese garden making process, maintenance issues and ideas for creating a Japanese garden by Koji Morimoto. His 20 plus 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.

Miniature Trees: An Introduction to the Ancient Art of Bonsai

Kathy Schlesinger

1:15–2:15 pm • MTC 122

“Miniature Trees”: An introduction to the Ancient Art of Bonsai. The translation of Bonsai simply means “planted in a shallow tray”. However, Bonsai is one of the oldest forms of ‘living’ art as trees and plants are grown in containers, artistically designed, in the Japanese style.

This presentation will provide a general overview of the many aspects in practicing this art form including Chinese and Japanese origins, philosophy, and description of design styles, tools, general horticulture procedures, pot selection and the design process. We will also “look at” some of the trees gifted to the US, by Japan during our 200th birthday celebration, in the National Arboretum.

To wrap up we will review the various styles discussed using slides featuring examples of the many different plants used in this unique art, here and around the world. There will be time for questions and answers.

Kathy Schlesinger is a biologist and research scientist who was first introduced to Bonsai in 1976 before moving to the KC area from the East coast. She has been practicing and studying this art with teachers from across the globe, for over 30 years. Bonsai has become a lifelong passion of study and she enjoys sharing the beauty and joy of this Japanese art. She is also a current Board member and officer of the Bonsai Society of Greater Kansas City.

One Heaven, One Family, One Mother Earth: Engaging in a Three-Dimensional Spiritual Dialogue Through Yōkō Farming

Koji and Susan Nakao

Noon–1:00 pm • MTC 126A

Are you a young person concerned about our environmental future? Are you a farmer seeking ways to feed an ever-growing population? Are you a scholar or scientist seeking ways to return the carbon dioxide level in the atmosphere to a sustainable number?

Whether you live on the 20th floor of an urban high-rise, in the suburbs, or on a farm, you can grow your own fruits, vegetables, and grains and can create an enduring spiritual dialogue with Heaven, humans and the natural world that will benefit future generations, as well as your own.

The Yōkō Farming Method began in Japan almost fifty years ago – long before people had any awareness or concerns about climate change, capturing carbon, or renewing the soil. In the past twenty-five years, it has gradually spread throughout the world as a means of restoring the soil, raising the spiritual consciousness, reviving the hearts of humankind, and providing spiritually nutritious food for a growing population.

This presentation will introduce you to an amazing way to deeply connect with what it means to be human living in a spiritually vibrant natural world in this critical time in the 21st century. If you are a young person who is deeply concerned about the future, or if you simply want to find a way to reconnect with nature and elevate your own consciousness in the process, please join us for this lively presentation that is tremendously important for today’s world.

Koji and Susan Nakao own a small Yoko Farm in Franklin County, KS, about 40 minutes south of JCCC where they grow a variety of fruit, summer vegetables, and have two small rice paddies – the only organically grown Japanese Rice in Kansas (Koshihikari variety). They have been practicing Yōkō Agriculture in a variety of forms since the early 1990’s.

The Art of True Light: Hope for a Troubled Age

Koji and Susan Nakao

2:30–3:30 pm • MTC 126A

Whether you’re in your youth, or are growing older but remaining young in heart, many issues in today’s society seem to be appearing like clouds in the sky, and humankind is struggling through a haze of confusion, frustration, and polarization, without a clear path to a brighter future. Though most solutions try to resolve problems at the phyiscal or mental levels, the Art of True Light focuses on the spiritual aspect. And, if you really think about it, the spiritual aspect is a key focus in the life and culture of Japan. It is the upstream of life in a diverse and seemingly complicated world.

The Art of True Light is a spiritual energy practice that seeks to purify the upstream of the river, rather than the middle ordownstream. With more than one million people in over a hundred countries now practicing this “super-hero spiritual art” by giving energy with one’s hand, there is indeed “Hope for a troubled age,” manifesting just when difficulties are increasing for many.

When the Art of True Light is combined with knowledge of the universal principles, such as the Principle of the Upstream,” or the “Principle of Balance,” a seed of hope toward a positive future starts to grow. When practiced regularly, the spiritual aspect of the mind becomes brighter– like the rising sun on the Japanese flag – and both the heart and the body are gradually filled with positive energy.

Please join us for a presentation on this ancient Art of True Light that originated in Japan and has already been embraced by more than one million people in approximately one hundred countries throughout the world.


A Look at Japanese Game Shows on American Television

Joshua Murphy

2:00–3:00 pm • MTC 338

In this presentation, Joshua Murphy will look at Japanese Game and Variety Shows and their effect on the American television landscape. Takeshi’s Castle, Ninja Warrior, Ultra Quiz, Shark Tank and America’s Funniest Home videos are some of the shows that will be discussed and seen in this panel.

Joshua Murphy is a Historian who has interviewed over 100 television personalities, producers, and distributors. He has been a Japanese Gameshow fan for over a decade and has been studying Japanese Gameshows for over ten years.

SASUKE: The Genesis of Ninja Warrior

Joshua Murphy

4:00–5:00 pm • MTC 124

In this lecture, Joshua Murphy will explain the history of one of the most successful Japanese game show franchises. The history of how a segment on a sports competition show became the worldwide phenomenon of Ninja Warrior.

Japan Studies Association Presentations

Since its foundation in 1994, the JSA has assisted its members, primarily teachers from American two- and four-year colleges and universities, to acquire first-hand knowledge about Japan and infuse it into the curriculum of their home institutions.

Through workshops and study-tours, and the professional networking they enable, JSA’s members have been inspired to engage in curriculum development, design study-abroad programs, and initiate Japan-related or comparative research, outlets for which they have found both in the organization’s Japan Studies Association Journal and its annual national conference.

The Japan Studies Association is holding a regional Professional Development Workshop on October 6-8, 2022, at the Johnson County Community College in conjunction with the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival.

The Greater Kansas City Japan Festival is please to collaborate with the Japan Studies Association for their Professional Development Workshop.

Japanese Commercials – A Historical Look

Dr. Alisa Freedman

1:15–2:15 pm • MTC 126B

Come learn what makes Japanese TV commercials so weird, creepy, sentimental, cute, and different from those in the US. We watch and discuss ads from approximately from 70 years of commercial history (1953 to 2022) that have changed Japanese popular culture and established marketing trends. Commercials do more than advertise products. They tell stories and reflect social desires and fears. They are a social glue and become part of our cultural vocabulary. They give us something to talk about. (I hope this presentation can be a companion to the fascinating presentation scheduled on Japanese game shows!)

Alisa Freedman is a Professor of Japanese Literature, Cultural Studies, and Gender at the University of Oregon. Her books include Japan on American TV: Screaming Samurai Form Anime Clubs in the Land of the Lost, Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road, an annotated translation of Kawabata Yasunari’s The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa, and co-edited volumes on Modern Girls on the Go: Gender, Mobility, and Labor in Japan and Introducing Japanese Popular Culture.

150 Years of Japanese Trains

Dr. Alisa Freedman

3:45–4:45 pm • MTC 126A

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese railroad, we will discuss how trains have changed Japanese society and culture. Trains offer ways to understand Japan’s urban development and how people have made themselves at home in cities. This panel is based on my book, Tokyo in Transit: Japanese Culture on the Rails and Road.

Still Chasing that Missing Slipper: A Cinderella Story from
Japan Reaches a Stormy Bermuda

Dr. Fay Beauchamp

2:30–3:30 pm • Hudson Auditorium

Professor Fay Beauchamp has been tracking Cinderella stories from East to West since she first compared the Akashi Chapter from The Tale of Genji (c1000CE) and Shakespeare’s 1611 The Tempest.

In exile, lonely daughters live along ocean shores until supernatural beings bring princes to take them home. In this illustrated presentation, Dr. Beauchamp will compare strange ‘fairy god-fathers”: Japan’s Thundergod Sumiyoshi; a Chinese wind god; and Shakespeare’s Ariel and explore the idea that the real Cinderella is the freed-slave Caliban, not Miranda. The seminal story is an 850 CE tale told by an ethnic minority storyteller in Southeast China in 850 CE — How this Cinderella story traveled by boat is part of Dr. Beauchamp own storytelling.

Dr. Fay Beauchamp, Professor of English Emerita, Community College of Philadelphia (Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania). Fay has been selected as its 2022 Distinguished Asianist by the Mid-Atlantic Association of Asian Studies.

Understanding the Different Types of Manga

Dr. Michael Charlton

3:45–4:45 pm • Hudson Auditorium

Newcomers to manga are often surprised to learn that there are many different genres of manga, each with its own typical reader and subject matter. For example, “shojo” manga focuses on young female readers, friendships, and romance. “Seinen” manga focuses on young male readers, often stressing action. “Josei” manga focuses on adult relationships and often more realistic settings. This presentation would give a brief overview of each major genre while offering recommendations of famous works in the genre.

Dr. Michael Charlton, Chair & Professor, Department of Communication, Missouri Western State University (Ph.D. University of Oklahoma).

Zuihitsu, Haibun, and New Possibilities of Genre

Dr. Andrea Stover

Noon–1:00 pm • MTC 124

My experience of teaching a new course based solely on Zuihitsu, a form of writing in which the writer “follows the brush” and writes associatively, and Haibun, a form of travel writing that includes a short prose piece describing an object, scene or special moment coupled with a haiku poem, has shown me the hunger students have for alternative genres in which to record the precision of their observations and the development of their thinking.

The course was experimental, creative, cross-cultural, and multigenerational covering authors who have dappled in these genres from the 10th to the 21st century. My talk will address the insights gained by students steeped in the tradition of Western genres as they experienced the freeing possibilities of Japanese styles of writing.

Dr. Andrea Stover, Professor of English, Belmont University (Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Amherst).

Japanese Professional Baseball’s Lost Decade and the Crisis of 2004

Dr. Paul Dunscomb

2:30–3:30 pm • MTC 124

Japanese pro baseball, the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization (NPB) had a business model that reached its mature form along with postwar Japan’s political economy in the 1950s and 1960s. By the time Japan’s Bubble Economy collapsed, however, this model was no longer sustainable. Yet, like the overseers of Japan’s political economy, NPB owners felt they could ride out the storm making the minimum change necessary.

The crisis of 2004, which saw the merger of two teams, meant that change could no longer be avoided. But what sort of change? Owners looked to radically shrink the industry in order to maintain their control over it. Players and fans were willing to embrace transformative change in order to preserve the basic structure of pro ball.

The way the crisis worked out says a lot about the nature of change in Japan during these years.

Dr. Paul Dunscomb, Professor of History, University of Alaska, Anchorage (Ph.D. University of Kansas).

Enthusiastic Visitors to a New Old Country: European and American Tourists in Meiji Japan

Dr. Jennifer Welsh

1:45–2:45 pm • MTC 126A

The beginning of the Meiji Era in Japan coincided with the development of nineteenth-century middle class tourism. Suddenly, people could travel the world and experience new cultures in a way that had not previously been possible.

Japan was of particular interest because it had not been accessible during the centuries of the Tokugawa shogunate. Japanese culture, the Japanese people, and even the landscape and architecture of the country attracted a wide range of visitors.

Many of the European and American travelers who went to Japan, whether they were only there for a short visit or lived there for a longer period of time, wrote about their travels for an international audience fascinated with the country.

In this presentation, I will look at the writings of these travelers to Japan during these decades of incredible change and significant continuity. What were their expectations? What were their experiences? How did they present Japan and Japanese culture to the rest of the world?

Dr. Jennifer Welsh, Assistant Professor of History, Eastern New Mexico University (Ph.D. Duke University).