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Cultural Engagement >>

Cultural Performance

While modern Japanese media culture has been a major focus for us, we also love to be able to engage and offer many other aspects of Japanese traditional and modern culture for our attendees. In order to do so, we partner with many local and national organizations and individuals to bring enhanced cultural engagement opportunities to our JAFAX events. Please spend some time viewing the groups and individuals we have partnered with in the past and hope to bring back for future events as well.

Soga Center Outreach

Soga Japan Center - Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University's Soga Japan Center is an interdisciplinary unit designed to promote knowledge of Japan to the WMU community, the city of Kalamazoo and all of southwestern Michigan. The Soga Japan Center regularly brings scholars, artists and writers to campus to give Japan-related lectures, demonstrations and readings to students, faculty and the surrounding community. The Soga Japan Center also hosts film series, displays, musical performances and other fun events related to Japanese culture.

JAFAX for several years now has partnered with the Soga Japan Center to have their team host panels, classes, and demonstrations at the convention to further promote Japanese culture, society, and language throughout the community.

Further info about them can be found on their website:

Swordsmanship Museum

Swordsmanship Museum and Academy

The Swordsmanship Museum and Academy is an educational facility located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, that is dedicated to sharing the histories and cultures of the world through the amazing history of the tools of war and the conflicts surrounding them. The weapons originally designed to split us in half are now being used to bring us together! They will be bringing a special traveling museum to JAFAX featuring artifacts and replicas of the warriors of Japan and other regional cultures, as well as a special panel discussion. Get up close and personal with some of the Museum's most fascinating artifacts, including original katana blades, antique kusarigama, armor pieces, and more!

Learn more about this amazing organization on their website:

Taiko Dummers

Taiko Drumming

We bring in professional Taiko Drummers to provide attendees with an unique and awe-inspiring  performance of traditional Japanese Taiko Drumming. The group has been performing at JAFAX since 2018 and we hope to bring them back again in 2025 to introduce more attendees to this amazing musical Japanese art form. They are taking a break for the 2024 event.

Aikido Demonstration


Last year we partnered with the local Yushinkan Dojo who provided demonstrations of this modern martial way that was developed in Japan in the early 20th century. They also provided hands-on introductory training in the martial art to interested attendees during interactive panels at JAFAX.

Sumo Demonstration


Professional sumo, known for its enormous competitors and colorful Shinto rituals can only be found in Japan. However, the amateur side of the sport is practiced worldwide by people of all sizes and genders. Grand Rapids Sumo Club members have faced fierce wrestlers from all over the world at several big tournaments around the US, including Nationals and the US Sumo Open. The club hosted hosted The 2nd Annual Riverfront Sumo Open at JAFAX in 2023 and discussions are taking place with regards to them returning to JAFAX for 2024.

Katsura Sunshine - Rakugo

Rakugo Performance by Katsura Sunshine

At JAFAX 2023 we were able to introduce Grand Rapids, MI to the incredible traditional Rakugo performance by world famous Katsura Sunshine. Rakugo is a form of traditional, formal entertainment where a lone storyteller sits on a raised platform and uses minimal props to enrapture an audience. Katsura Sunshine was the 15th apprentice to the great Rakugo Master Katsura Bunshi VI. JAFAX was honored to host the renowned storyteller in 2023 and hope to bring him back in the future.

Lex Winter

Japanese Cultural Anthropologist Lex Winter

Lex Winter has spent the last 14 years of their life devoted to not only Japan (and its history, monsters, and culture) but also to building their own base of knowledge from which they can draw upon to teach others. Lex has lectured at many cons, universities, and libraries on all manners of fandom, culture, folklore, and anything else that strikes their fancy, in hopes of bringing new perspectives and points of view to the appreciation of Japanese animation, culture, history, and everything else associated with it.

Lex has been presenting at JAFAX for almost a decade now and we hope they will return in 2025 to continue to spread appreciation for Japanese culture and entertainment. They will not be attending in 2024 due to scheduling conflicts.

GRAPF - Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Festival

Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Foundation

Since 2018 JAFAX has been proud to partner with the Grand Rapids Asian Pacific Festival and Foundation to help bring appreciation not just Japanese but all Asian culture to the Grand Rapids area. JAFAX and GRAPF partner in promotional activities and content to help each other bring  together community engagement in the downtown area.

Please check out their website to learn more about this outstanding community organization:

Samurai Dan

Samurai Dan

Samurai Dan has been training and teaching the martial science of the Samurai warriors for over 25 years. Founder of the Samurai Combative Concepts organization, Dan travels the US and Canada, dedicated to keeping the arts of Japan's greatest warriors alive. Aided by his amazing wife Jillian, and their honorable Akitas, the dynamic duo teach a variety of classes and lectures at events everywhere. 

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