There’s a lot to experience at Kansas City’s Japan Festival, from calligraphy workshops to displays of ancient Japanese samurai armor.
This year, you can also see a man capable of slicing off human limbs — Kill Bill style.
This year’s festival, hosted by the Heart of America Japan-America Society, will feature displays by elite Japanese martial artist Isao Machii, nicknamed “the Modern Samurai.” The Hyōgo native holds six Guinness World Records for his katana sword skills, including fastest slices of a tennis ball and BB pellet and the most slashes to rolled-up straw mats, or suegiri. To hold the record in suegiri, each cut has to be executed correctly to cleanly slice through each straw mat — the mats are favored because they’re said to offer the same resistance as a human limb.
“He is probably the most well-known laido practitioner in Japan, which is a sword martial art,” says Francis Lemery, organizer of the festival. “He has his own school near Osaka, and he developed his own style using the sword.”
Lemery says that Kansas City’s Japan Festival is one of the nation’s most elaborate, including everything from Japanese tea ceremony demonstrations and bonsai tree workshops to Japanese candy art and ikebana flower arranging.
Acting consul General Tanaka from the Chicago Japanese consulate travels to KC to attend the festival. “He said, ‘Your festival covers so much to promote and explain the Japanese culture,’” Lemery says. “It’s not just food and performances. It’s workshops and demonstrations where people can learn everything Japanese.”
GO: October 5th, 2019. Johnson County Community College, 12345 College Blvd., Overland Park, Kan. 11 am-7 pm. $15 for adults, $5 for children ages 6-12, free for children 5 and under. kcjapanfestival.org.