It’s an event that truly indulges on many aspects of Japanese culture, so whether you’re a lover of fashion, an avid gamer or an anime aficionado, there will be something there for everyone!
This was my first Hyper Japan event, and I must say from the moment I stepped inside Earls Court 1, the wonderful sensory overload of sights and sounds made me giddy. If for only a moment, it was if Japan had materialised right before me, and I didn’t even have to get on a plane to experience it!
Opening day of Hyper Japan encapsulated such an expressed positive atmosphere that set the tone for the entire weekend. Even when the event got busy, there was no severe overcrowding, and people could navigate around with fair ease. Hyper Japan staff were incredibly helpful and kept things handled efficiently (On a side note, I did attend generally for the Saturday morning session, and the queuing session was exceptionally well managed and staff kept things moving nicely while preventing too much human congestion!)
Earls Court 1 is a fair size, and exhibitors’ tables and stages were sent out into many different areas, with an excellent amount of walking space between to accommodate the crowds. There were so many wonderful things on show to buy, I had to have some restraint in many areas – though I wish I hadn’t!
To guide you, there was a pamphlet with map available to get you where you wanted to be (and if you didn’t have it at hand, there were plenty of posters about to assist you.) It just has such a well organised air about it all!
It was also nice to see many members of the public getting into the spirit of things and coming to cosplay as various characters, and also many who wore Lolita inspired dress wear. There were not as many as I would have expected, but then again, it was a Friday so most were probably waiting to use the weekend to go full costume crazy! Though, to give a mention, it was great to see the likes of large costumed Pacman and the Mario Brothers around the event. Really made my day!
My wanders around Hyper Japan took me into many exciting and visually inspiring areas. You barely step through the front doors before you reach the gaming area, showcasing some of the latest games from companies such as Bandai Namco and Nintendo. Though, the only gaming I took part in was the ‘DARTSLIVE’ – even won a wristband for good participation! Yay!
Moving along further and you would find yourself in the culture and crafts area where there were beautiful displays of traditional styled clothes, as well as beautiful handmade trinkets to admire and purchase – I found myself particularly drawn to the creations of Tina Okuhara (-kimeya-) and Asako Satoh (Usako), the former with a disconcerting though fun take on antique crafts (eyes were a predominant theme!), and the latter who had the sweetest array of badges and bookmarks.
In between my admiring and photographing, I took time out to try some of the wonderful food on offer in the ‘Eat Japan’ section, which provided a large selection of tasty meals across the stalls. This was probably one of the busiest areas, as over a course of hours there were steady moving queues waiting to get their taste of Japanese cuisine. When I ventured over for food, it was sushi that took my fancy, and I tasted a lovely selection, including mackerel nigiri, which I’d never had before! A particular shout out to ‘Feng Sushi’ for making some absolutely delectable onigiri, many of which I took away from the event to feast upon at my leisure.
Oh, I shouldn’t forget having tasted wonderful matcha (Green Tea) chocolate. It had such a wonderful flavour!
Speaking of food, there was a food and drink demonstration area where you could watch and learn from experts on producing your own favourite Japanese food at home. I managed to catch part of a session giving a demo of how to make some tasty sushi – and at that time, they were showing how to prepare ISO (Inside Out) Rolls, which had audience participation at the counter. They made it seem so easy! (Alas, I just don’t have the knack for it!)
There were so many spectacles around the event that you could stop and take in. There were numerous stages set up to accommodate all the different types of acts and talks. On the fringe stage, I sat down to performances by the wonderful Japanese singers Miou – might I add, dazzling in her yellow and green kimono – and the lovely Mayuko! Miou had such a wonderful undercurrent of traditionalism in her singing and music, while Mayuko beautifully projected a fantastic taste of modern Japanese ballad-like singing. They epitomized a fantastic range of music styles, and caught the attention of their gathered audiences with ease.
On the main stage, I took the chance to sit down to watch the techno extravaganza by ‘SIRO-A’ a fantastic group of men whose teamwork creates such an immersive visual experience using light, expertly timed choreography and digital projection. There were moments of emotive dance, which included a section where they creatively used visual effects to make it seem like one man was performing a selection of different actions, but as he moved between them, left a shadow behind to continue performing that action. The transition was near enough flawless. And it was nicely rounded off by the joining of the shadows into a multicoloured wave spreading out behind the performer, mimicking his motions in such a psychedelic optical display. Between such parts, they incorporated well timed comedy elements, including a moment that engaged audience interaction, where they had a few people say a word or a sound which they turned into a bizarre but entertaining version of ‘We Will Rock You’. Thoroughly entertaining to see put together! From where I sat at the side seating towards the stage, I got to see behind some of the visual illusion, just to view how some of it worked, and it was still just as enthralling just to see how it was so well organised and how in tune each member of the group was with each other to pull off everything with such precise efficiency. I highly recommend you going to see their performance at the Leicester Square Theatre, where they will be from 23rd September 2014 until 11th January 2015.
At the end of my experience, I came away from Hyper Japan with such satisfaction and appreciation that such an event had been put together to cater to all the wants and needs of fans of all things Japanese. (Okay and I came away with a cute little alpaca from the ‘LoveJojo’ stall! I couldn’t leave without purchasing a little memento!) The variety and organisation was awe-inspiring, so much so that I know for certain I will be back again for all the wonders that Hyper Japan will have to offer in the future!
Don’t forget the Hyper Japan Christmas Market will be on 14th – 16th November 2014 at the Olympia, London. Clear you calendar and make time to return or even pay your first visit to the event! You don’t want to miss it!
Please visit the official Hyper Japan website to keep up with event news and information: – http://hyperjapan.co.uk/
A LITTLE BIT OF EXHIBITOR SPOTLIGHTING!
The Naked Lace Company – Sailor Fuku
Run by Sarah Cant, The Naked Lace Company produces an assortment of handmade fashion crafts for Cosplay and Lolita styles. The store on Etsy has a fine display of items ranging from eye catching bows to embroidered lacy collars.
Their ‘Sailor Fuku’ range, which has been a part of the store for an estimated year and a half, takes inspiration from Japan’s popular sailor school uniforms, as well as from the extremely popular manga/anime Sailor Moon! (It’s certainly what caught my attention!) The products within the range are the distinctive collars and bows in many various colours! Made of durable cotton, they are designed to be worn on any type of clothing!
They have recently expanded into Men’s and Children’s items, and hope in the future to expand to include shirts and skirts, as well as an increasing array of colours.
Want to make your own Sailor Moon or Japanese school uniform cosplay? You needn’t go further to find the perfect additions to your costume!
Clover Lee (CRINS)
Clover Lee is a freelance Manga artist who had a fine display of her beautiful original and fan works on display at Hyper Japan. Also, she had a beautiful display of handmade pottery, a keen display of her diverse artistic skill. Having drawn for many years as a hobby, she started to produce and publish her own manga within the last five years.
Even though she has created such beautiful fan pieces from such series as Sailor Moon and Attack on Titan, she prefers producing as much original work as possible. One particular at the forefront is her original romance manga, ‘Give Me Your Hand’, which has chapters covering individual characters that will eventually come together to form one end. This manga is well into its run, with further characters to be covered along the line – you can find further information and see art for this manga as well as her fan works on her deviantart page listed below.
She may also be commissioned for wonderful black and white manga portraits at an event she is attending or via her deviantart page; all this information, again, can be found her deviantart page. Please check out her exceptional work!
Le Petit Four
Run by the lovely ‘AngelicLight’, she has been creating her cute little products for three years, drawing inspiration from her time as a pastry chef in Germany to construct such tantalising little products, so authentic in design you’ll want to nibble on them! (It’s probably not a good idea! For the eyes only, I’m afraid!)
The product is a very new commodity in Germany, and has particularly boomed in popularity! She has had to frequently create new and bedazzling designs to stay on top of the buzzing market! Her particular favourite of her creations are the characterised picture frames – a wonderful display piece for any chic home! Check it out on her shop, the web address is listed below.
She is trying to expand her sweet creations into the UK marketplace – with such exceptional quality products of such an adorable nature, I’m sure it won’t be long before she captures the hearts of many a fan of pretty little crafts!
Images & logos are © to Hyper Japan and all their respective owners.
Photography © MayDay.