Every year for the last 22 years, Springfield has hosted the Japanese Fall Festival. It’s a weekend long event, taking place the 8th, 9th, and 10th of September, and it’s held in the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. The times are as follows: Friday: 5-10 pm. Saturday: 11am-10pm. Sunday: 11am-6pm. It’s a fairly popular Springfield event, with over 2,000 people interested in attending on Facebook. What you may not know though, is why we have the Japanese Fall Festival in the first place. Well, the festival is hosted by Springfield Sister Cities, one of those cities being Isesaki, Japan. A sister city is a city that is linked to another, usually for the purposes of cultural exchange. Springfield and Isesaki became sister cities all the way back in 1986!
In 2017, Sister Cities is still focused on encouraging interaction across cultures. That’s what the Japanese Fall Festival is meant to do. Among the many events held during the festival, some include: A Japanese storyteller, Kimono shows, Tracy’s Karate, Japanese Folk dances, and a cosplay parade. There will also be a Tea Cafe where you can get authentic Japanese Matcha tea and Japanese tea candy, along with a Japanese tea ceremony. Additionally, there will be interactive Origami booths. The festival is very close to the people of Springfield’s hearts’, but it is also very close to the people of DU’s hearts’! Dr. Maxson of the communication department shared his story of how close he is to our Sister City. Dr. Maxson says, “I first came to know Springfield Sister Cities when they chose DUkes to represent our city at the Isesaki Arts Festival in 2015. We spent two weeks in Japan. We stayed with host families. We performed at a local hospital, a special dinner with dignitaries, the main stage during the festival—even a parade. The experience was transformative. We came to love Japan and our sister city.”
After that, Dr. Maxson got to have plenty of other interactions with our Sister City and its people during their Arts Festival and our Fall Festival. Dr. Maxson and Uke 66 ukulele band will perform their “uklectic” intercultural mix on Friday at 5:00 pm at the gate, and then again on Saturday at noon, and Sunday at 1:00 pm, on the main stage. If you’re not into ukelele music, don’t worry, there are plenty of other activities at the Japanese Fall Festival for you to enjoy. Are you a fan the Japanese style of film and television, anime? If so, find your way to the main stage at 4:45 pm on Saturday. There will be a performance there by Kira Kira, a cosplay group here in Springfield. They will be performing a dance from the anime, “Love Live School Idol Project”.
Amelia Hicks, who has been involved with the Japanese Fall Festival for two years now as a volunteer, is finally performing in the cosplay dance. She says, “I adore the festival. It’s just an awesome way for us to interact with the members of our Japanese sister city.” As Dr. Maxson said, “Our love for Japan and our sister city has grown deeper than I could ever have imagined, which is exactly the motivation behind Sister Cities. “Peace Through People” is their motto and they achieve this by creating opportunities for the people of Springfield to interact with people from Japan.” So don’t miss your opportunity to connect with the people from your sister city, Isesaki!