Having the privilege to take part in the festivities again this year, I wasted no time in engrossing myself within the festivities at the Springfield Japanese Fall Festival. This 23rd event is an honoring event wherein Springfield, MO will fly out members of Isesaki, Japan to perform and teach us about Japanese culture each and every year. The activities that one can expect to see rangers from cultural dances, storytelling, acrobatics, sword-play, taiko and of course, Cosplay. While the event was rained out on Friday the festivities did continue through the rest of the weekend and I have got to say, it turned out to be better than I could have ever expected. There was a lot of love, support and smiles to be had, all while the weather hung over the weekend like a wet cloth. Much like any Fall festival out there, this one wasn’t any different. You have your arts and crafts, your yukata wearing, tea ceremony and of course, excellent food.
However this year, it was all about the Cosplay! Sunday was Cosplay Day and it sure showed because the festival attracted the attention of many local cosplayers, all with their expertly crafted outfits and dogs. The festivals support of Cosplay Day was (for the most part) a rousing success and hopefully memorable for all the attendees. While I wish that Cosplay Day was a larger focus, it still was a layer to the overall festival celebrations. The other big standout from years past was of course the kind and generous people from Isesaki, Japan.
Their kindness and hospitality honestly knows no boundaries, with one of the performers even taking part in fawning over cosplay and taking pictures with almost everyone in attendance. It’s moments like that, the small social ones, that really make for an awesome experience. It also goes to show the deeper meaning behind a cultural festival such as this one. It promotes awareness of other cultures and the people that live in those far-off countries. It is always an easy thing to imagine what a person from another country is like based purely off outdated stereotypes.
What makes for a truly impacting experience is to see them in person, to talk and engage with them. That was my focus for this festival and I was not disappointed in what I saw or who ran into. Everyone was there to have a great time, not matter what the weather had decided to throw at us. These sort of events also foster a semblance of closeness within communities, which is something I feel is forgotten on the wider stage of life. Not to say that we don’t share in celebration for other cultures, it just shouldn’t have to be relegated towards a singular day.
Rather it should be joyfully celebrated whenever and wherever, but that is what these events succeed at. They get us to open our eyes and enjoy what culture we have in our world and the Springfield Japanese Fall Festival is just a small part in a larger spectrum of celebration. If you were ever on the fence about going then you should try to visit the garden on an off day. It is a relaxing experience and the money goes right back into the parks and funding larger fall festivals down the road.
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