From a look at how Godzilla became a cultural icon to an introduction to anime, a film festival, and presentations on the history, culture and cuisine, the Japan Semester at Missouri Southern State University will have something for everyone.

It marks the second time Missouri Southern’s themed semester programming has focused on the country. The first time was two decades ago, says Dr. Chad Stebbins, director of the Institute of International Studies.

“People seem fascinated and intrigued by Japanese culture,” he said.

Including the Japanese Film Festival (which will be split between screenings in Plaster Hall’s Cornell Auditorium and Bookhouse Cinema), more than 40 events are planned this year. The schedule includes a focus on Tateho Ozark Technical Ceramics, a Japanese company located in Webb City (Sept. 9); an introduction to anime (Sept. 17);  as well as performances and a workshop by the Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater (Oct. 13)

“Probably the most unique thing we’re doing is a special Japan Day, which will be held from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 23,” said Stebbins.

“It will be more for the community than our own students and will include workshops and demonstrations such as a tea ceremony, flower arranging and bonsai, Taiko drummers from Kansas City, a samurai sword performance and a kimono fashion show. We’ve never done anything like this before.”

Art exhibitions and lectures will focus on topics such as Japanese internment camps during WWII; life in postwar Japan; the country’s religious traditions and more contemporary history.

Hosted by Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, a book club will focus on two titles this fall: “The Memory Police,” an award-winning 2019 novel by Yoko Ogawa; and “They Called Us Enemy,” a graphic memoir by George Takei. Ogawa will participate in a Zoom conversation about her novel on Oct. 28.

For a full schedule of events, visit