Samurai Sword Soul headlines the 26th Japanese Fall Festival, Sept. 9-11. The group performs choreographed Japanese sword fighting set to traditional and rock music. (Photo: Springfield Sister Cities Association)

The Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden will come to life Sept. 9-11 for the 26th Japanese Fall Festival. 

The event runs 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 11 at the garden, located inside Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 South Scenic Ave.

The Japanese Fall Festival is presented by the Springfield Sister Cities Association, in partnership with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board. 

“The Japanese Fall Festival is a celebration of authentic Japanese culture highlighting Springfield’s 36-year-old sister city relationship with Isesaki, Japan,” a press release said. “In typical years, Springfield and Isesaki exchange performers to entertain and share culture at each other’s festivals. These exchanges were canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 and are resuming this year.”

Samurai Sword Soul headlines the festival, performing choreographed Japanese sword fighting set to traditional and rock music.

“Their routines include an engaging mix of comedy and humanistic-themed dramas, requiring athleticism and grace,” a press release said.

That’s just one of several performances scheduled for the weekend, several of which are back by popular demand. They include:

  • Uzumaru, a Yosakoi dance ensemble from San Jose’s Japantown
  • Yasu Ishida, a storyteller and magician originally from Ube, Japan
  • Seiran Chiba, a large-scale calligrapher from the Fukushima prefecture in Japan
  • St. Louis Osuua Taiko, ensemble drummers
  • Kizuna, Springfield’s Japan-America friendship club
  • Tracy’s Kenpo Karate Studios of Southwest Missouri, martial arts demonstrators
  • Springfield Cosplay, costume role play demonstrators
  • KiRa KiRa Springfield, cosplay dance team

In addition to the performances, festivalgoers will be able to shop vendor and artisan booths featuring wares authentic to Japanese culture. There will also be a Nihon bunka taiken tent (Japanese culture experience tent), omiyage and dagashi tents (souvenirs and snacks tents) and concessions. 

The Japanese Fall Festival offers cultural opportunities geared toward children, including an activity area featuring traditional Japanese games and crafts. That tent will be led by Japanese language students from Kickapoo High School. Those activities will end by dusk, but the fun will continue.

“Beginning at dusk on Friday and Saturday, Sept. 9 and 10, hundreds of torches light the garden pathways and soft Japanese music fills the air to create a romantic strolling atmosphere,” the press release said. “Purchase a wishing lantern and set your dreams afloat on one of the koi ponds.”

Admission is $12 for adults on Sept. 10 and $8 Sept. 9 and 11. Children ages 12 and younger get in for $3 any day. Costume Day, in partnership with Springfield Cosplay, is Sept. 11. Guests in cosplay receive $3 admission that day.

Springfield Sister Cities Association donates half of the proceeds from Japanese Fall Festival admissions to the maintenance and development of the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden. The remaining proceeds benefit cultural programs which further the association’s mission of “Peace through People.”

For more information, visit the Springfield Sister Cities Association website, or call 417-864-1191.

Jeff Kessinger

Jeff Kessinger covered sports in southwest Missouri for the better part of 20 years, from young athletes to the pros. The Springfield native and Missouri State University alumnus is thrilled to be doing journalism in the Queen City, helping connect the community with important information. He and wife Jamie daily try to keep a tent on the circus that is a blended family of five kids and three cats. More by Jeff Kessinger