CLEVELAND, Miss. — Delta State University’s Japan Outreach Initiative is hosting the first Japan Festival in the Mississippi Delta October 4 through 8 at Jobe Hall. The festival will feature Japanese movie screenings, a taiko (Japanese drumming) performance, a lecture on Japanese ghost tales, fun cultural tables, and more. The event is open to DSU staff, students and the general public and admission is free.
Mizuki Umebara, DSU’s Japan Outreach Initiative Coordinator said, “It was one of my dreams as a Japan Outreach Coordinator to make a big cultural event. I am very excited that this came true thanks to many people’s supports and interests.”
This event is supported by the Student Success Center, Japan Foundation New York, Mississippi Humanities Council, Cleveland Exchange Club, Delta Arts Alliance, Visit Cleveland Mississippi, Delta State University, and Japan Outreach Initiative, as well as individual sponsors and community members. Michelle Johansen, Assistant Coordinator of International Student Services said, “The International Student Services office appreciates the partnerships with campus, local, state, and national organizations to create the first Japan Festival in the Mississippi Delta. The willingness of organizations to sponsor events, volunteer on the weekend, and provide support for the festival is indicative of Ms. Umebara’s deep impact during her time in Mississippi.”
Umebara said, “In the festival, there are many fun activities and intriguing contents for everybody to enjoy. I hope visitors will find Japan closer and more familiar through the event.”
Films will be screened each evening, and the cultural tables and games will be open on the weekend. Umebara said, “On weekdays, we will focus on movie screenings. Saturday and Sunday are the biggest parts of the festival. Saturday has fun game and culture tables as well as the drum performance, so it is perfect for all ages especially for families with small kids. Sunday focuses on Japanese history and society, so it would be suitable for people with more interest in an academic lecture.”
The drum performance will feature Japanese independent professional Taiko performer Mr. Kato, and his three sons. Umebara said, “Mr. Kato and his sons come from California to perform at DSU. Mr. Kato won the grand prize in the Big Japanese drum category of the 7th Tokyo International Wadaiko Competition. He has performed in front of their Majesties, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, at the opening ceremony of the 67th National Games. He has also performed for the leaders of the 16 national leaders attending at the 7th Pacific Islands Summit.”
The lecture Sunday on “A History and Culture of Japanese Ghost Tales” will be led by Dr. Fumiko Joo from Mississippi State University. The presentation introduces Japanese ghost stories from the 17th to the mid-19th centuries, along with the historical and religious circumstances that surround them.
The culture tables will have an information table about Japanese tourism, a samurai armor try-on photo booth, kimono exhibit, and gaming tables. The gaming tables will feature popular and common summer festival games in Japan. Umebara said, “Water balloon fishing, chopstick challenge and ring toss are very popular.”
Sunday will feature the lone culinary experience with Japanese tea vendor Camillia’s NovelTEA’s popup booth. Click here for the complete schedule, or for more information, contact Mizuki Umebara, Delta State’s Japan Outreach Initiative Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.