KC Japan Festival: a look at the all-day cultural experience

The Kansas City Metro Japan Festival will run tonight until 7:30 p.m. with a multitude of cultural exhibitions. For a glimpse into the festival, we reviewed three of the offered attractions.

Natasha Vyhovsky, Editor-in-Chief

The Kansas City Metro Japan Festival began at 10 a.m. this morning at JCCC, and it will continue its cultural demonstrations, activities, competitions and exhibitions until 7:30 p.m. tonight. I attended this event with a few BVNWnews editors from the time it opened until about 1 p.m. in order to give you the rundown on what to expect if you’re searching for something to do instead of – or before – the Homecoming dance tonight at 8 p.m. Here are synopses of just a few of the attractions:

KC Kendu Club Martial Arts Demo:

This was the first place we stopped – it was relatively boring in comparison to the other activities, but it was still a cultural experience. The attendees chose seats in the auditorium of Yardley Hall as the lights dimmed, and the performance began. The speaker was a man who stood at a podium in front of a line of participants dressed in their traditional martial arts uniforms. The participants were members of the KC Kendu Club, and they took turns breaking off into pairs to demonstrate their martial arts practice for the audience, while the speaker walked the audience through the culture, background and technique of the art. It got pretty intense at points, with the participants yelling phrases in Japanese as they hit each other (with precision and tact) with their bamboo sticks in order to gain “points.” There will be various other martial arts demonstrations throughout the day.

Japanese Candy Art (3-5 p.m., 6-7 p.m., room 211):

At the front of a brightly lit lecture hall, a candy artist works on a small table with fascinating speed and agility. The candy base she works with starts out at 200 degrees, at which point and she mixes color, puts it on a stick and then begins molding and painting. She has only has 2-3 minutes to make one piece of candy into dogs, pigs, hedgehogs, koalas and anything else customers request, so she works quickly before the candy cools down and hardens. My favorite part was her festive outfit and fun, upbeat Japanese music bumpin’ in the background, which I tried to Shazam but could not read the song title. Good thing there’s an “Intro to Reading Japanese” class at 3:30 p.m. in room 181.

Sumo Demo (All day, outside):

This was the highlight of the event. Attendees can walk up to the blue wrestling mat sitting in the grass outside, sign a waiver, slide into a huge, puffy Sumo suit and stomp, clap and bump with their pal of choice. If you are new to the art of Sumo wrestling like me, fear not: you have not one, not two, but three rounds to take your pal down. Once you pull your pal down to the mat, you can revel in a moment of victory by jumping up and slamming on them while they’re down. The personal trainer who runs this event is very nice, and he will help you move the hair out of your face and readjust your helmet since you have limited mobility in your suit.