After 5: Taste of Japan

This year's Japanese Fall Festival will offer a little taste of Disney.

Two regular performers at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., will headline the Springfield Sister Cities Association's 14th annual Japanese Fall Festival on Sept. 11-13.

Japanese storyteller and illusionist Kuniko Yamamoto and professional candy artist Miyuki Sugimori will perform in the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Ave.

The nonprofit Sister Cities Association - which connects Springfield citizens with Isesaki, Japan, and Tlaquepaque, Mexico, through cultural exchanges - is partnering with the Springfield-Greene County Park Board for the weekend event.

Kuniko is known for her Japanese pantomime, dance and music sprinkled with magic. She's spent the last decade traveling the U.S., performing at such venues as The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., and Disney's Epcot Japanese Pavilion, according to

Miyuki sculpts taffy-like candy into animals, flowers and other shapes and decorates with paint and accessories before sticking the finished product onto a chopstick. She has demonstrated her candy art designs, called amezaiku, on "The Rosie O'Donnell Show" and The Food Network, and she is scheduled to perform at the Greater Kansas City Japan Festival the weekend after visiting Springfield.

A sneak peek of their works is available at, where YouTube links under the News tab show performances by the artists.

Other festival performers are coming in from St. Louis: Taiko drumming group Osuwa Taiko and traditional Japanese top spinner Hiroshi Tada. Osuwa Taiko is a nonprofit group dedicated to the historic Japanese art of drumming; literally translated, taiko is "big fat drum," according to The group will be playing at the Missouri Botanical Garden before coming to Springfield, where performances are scheduled for 1 and 7 p.m. Sept. 12 and 1 p.m. Sept. 13.

Local martial artists and Japanese traditions, including sword demonstrations, and a tea ceremony also are highlighted in Springfield's Japanese Fall Festival. Ceremonies kick off 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 with a children's parade.

Ramen-making robots cut cooks out of the food equation

Who needs humans? At a ramen noodle shop in Nagoya, Japan, a pair of robotic arms serve up 80 bowls of noodles a day to their hungry customers. They never get tired and they don't need tips.

Of course, one could argue that there's no art in a robot making food. But with some types of food, no art is needed. You think people at McDonalds are putting their own unique spin on burgers? No. Which is why, eventually, robots will be doing all the work at fast food restaurants. Because a robot never spit in a burger.