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If your idea of Japanese culture consists solely of teenagers dressing up as schoolgirls and shinobi and eating Pocky while watching stuff on CrunchyRoll, then you probably spend too much time on Kotaku, and should come to the annual Japanese Festival to learn about the more traditional, but still equally interesting, side of Japanese culture. (If you actually are into the stuff mentioned, you’ll want to go to NatsuCon). This event is hosted every Labor Day weekend in the Missouri Botanical Garden and brings together an impressive showcase of Japan’s artistic offerings. Various Japanese food vendors congregate at the Garden to bring you treats such as takoyaki (grilled octopus ball) and yakisoba (Japanese stir fried noodles). Martial artists and dancers come from all over the region to demonstrate their skills as well, making the festival a must-see spectacle. The festival also has interactive elements, as festival-goers are welcome to try their hand at ikebana (flower arrangement) and origami (paper folding) under the watchful guidance of experts. No matter what you are into, whether it be the culinary arts, fashion, or just expanding your cultural boundaries, however, there is bound to be something for everybody at the Japanese Festival. Dates: Late August.

— Francis W., M1