JCI Guests


Aeric HolbrookAeric Holbrook

For Aeric, it all started when he got hooked on early morning anime as an elementary school kid, which led to active volunteering at conventions, study abroad in Japan, and a Bachelor’s degree in Japanese Studies. While working with Japan affiliated projects and organizations, he became a Committee Chair for the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival and received a research-focused Master’s degree in International Education focusing on Japan. Having managed a number of Japanese educational and exchange programs, he most enjoyed working with students and their interests in Japan. With a background in internationalization, study abroad, and media/pop culture, Aeric plans to take their adventures further in academia and public scholarship. On the side, he has fun visiting conventions and sharing his experiences and research with all. Find more about Japan, pop culture, and media at aericsays.com or Aeric’s twitter account: @aericsays_

Charles DunbarCharles Dunbar

Charles Dunbar is a fan of many things, of which anime and Japanese culture are but one (admittedly large) sphere. After discovering the medium through Dragonball Z in high school, he spent his formative college years indulging in giant robots, Pokemon, JRPGs, and Rurouni Kenshin, never expecting his coursework in cultural anthropology to ever intersect with his burgeoning fandom identity. This was only the first of many instances when the Universe decided to troll him hardcore for his obliviousness. After spending years attending his local SF con, Charles began attending anime cons in earnest in 2007, bumping them up drastically while undertaking fieldwork for his MA in Anthropology, where he researched and wrote on fandom, convention culture, and the changing dynamic of anime fan practices. He never stopped attending, coming back year after year to both indulge his love of anime conventions, and educate his fellow fans on all manner of mythology, Japanese sacred culture, fan cultures, and whatever else grabs his interests. He is currently working concurrently on two books related to these pursuits, dabbling in game scripts, writing his own ghost stories inspired by the folklore he devours, and traveling around the country speaking at conventions, libraries, and the occasional university. You can read his ideas and ruminations at www.studyofanime.com or via his Twitter @studyofanime.


Chin HamayaChin Hamaya

Chin Hamaya Culture Center, Inc. began in the United States in 2010. In 2004, The Chin Family moved to Okinawa, Japan (by orders of the USMC) and discovered a love for the culture and country. They began training in the martial arts of Seidokan Karate and Taiko Drumming. They were able to come to the United States with their Okinawan taiko group in 2008 to perform at the Kennedy Center and the National Cherry Blossom Festival. While in Okinawa, Rodd and Cole were able to become professional shisa dancers (the dragon or lion dog). They were the first Americans to be asked to do so. The Okinawan people presented a Shisa to the Chin family with the colors of purple and white to represent peace and unity in hopes that they would continue to share the Okinawan and Japanese cultures. This is the only Okinawan made shisa to ever leave the island. Upon arriving back in the United States they began their dream of “Peace through understanding each other’s culture.”

To date they have 30 performers of all ages and abilities in Waldorf, MD, 55 performers in Rockville, MD and we are currently forming a group in Virginia Beach, VA with 42 new members! Currently the students range in between the ages of 5 to 85.

Chin Hamaya Culture Center, Inc. supports cultural and educational activities that bring to light the richness and diversity of Okinawan, Japanese and other cultures. Included in this mission is the dedication to foster community among the diverse cultures and those persons interested in cultural heritage. Chin Hamaya Culture Center, Inc. is a base to utilize, enjoy, learn and discover cultures from around the world.
Chin Hamaya Culture Center, Inc. has performed in places such as The National Cherry Blossom Festival, the Kennedy Center, Adams Morgan Festival, the National Zoo, Woodrow Wilson Plaza, Japanese Commerce Association New Year, for the Japanese Ambassador, the Pakistan Festival, National Mother Language Day, Annandale After Dark in the Park, La Plata Summer Concert Series, Artsfest, Fiesta Asia, Macy’s, Bloomingdales, Otakon Anime Convention, Nekocon Anime Convention, T-Mode Anime Convention, Katsucon Anime Convention, Fair Oaks Mall, Towson University, University of MD, Georgetown University, American University plus many schools doing Educational Programs. We have even been blessed to teach and perform for President Obama’s children. These are just a few of the places that we go to “Peace through understanding each other’s culture.”

biophoto_perryChristine Perry

Whether you are looking for a jumpstart to your Japanese language studies or a refresher for your continuing study, Christine welcomes you and hopes you will walk away from her discussion hall entertained and with a deeper understanding of Japanese language, culture, and the unique intersection of both. With a degree in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies and a career that carries her around the world, she believes that immersive learning and intercultural understanding plays a key role in not only speaking and listening in a language, but communicating as a whole. Her goal is to put you on the path to not just speaking Japanese, but communicating with Japanese people. She can’t wait to meet you at Katsucon 2017!



GabrielDjinnGabriel Djinn Sensei
Sandan Atarashii Naginata

Naginata is defined as a Japanese martial art of both power and grace characterized by the grandeur of its sweeping arm and body movements while using a bladed weapon. Naginata dates back to feudal Japan as a battlefield weapon of the Samurai. Today, the art is practiced around the world. In Japan the art is dominated by women, outside of Japan it is largely unisex. This is one aspect that makes it very unique amongst martial arts as most martial arts require a certain level of physical capability and strength.

Djinn Sensei’s beginnings were, like many of us, inspired in childhood by movies to start martial arts. Once he started, he became fascinated by the culture and history of Japanese Martial Arts. Djinn Sensei has been practicing martial arts for over 30 years. For over the last 15 years he has focused on Naginata. He has competed at the national and international level. Currently Djinn Sensei holds classes in Manassas Park, Virginia at the Community Center.

“All of my Naginata students learn the foundational aspects of the martial arts: respect, control and self-discipline. This is done in tandem with learning the physical aspects of the art. The mental and physical growth are not separated as they are symbiotic. I can teach the physical aspects. The maturity and confidence grows over time.”

” I truly love the art of Naginata and it brings me joy to watch my students grow as both martial artists and people. This is the reason I teach- to convey the tradition and love for Naginata.”

Outside of the dojo, Djinn Sensei is a regional trainer for a well known electronics company. He is married to his wife and best friend whom he met in 2000. They have two teenage children and the whole family is involved with Naginata.


Japan-in-a-Suitcase is a free program which packs a little bit of Japan in a suitcase and brings it to children at schools, libraries and festivals in the greater Washington, DC area. This program promotes understanding of Japan and Japanese culture to school children from kindergarten and up through presentations, hands-on activities, games and demonstrations. In the past, JiS has also visited the Japanese Ambassador’s residence, the U.S. Department of State, and the Library of Congress for Japanese culture-related educational programs.
Presenters: Melissa Tolentino, Sunny Zhang

Katie ChaplinKatie Chaplin

Katie is flying over to Katsucon for the 4th time from England, to teach some awesome traditional Japanese crafts. Since becoming fascinated by Japanese culture and textiles at the age of 18, Katie has learned a lot and is eager to share her knowledge and skills with you! Katie’s classes usually attract long lines well ahead of their scheduled start time, and there are only 24 spaces per class, so please come early if you want a place! Pop along anyway, as there will also be a selection of kits and materials for purchase during class times, and you are always welcome to come along and watch.




KatrielPaigeKatriel Paige

Since their first presentation on Japanese folklore in 2004, Katriel Paige has studied the intersections of folklore, religion, and aspects of culture both within and without Japan – from researching Shinto practices to researching online communities and fandom dynamics. They have an MA in Intercultural Communication with International Business from the University of Surrey (UK), BAs in English and East Asian Studies, and currently work in tech.





Kuniko KanawaRev. Kuniko Kanawa sensei

Rev. Kuniko Kanawa sensei is an owner of Atelier Kanawa, the earth friendly studio which she offers traditional Japanese cultural services as a certified Kimono consultant, Kimono model, founder of Washington D.C. Kimono Club, Edo Tsumami Kanzashi artisan, and also a certified Shinto priestess.
In 2007, Kuniko officially became a certified Kimono consultant of All Japan Kimono Consultant Association after graduating from Sodo Reiho Kimono College. Since obtaining this certificate is approved by the Ministry of Education/Science and Economy/Industry, she has been offering the Kimono dressing services, Kimono photo shoot, instructing Kimono classes/workshops, and producing Kimono fashion shows/dressing demonstration, academic Kimono lectures and so on. She also works as a Kimono model, treasuring six years of classical Japanese dance training under Hanayagi style by the great instruction of Mme. Wakana Hanayagi sensei.
In the same year, she became a professional Edo Tsumami Kanzashi artisan through intensive training by a designated master Kazuyo Hozumi, the one of only few designated Edo Tsumami Kanzashi artisans in Japan. As a successor to preserve this disappearing traditional handicraft, she creates both traditional and modern designed Tsumami Kanzashi, including custom orders. Her beautiful creations can be purchased online at http://atelierkanawa.com. She occasionally participates Arts&craft shows. She has offered monthly classes/workshops at many venues such as Japan-America Society of Washington D.C. and Carrol County Arts Council, annually workshop at many Anime conventions. She currently accepts private students only.
In early 2013, she founded Washington D.C. Kimono Club. The Club welcomes her Kimonos students who loves / sincerely respect Kimono, Japanese seasonal culture, traditional Japanese custom/manners, and Kimono decorum. Members can participate in Japanese seasonal cultural events in Kimono, attend Washington D.C. Kimono Club’s special workshops, and model at her Kimono fashion shows/dressing demonstrations.
In October 2015, Rev. Kuniko Kanawa humbly became a certified Shinto priestess through Ama-no-Iwakura-Jingu, the independent Shinto shrine in Horoshima prefecture. Through deeply pursuing the traditional Japanese culture because of her profession, she was naturally guided to this path to rediscover Shinto, the indigenous religion of Japan, a core heart / soul of Japanese culture / spirituality. Now she offers Shinto ceremonies / rituals, such as Shinto wedding, Shichi-go-san, Shinnen-sai / Hatsu-moude (New Year prayer), Seijinshiki(Coming of age ceremony) , Anime convention opening ceremony, Jomakushiki(Unveiling stature ceremony), Shokuju-sai(Planting trees), Omiya-mairi (first visit of Shinto shrine with a new born baby), and Misogi (purification practice which involves running water). She also offers Shinto lectures.

rvaRobert V Aldrich

Robert V Aldrich returns once again to host a passel of panels for the JCI here at Katsucon. When not talking about Japanese culture or teaching martial arts, RVA will be at his table promoting his newest book, RocKaiju, as well as all the fun stories at his website TeachTheSky.com.”



chibi-tea-trioThe Comiku Girls

The Comiku Girls, Akiko Meigetsu & Li Izumi & Janel Norris, are past celebrating their 10-year anniversary attending the convention circuit along the eastern seaboard and beyond. Each has had a pencil (or brush) in their hand since they could hold one, & have been telling stories since they could talk. At conventions, they are artists, cosplayers, fairies & Japanese cultural panelists. In 2004, we debuted our popular Japanese Tea Ceremony Panel, and have continued to create unique panel options in the decade since. Akiko is an artist, working in both digital and traditional media (watercolor and Asian Brushpainting). Li has studied Japanese language & culture is for over a decade, including a semester in Akita, Japan. Janel is herself a fairy, as well as an artist, jewelry-maker, and costumer.

Akiko has a Ph.D. in Biology from Duke University. She has studied Brush Painting with Chinese master, Cong Yuan, and watercolors with artist Luna Lee Ray. She has been painting in water media for more than a decade.

Li has a B.A. in East Asian Studies and a Master’s degree in Classical Japanese Language and Literature from University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She spent 4 months in Akita, Japan living and going to school, where she studied, among other things, how to wear a kimono, calligraphy, and tea ceremony.

Janel has a BA in Fine arts/ Illustration. Janel has studied under Rebecca Guay, Scott Fischer, Dan Dos Santos and Brian and Wendy Froud. She has spent the last 10 years perfecting her costuming and design skills and now specializes in bringing the clothes, creatures, and costumes of fantasy worlds to life. Her costumes have been exhibited in many fashion shows as well as the Springfield Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum.