Tuesday, 4 December 2012

The One Where I Went To Hyper Japan 2012

You ever notice that in TV episodes the characters rarely go anywhere other than work and home and that one bar/cafe they always go to? My life began to feel a bit like that lately, as I was going from home to work, to home and back again. But the weekend before last I actually stepped outside my door for a non-work and non-grocery shopping reason: Hyper Japan 2012.

Adore the designs on the fabric in the background.

For those who don't know, Hyper Japan is a bi-annual event held in London that exhibits many different facets of Japan and its culture. Okay, by and large it's lots of men and women dressed up as Anime characters, but it tries to include a bit of Japanese music (not just J-Rock, in case you're wondering), art, technology and just general Japanese awesomeness.

Toy cats. Popular in Japan. Or at least with
people who like Japan.
I've been a big fan of Japanese culture since... well forever really. A number of the cartoons I watched as a kid were Japanese, and that lead to an inevitable love affair with Anime and Manga. I still adore the drawing style, even if the quality of new Anime productions is sporadic at best. I had loads of them on VHS (yes, I am that old) and am still in mourning for the fact I can't watch The Records of Lodoss War, as it hasn't yet been released in the UK on DVD or Blu-ray. Manga Entertainment, one of the few distributors of Anime in the UK, was at Hyper Japan and I almost had a word, but thought better of it. I suspect they have to put up with enough interesting characters at an event like that without one more crazy lady added to the mix.

Noodles and treats galore.
Video games were of course another avenue into Japanese products, and when I was a teenager I became fascinated with Geishas; historically they were some of the best educated women in Japan and their whole world was incredibly matriarchal. And yet, at times, they would be sold to a high bidder for sexual services (though the idea that Geishas are prostitutes is a whole world of wrong). They are an enigma, which makes them all the more interesting.

Samurai Sword artists, Kamui. The guy in the middle (grey top)
was in Kill Bill. They were amazing and are
worth looking out for.
One day I plan to go to Japan - specifically Tokyo and Kyoto. If I can see those cities I will die a happy woman. In the meantime I have to go to things like Hyper Japan and dream. But I did get to bring a friend home with me at least; a very soft and cuddly Moogle. He now sits with my Totoro and they seem very happy together.* The exhibit also had a number of wonderful food stalls (I ate octopus and, I am slightly ashamed to say, it was lovely. Sorry Octopi, you're just so tasty.) There were also plenty of video games on show, and best of all a demonstration of Samurai sword fighting, by the same people involved with Kill Bill. All in all, much fun was had, and I would definitely go again.

A tiny example of how impressive a number of the cosplay
outfits were. The guy behind her had red contact lenses in.
That's dedication.
I should say here that though I love Japanese culture I am all too aware of it's darker sides. The high suicide rate. The (still) prevalent attitude that women are not the go-getters men are - though that's changing there, as elsewhere. And of course, the pointless and selfish murdering of whales... But to love a thing, to really love it, you have to see it for all it is and all it isn't, the good and the bad. Otherwise, it's just a fantasy.

*If you're thinking, "What in the world is a Moogle? Or a Totoro for that matter?!" I suggest looking at the links. You will be wiser for it. And here is a picture of my very own Moogle and Totoro:

Cheese! Kupo!


  1. First of all, I love Japan. I used to teach there and am going to return there someday to do so again.

    Second, what you describe is the veritable rut of life we all find ourselves in lest we are careful.

    I am ever planning trips somewhere. Last weekend I went scuba diving (and drinking afterwards lol) in Puerto valera, Philippines. I think I am still tired!

    Good to get out, isn't it? make a habit of it.


  2. Hi,

    I came across this site by accident. Just letting you know keep writing. I write dark, edgy fiction, and I ghostwrite and I have become published in both genres. I also even act as a literary agent at this point as well. Drop me a line at brianwhitneywriting if you wish to discuss anything.

    Oh and I am a gamer as well. Ha.