Special Performance – Children’s Mikoshi Parade

The James Family
12:45-1:15 pm and 5:00-5:30 pm

The Mikoshi Parade will start at the Torii-gate, proceed around the 1st 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.

A mikoshi is a divine palanquin (also translated as portable Shinto shrine). Shinto followers believe that it serves as the vehicle to transport a deity in Japan 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 deity (kami) inside.

The James family an, America Japanese family living I 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.


Aya Uchida – Pop Music of the “New” Japan with Jo Yamanaka
The 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. Mr. Jo Yamanaka will accompany her on the guitar. 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 composed for the Kansas City Japan Festival and was very well received in the U.S. and Japan.

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 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. You can find these videos on YouTube!

Aya Uchida
Aya Uchida


Ki Daiko Olathe High School Taiko Group
Ki Daiko is comprised of students from the Olathe public schools. The group started in 2003 and has performed extensively throughout the Kansas City region. Students learn the basics of gumi daiko playing; develop traditional as well as creative repertoire; care for the instruments and respect for one another. The group’s founder and director is Dianne Daugherty. Keiko Okada Brown and Karen Reed serve as instructors and leaders. The group practices once a week and are grateful to Olathe North High School for hosting our practices and allowing storage space for our drums.


Three Trails Taiko
Yardley Hall from 3:35-4:10 pm

Three Trails Taiko is a community group, currently consisting of approximately twelve volunteers. They have performed at 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 formed in the summer of 2010 from the collaboration of some passionate taiko players from Denver Taiko and KiDaiko. The group is available to perform for various events. Please visit www.threetrailstaiko.com or email ThreeTrailsTaiko@gmail.com for more information. Please follow Three Trails Taiko on Facebook for upcoming events including workshops.


Yoko Hiraoka
Yoko Hiraoka is a senior master performer of Biwa, Koto, Shamisen (Japanese instruments) and Jiuta voice. She is a native of Kyoto, Japan and studied classical and modern koto and shamisen music from an early age. Her performance career originated in Japan and spans almost thirty years.

Yoko’s repertoire includes contemporary compositions by both Japanese and American composers and classical Japanese music. Since moving to the U.S. in 1993, she has performed extensively at festivals, concerts, lectures, recitals and on television and radio. Performances have taken place at the Art Institute of Chicago, Princeton University, Yale University, UCLA, Bowdoin, Smith and Colby colleges, the Lotus Festival, Atlanta Japanfest and St. Louis Japan Festival, just to name a few.


Spiral Staircase Duo
Mai Todokoro Hessel and Eric Hessel
Yardley Hall from 12-12:30 pm and 5:10-5:40 pm

The Spiral Staircase Duo is an innovative chamber ensemble combining the mellow horn and the articulate marimba. After debuting in Osaka and Nara, Japan in 2016, Spiral Staircase established themselves as regular performers around the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They seek to introduce new music for an unusual combination and recast beloved repertoire for their unique and intriguing sound.

A native of Nara, Japan, Mai Tadokoro Hessel (marimba) currently serves as an adjunct professor of percussion at Texas Wesleyan University. Since moving to the U.S. in 2002, she has become an active percussionist and educator in Kansas City, MO and Dallas-Fort Worth, TX areas. Her marimba performance was featured at a TEDxWyandotte event, the video of which is published internationally. Mai’s world premiere recording of Warren Benson’s Largo Tah for marimba and bass trombone will be published through the Naxos Label.

Originally from Colorado Springs, Colorado, Eric Hessel (horn) is a talented orchestral hornist, chamber musician, and soloist. He currently performs with the Lone Star Wind Orchestra and the Sherman Symphony. Prior to pursuing his doctorate in horn performance at the University of North Texas, Hessel served as Third/Assistant Principal Horn of the Topeka Symphony, and Co-Principal of the Lawrence Community Orchestra while pursuing a Master’s at the University of Kansas under Paul Stevens.

As a composer, Eric Hessel’s works have been performed across the United States, as well as in Mexico, Belgium, France, Germany, and Japan. He holds a BM in Composition from Arizona State University, where he studied under Roshanne Etezady, Jody Rockmaker, Rodney Rogers, and James DeMars.


Denver Taiko
Yardley Hall from 2:10-2:40 pm and 6:30-7:00 pm

Denver 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!


Yoshiko Yamanaka
Polsky Theatre from 11:40-12:00 pm and 3:30-3:50 pm 
(With John Lytton / Shamisen and David Kansuke Wheeler / Shakuhachi)

Japanese Buyo dancer Yoshiko Yamanaka was born and grew up in Kyoto. She began studying Buyo Dance at age six. At age 12 she became a dancer of the Wakayagi School of Buyo Dance. At 21 she was certified as a teacher in the art.

In addition, she has studied and is a qualified teacher in the Tea Ceremony of the Ura Senke School, of Ikebana (flower arranging) and is a certified lecturer in the art of classical Kimono wear.

Mrs. Yamanaka has studied all of the disciplines of a classical Japanese female and has attained top-level expertise in each of them. Even in Japan it is rare to find an individual with her extremely high level of training and expertise in these traditional arts.


Wichita Eisa
Yardley Hall from 11:30-11:45 am 
CapFed Food Court from 12:15-12:30 pm

Wichita 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.


John Lytton
Polsky Theatre from 11:40-12:00 pm and 3:30-3:50 pm 
(With Yoshiko Yamanaka / Buyo Dance and David Kansuke Wheeler / Shakuhachi)

This special performance will take a look at the four seasons in Japan as expressed in music for the shamisen. The finale will be a classical dance by Yoshiko Yamanaka. Explanation of the content will be given at the start of the program.

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.


Monica (Kino) Bradley and Michelle (Kotono) Bradley
Yardley Hall from 11:10-11:20 am and 3:20-3:30 pm

Monica (Kino) Bradley and Michelle (Kotono) Bradley were born and raised in Tateyama City, Chiba prefecture in Japan. In 2000 they moved to Kansas City to learn English and finish school in Kansas City. In the same year that they moved to Kansas City, they performed a song called “Best Friend” by Kiroro at the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival at UMKC. At the time Monica was 14 and Michelle was only 12.

Now 17 years later they will perform “Story” by AI. AI is an international biracial artist who writes amazing music wrote the song. In 2014 her song was used in “bigherob” in English. At the 2017 GKCJF the Bradley’s will perform the song in both Japanese and English to deliver the song’s music and message.


Fujiko Morita
CapFed Food Court from 12:30-1:00 pm and 2:30-3:15 pm
(With Aya Uchida and Jo Yamanaka)

The GKC Japan Festival will feature Fujiko Morita, a Japanese flute player who has also come all the way from Kyoto, Japan to perform for us this year. Fujiko will perform in the Food Court with Aya Uchida and Jo Yamanaka