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Ryoichi Kinoshita Sensei – Aikido and Calligraphy


Ryoichi KinoshitaA very special opportunity for festival attendees this year is the appearance of Ryoichi Kinoshita Sensei (Aikido 7th Dan Shihan; Shodo Shihan) from Osaka, Japan. Kinoshita Sensei is a renowned Aikido martials master and a calligraphy master. His amazing skills and talents will be a special treat for all festival attendees to enjoy. This is a very rare opportunity for festival attendees.

Kinoshita Sensei will give Aikido demonstrations and will integrate Shodo (calligraphy) into his exciting presentations.

Before beginning his study of Aikido, Kinoshita trained in Kendo for eleven years, beginning at age six. He first began Aikido training under Abe Seiseki Shihan, attaining Shodan at age 16. At age 24, he became Uchi Deshi under Abe Shihan, and also joined the instructional staff at Amenotakemusu Juku Aikido Dojo. In 1991 he received 6th dan from the Aikikai Foundation. From 1996 to present day, he has been director and head instructor of Suisenkan Aikido dojo in Suita, Japan. He instructs full-time in Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara.

As a longtime student of Abe Sensei, a close personal friend and calligraphy teacher of Osensei, the Founder of Aikido, Kinoshita Sensei studied calligraphy as well as Aikido with Abe Sensei.​ Kinoshita Sensei has given seminars in Santa Cruz (CA), Berkeley (CA), San Jose (CA), San Francisco (CA), Kansas City (KS), Iowa City (IA), Rochester (NY), and Syracuse (NY).

He has been named Honorary Professor and Honorary Doctor by IOND University. (イオン ド大学) He is married with three children.

For more information and to keep up with Ryoichi Kinoshita , visit his official website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.


Yukari Nakano Sensei – Calligraphy


Another special opportunity for attendees this year is Yukari Nakano Sensei, coming from Osaka, Japan. Nakano Sensei is one of the top calligraphy masters in Japan and is a member of the prestigious Japan Art Academy. Attendees will have the opportunity to practice the art of calligraphy from a real Japanese master. Nakano Sensei will be participating with Kinoshita Sensei at his demonstrations in Yardley Hall.


Denver Taiko

Taiko DrummersDenver Taiko is a percussive group that has been in existence for 40 years. Using traditional Japanese drums and other instruments, Denver Taiko combines both modern and ancient rhythms into a style and sound which is uniquely their own. This group provides an outlet for cultural and personal expression that is both visually exciting and emotionally moving.

Denver Taiko is an important part of Colorado and the West’s cultural landscape, playing at concerts, festivals and diversity celebrations throughout the region. Denver’s Mayor Wellington Webb honored the group in 2001 when it received the Mayor’s annual award for Excellence in the Arts.

Be sure to come to see the energy, spirit and artistry of Denver Taiko that has “rocked” audiences for more than 40 years!

For more information and to keep up with Denver Taiko , visit their official website, Facebook page, and YouTube channel.


Three Trails Taiko


Three Trails Taiko LogoThree Trails Taiko is a community group, currently consisting of approximately twelve volunteers. They have performed for local festivals, relief events, libraries, organizations and business events in Greater Kansas City area. Their goal is to become better taiko players in mind, body, and spirit while sharing the tradition, culture and art of Kumi Daiko and Japan with the surrounding community.

Three Trails Taiko was formed in the summer of 2010 from the collaboration of some passionate taiko players from Denver Taiko and KiDaiko (the Olathe High School District taiko group). The group is available to perform for various events.

For more information and to keep up with Three Trails Taiko , visit their official website and Facebook page.


John Lytton – Kabuki Music
(With Yoko Hiraoka / Koto and David Kansuke Wheeler / Shakuhachi)


In 2014, John Lytton returned to Kansas after living in Tokyo, Japan for 36 years. He acquired extensive experience in the field of Kabuki music, and related genres of drama and stage music. His musical experience ranges from the three-stringed shamisen to the drums of the hayashi ensemble. He feels that this notable festival is a powerful addition to the greater Kansas City cultural landscape.


Aya Uchida – Pop Music of the “New” Japan with Jo Yamanaka


Aya UchidaThe GKC Japan Festival is proud to feature Ms. Aya Uchida a Japanese professional pop singer who has come all the way from Kyoto, Japan to perform for us again this year. Ms. Uchida was born in Kyoto, Japan. In 2009, she met with guitarist, Jo Yamanaka and they started to produce and sing their original songs. Their first collaborative single, “Mahalo-Arigato,” was originally created for the Kansas City Japan Festival and was very well received in the U.S.

Aya’s official debut as a professional singer took place in June 2010 when her first album was released. At the same time Aya started her own show/program for a local radio station. Not only in Japan, Aya has performed in many Japan festivals in the US and has also frequently visited the Republic of Haiti to entertain members of the Japan Self- Defense Force, dispatched to provide international relief activities after the 2010 earthquake and has also visited children’s orphanages to share her songs and support.

Aya’s new music video “Long Road / J-Country Version” was taken at an old ranch near Kansas City. And, her new music video “MAHALO~ALOHA” was performed in Kansas City.

Mr. Jo Yamanaka will accompany Aya on guitar.

For more information and to keep up with Ms. Aya Uchida , visit her official website.


Wichita Eisa


Wichita Eisa Drum MembersWichita Eisa is a comprised of members of the Okinawa Karate Dojo in Wichita, Kansas. Eisa is an Okinawan drum dance, and members will be dancing to Okinawan folk songs. Eisa is normally performed during the summer months in Okinawa.

Instruments include a small hand held drum or paranku, a double sided hand held drum called shime daiko, a mid-sized drum called chu daiko and a large drum called o daiko.

The students at Okinawa Karate Dojo don’t just learn karate, but also learn Japanese phrases and about the culture of Japan. Johnny Ichiro Jandrakovic is the chief instructor at the Okinawa Karate Dojo. The group has performed at the Wichita Asian festival for the past few years and at the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival.


Kansas State University Yosakoi Dance Group


K-State Yosakoi Glowstick DanceYosakoi is a unique style of dance that originated in Japan. Yosakoi started in the city of Kochi in 1954, as a modern rendition of Awa Odori, a traditional summer dance. As of 2005, Yosakoi-style dancing has spread throughout much of Japan. The style of dance is highly energetic, combining traditional Japanese dance movements with modern music.

The K-State Yosakoi dancers traveled to Hokkaido, Japan, in June of 2006 to participate in the large Yosakoi festival there. With more than 43,000 dancers and 370-plus teams, K-State Yosakoi Dance Group was awarded with a “Performance Award”.

For more information and to keep up with the K-State Yosakoi dancers , visit their official website.


Yoko Hiraoka and David Kansuke Wheeler


Yoko and David performingYoko Hiraoka is a master performer of the koto (13-string zither), shamisen (3-string lute), biwa (4- or 5- string fretted lute), and voice. An authoritative exponent and teacher of the traditional music of Japan, she is also an active interpreter of the contemporary
repertoire for her instruments. She is a native of Kyoto, Japan and studied classical koto and shamisen music from an early age.

For more than thirty years, Ms. Hiraoka has performed and lectured extensively at universities, festivals, and on television/radio and studio recordings. Her appearances have included concerts and lectures at Columbia University, Princeton, Yale, UCLA, UC Berkeley, the University of Chicago, Bowdoin College, Colby College and many other universities and major music festivals. For more information about Yoko Hiraoka visit here.

David Kansuke Wheeler is a musician and musicologist. David visited Japan in 1977 as an exchange student and entered the tutelage of shakuhachi master Junsuke Kawase III. In 1981, he returned to Japan on a Japanese Education Ministry scholarship to do graduate study at the Tokyo University of Fine Arts and Music, where he received his M. A. in musicology in 1985.

David has spent many decades immersed in the world of classical shakuhachi (bamboo flute), both during his long residence in Japan and now in the US. He now works to present this fascinating instrument and its musical charms to international audiences.

Since 1982, David has been performing, teaching, lecturing, and writing about the shakuhachi and Japanese music both in Japan and around the world, and has made numerous performance appearances on Japanese television and radio. While he specializes in the classical traditions of Sankyoku ensemble and Kinko-ryu Honkyoku, his performance activities cover the full range of music today; everything from Japanese to Western, from classical to the avant garde.

David was a visiting Japanese music lecturer and shakuhachi instructor at the College of Music at the University of Colorado, where he co-organized and prepared the World Shakuhachi Festival 1998 (July 5-11) at CU Boulder, and also lectures and instructs students at Naropa University. In addition to performing and teaching, he also organizes and produces major events including World Shakuhachi Festivals and Shakuhachi Study Camps. His performances with koto player Yoko Hiraoka are well known. He has made great contributions to the Kansas City Japan Festival in the past, and we hope he will continue with us.

He lives in Boulder, Colorado, and teaches, lectures and performs around the US, in Japan and elsewhere.



Children’s Mikoshi Parade – The James Family and Students at the Saturday Japanese School

1:00 p.m.

(The Mikoshi Parade will start at the Torii-gate, proceed around the 1 st floor of Carlsen Center, then proceed to the courtyard, then stop and turn around in front of Cafeteria (Regnier Center) and come back to the Torii.)

Omikoshi is a divine palanquin (also translated as portable Shinto shrine). Shinto followers believe that it serves asvehicle to transport a deity while moving between main shrine and temporary shrine during a festival or when moving to a new shrine. Often, the mikoshi resembles a miniature building, with pillars, walls, a roof, a veranda and a railing.

During a matsuri (Japanese festival) involving a mikoshi, people bear the mikoshi on their shoulders by means of two, four (or sometimes, rarely, six) poles. They bring the mikoshi from the shrine, carry it around the neighborhoods that worship at the shrine, and in many cases leave it in a designated area, resting on blocks called uma (horse), for a time before moving it from side to side to “amuse” the kami (deity) inside.

The James family, an American Japanese family living in Kansas City, has organized a Mikoshi parade for festival attendees this year. Participating in the parade will be Japanese children carrying the traditional-style festival float and accompanied by taiko performers.

Please come to watch and enjoy this traditional Japanese tradition.