Anime, Travel Writing

A Hyper Japan Journey! (2017)

 

This Summer I had my first ever journey to Hyper Japan, an event that I had been highly anticipating for over a year, and it most definitely lived up to my expectations.

For those who don’t know what Hyper Japan is, it is a festival held in London, it is the UK’s largest event that celebrates Japanese culture and cuisine. It is held twice a year, in summer (Summer festival)and winter (Hyper Japan Christmas market.) At Hyper Japan you can experience live concerts by Japanese celebrities, and experience Japanese food, anime, Japanese gaming and clothing.

The day was the 14th of July. My Sister and I woke up especially early that Friday Morning so as to iron our outfits, put on our contact lenses and be super extra and kawaii for the day. The journey began as I ran to the train station with my sister and bought my London day travel card. Whilst waiting at the station we took cute selfies and then headed towards London. We got off at Limehouse and then took the DLR to Shadwell.

It was at this point that google maps told us to to walk to the venue and that it would take 4 minutes or less, however since my sister and I are hopeless at directions we had no idea which way google maps was taking us until I saw people that were dressed in cosplay or just had that ‘I-am-going-to-a-japanese-convention-vibe’ around them. We were so hyped we practically leaped on them, asking them whether they were also attending ‘Hyper Japan’ and we were delighted when they said ‘yes’.

We began exchanging names as we walked, two of the people we met there was a lovely girl that I’ll call C and a tall boy with green hair that I’ll call S. They both seemed so much more composed then my sister and myself that I assumed that they were older than us. So you can imagine my face when they told us they were 16. They were such wonderful people, so much so that we became instant friends and ended up spending the entire day together.

When we eventually reached Tobacco Dock we lined up, and I must tell you that in comparison to other events which I’ve attended the line for Hyper Japan went very quickly and smoothly. I think we barely stood for 10 minutes before the line started moving and even when it stopped it was brief.

The first thing that you’ll see when you get into Hyper Japan are the super Kawaii merch stores. They sell Japanese influenced designed shirts, anime posters, hair pins, accessories, pins, DVD’s you name it. Also as you walk around you can also see a lot of decora fashion trends and Decora girls and boys. I love Decora girls I think they’re so cute, I myself have never had the time try out the fashion trend, and I’m not sure if I could do it as successfully as I lack the experience and my make-up skills still have a long way to go. I am quite annoyed because I only attended Hyper Japan for the Friday session and I really wanted to meet Kurebayashi (an instagram star and famous Decora girl) however as much as I searched for her on Friday I wasn’t able to meet her.

There were also many cute cosplayers and general people milling around that came to enjoy the culture of the event which I met and had a great time with.

I myself bought a lot of posters, t-shirts, sake, chopsticks, pocky and some CD’s of some of the Japanese artists that I like such at the Gazette, The Age of Civil wars, and Toriena. I was especially excited that I got to meet The Age of Civil wars and Toriena at Hyper Japan, they performed live and it was so amazing, in the pictures above you can see me posing with them. I also met the lead vocalist for a band I like named Broken Doll, Sachi was so lovely and she took a group picture with myself and my friends.

Then there were the Tokyo Rickshaws!!!! They were the kindest people ever, they were so talented at singing, dancing and they were all so handsome (taking my mind out of the gutter) they were so awesome and lovely. The Hyper Japan official website describes them as— “Visit the traditional neighbourhood of Asakusa in Tokyo, and you’re sure to see rickshaws rolling around, snug tourists being pulled along by strong young men known as “shafu.” Tokyo Rickshaw is made of of four such men, who have taken the art of being “shafu” to a whole other level. Combining exciting music and acrobatics, this dance/music/acrobatic unit presents an unforgettable stage show embodying the spirit of Japanese-ness! “

Then there is also Toriena, I am mentioning her again because I absolutely love her, I don’t listen to trap or dubstep music often but when it comes to her I am all over it. Her music is just so fun to listen to and she is so kind!!! When she autographed my CD she said she liked my hat and that I was ‘kawaii!!’ I nearly died.

Then there was SHIN, former vocalist of the Visual Kei band ViViD. I was really looking forward to seeing him there on Friday, and I not only got to see him live I also got to get his autograph and he is amazing. I didn’t get a clear video of his performance but this is a very good one that an amazing human uploaded.

You know that moment of tranquility you have when you’re at home, you’re heart is at peace and you feel like you found the destination you truly belong. That is how I feel every time I attend a Japanese or anime-related event. When I am surrounded by people of like-minds, where you can freely express your interests without being judged, where you can have a good time and embrace a new culture. That was the thrilling tranquil part I loved about Hyper Japan.

And as I went home with the new friends I made that day (and my sister) I found myself determined to enjoy such an event again. When the sun set on July 14th it also set on a satisfying and fantastic day.

This was supposed to be a more controlled piece of writing, but as I’ve been busy working lately I didn’t have much time to post lately or spend writing this, so it has ended up being more of a fun post listing the great things about Hyper Japan. But I hope these list of experiences show you how fun Hyper Japan is, and you can put it on your list of festivals you want to attend.

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Anime, Travel Writing

A Journey through Comic con – 2016 (May)

Hello, I’m back again with another Comic con post.

 

 

I got a lot of nice feedback on my post ‘A Journey to Comic con- 2014’, where I described my first ever journey to Comic con (lol that statement was a bit self-explanatory).

So it motivated me to write and publish faster my second ever comic-con experience, which was some time later in 2016. This time I won’t be describing the journey to the venue since it was the same Convention so the route is also the same, but I will describe the stalls I went to, the events, and the amazing people I met.


The day was the 25th of May 2016. Summer was here; the heat came beating down giving every British citizen a new topic for conversation and causing every Cosplayer whom were standing in the long lines to enter MCM London Comic con, to sweat inside their costumes. I remember whilst standing in one of those lines experiencing some interesting smells because of that, I was just glad that I had a nice can of deodorant on myself and that my outfit was well suited for the weather. As you can see in the pictures I was wearing a white skirt and white tank top. It was my low-budget cosplay of a female clone trooper from Star wars. (I was saving my money so please understand!)

The day began as My twin sister and I got off the train and into the line. We were excited because there was a huge haul of anime and manga that we wanted to buy, and it had been nearly two years since we’d been to a Con together. We needed this sweet reprieve to heal us from the stress of daily life.

As we got closer to the ticket barrier, which is more a table and bench where MCM volunteers/ employees take your ticket and give you a wrist band to allow easy entry and exit, I found myself talking to people in their amazing Touken Ranbu cosplays. I was kind of fawning over them, I always admire talented and  beautiful cosplayers. If you read the last post you can probably tell that I haven’t stopped being a weird fan-girl that freaks out over Cosplay, and I am determined never to change. I found myself laughing with them but just as I was about to establish the necessary bond of friendship by exchanging numbers, we had already reached the ticket area, gotten our wrist bands and my sister was dragging me away to the other exit of the convention. This was because neither of us had gone to the ATM that morning to take out cash for the con, and trust me majority of the stalls will only accept cash, you can’t go there with just your card unless your planning on window shopping.

We went to the ATM at the other end of the convention and went into the line, however a nice guy wearing a Jason mask told everyone that the machine was broken. A series of moans escaped from us all. My sister and I soon went on a hunt for the second ATM, only to find out that it was also broken. Just when we were losing hope a boy, wearing a Kuroko no basuke Cosplay, told us that lots of people were walking down the main street in hopes of finding an ATM. So following the young man my Sister and I like the adventurers we were, began our quest on the streets of London to find an ATM. Soon enough we had joined a huge crowd of cosplayers walking down a residential street that mostly consisted of apartments.

I bet the residents in the apartment buildings must of thought a parade was going on and I remember a little girl and her Father walking out of an apartment building ‘ooohing’ and ahhing’ at us as went by.

I remember that My sister and I started having a lovely conversation with a guy in a Kirito cosplay as we walked. When we finally reached the ATM, which was outside a local supermarket/convenience store, I wasn’t surprised by the massive line that awaited us. However, lines at a convention are the best, I started talking with people behind and in front of us about the new anime that had come out in the fall, winter and spring seasons and having a great laugh. This one guy had a giant boombox that was playing vocaloid music and placed it down on the side of the line, some people began break dancing. It was brilliant.

Eventually we did get to the ATM, thankfully in time to get our cash before the machine ran out. Then My sister and I raced to the food stall area where they sold traditional Japanese food like Ramen, Gyoza, or Miso soup. This food area was smack-bang in the middle of one of the busiest sections of the convention, nearby you could see stalls selling merchandise and comics. There was the huge ‘CEX’ exchange store logo near the stands where they sold DVD’s and there were also two stages nearby where they were giving talks on games/interviews and there was a stage where Kpop enthusiasts were dancing their socks off.

We were waiting for some of my sisters friends who went to her sixth-form, we’d made an arrangement to meet up with them and were going to hang out for the day. As soon as we met I shrieked, it was because one of my sisters friends were wearing a Mahouka cosplay and it suited him very well. I was really impressed. Soon we were wandering around the stalls. In one section there were many Star wars cosplayers. I met fellow Clone troopers, and many Jedi and Sith who were having intense battles.

(The one talking in the background is my sister, this is her Youtube channel where she just posts random Comic con footage :))

Soon after, as we all had different objectives of what to buy, our group split up. My sister and I wandering off, buying some anime Merch; I think we got a ton of posters from a variety of our fave series, pillow cases, key chains and lamps. Oh and of course we bought our haul of anime DVDs of our favourite series. I remember feeling annoyed because they didn’t have Arslan Senki in stock (but I later bought that in October of that year in the winter Convention- which I will get around to writing about I swear.)

We even participated in the karaoke stall, where we sang an opening for Naruto and won two anime DVDs. There we met this lovely man, though I forget his name, who was Cosplaying as a Mahou shoujo (magical girl) and we started venturing with him. Since we had bought all we wanted, way too much to carry we went to see the events together.

One of these events was my favourite utaite, Amatsuki. And he was freaking brilliant live. I have all his albums, I also have him on Spotify, and I got his picture and his autograph that day (It literally made my year.) I just love his music, it just makes me so happy and uplifts my spirits, you definitely have to check him out.

(The braided head you see at the front is me….As you can tell I was super hyped)

Then there was also Bandmaid, and I love Jrock so I was freaking hyped to see them there as well. They were so wicked live!!!

Afterwards we ate some food, regrouped with the rest of my sisters friends and ended up hanging out for the rest of the evening. Since we hadn’t got tickets for the after party we left around 6 or 7 or perhaps later, my memory is a bit foggy. I do remember that as I sat on the rocking train I hugged my sister and exclaimed, “Today was freaking EPIC!!”

And that was my Journey through Comic con.

I hope you enjoyed this account of Comic con Summer 2016. Thank you for reading.

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Anime, Travel Writing

A Journey to Comic con- 2014

 

2014, the year after Attack on Titan drove millions to insanity, the year of the horse, the year of Noragami, Kill la kill and Space Dandy was also the year that I went to my first ever Comic Con Convention. There I met the most amazing people, saw the most amazing cosplays, and even ran into my favourite Youtuber, Gigguk. I can wholeheartedly say that it was my favourite time of 2014

Going back to memories of that year, the blissful rose-coloured cherry scented times of youth. I remember I had planned this day for, what felt at the time in my 14 year old mind, an eternity. I had circled it on my Calendar and pre-ordered as well as modified my maid cosplay just for the day. It was in my birthday month and thus, for me, this comic-con was a coming of age ceremony of sorts.

The day began at 8:00 am with the ‘ding-dong-ding-dong’ of the door bell being rung as my friends, dressed to impress, gathered together at my house for the thrilling event. My Mother armed with her phone began taking pictures of us all, cooing and ahhhing as we went into all kinds of poses at the sound of ‘say cheese.’ Then after checking we all had everything, with excitement in the air and the buzz of summer on the horizon we began our journey to MCM london Comic con.

Walking to the local Tilbury train station early in the morning I’m certain we had a few glances in our direction with our unique costumes/dress sense. I definitely remember a few children that went to the local primary school cheering on my little brother who was dressed in his little knight outfit waving his plastic sword around.

At the station my Mum bought the tickets, being barely 15 at the time along with my friends, and with my brother in tow my Mother took it upon herself to be the responsible adult that would guide us along our journey to Comic con. Like an angel guiding lost souls to heaven my Mother was the definition of organised and responsible. Getting us all on the train in a timely manner as we travelled towards London.

I remember watching the rural countryside on the train transition into the urban lands of London. As modern teenagers do I began taking selfies with my friends on their blackberries and Samsung. As the train continued I remember the automated female voice saying ‘We are now approaching West Ham’, then as we looked out the window there were what felt like thousands of cosplayers or Comic con adventurers on the platform. I think they were looking for another train to the same location, some were getting on the same train we were on, as it also went to the same destination. It was a wonderful sight to see, so many dressed in wonderful cosplay, or wearing shirts/clothing that signified they were players of ‘LOL’ or ‘World of Warcraft’ and others.

I felt a sense of belonging as I gazed at that crowd. Despite never being bullied for watching Anime not many of my friends were into it, even the ‘best friends’ I was travelling with didn’t quite understand my fascination with anime in general. It was at this point when I had a comforting realisation that there were probably many that shared the same hobbies as I did. I had assumed that it was just my sister and myself  that would rush home from school just to binge watch an anime or suffer from serious withdrawal symptoms after finishing a good series. Yet as the train left West Ham and continued on its way, I felt any assumptions of strange teenage loneliness disappearing. I realised that the throbbing anticipation in my heart to get to Comic-con was a valid sensation.

After we got off at Limehouse station we practically ran to the DLR, I don’t even remember why we ran, there was no reason too. Perhaps it was because my excited 5 year old brother rushed forward first and we all ran after him in hot pursuit. Or perhaps we were running with him, caught in the heat of blood-boiling excitement that the earlier sight had brought to us.

We travelled down steep stairs, through the barriers then up onto another set of steeper stairs. My mother striding with a confident atmosphere around us, assuring us that were in the right place and on the right platform. But, what assured us more was when we spotted people that were dressed similarly to us in their elaborate and expensive cosplays that I could only ever dream of being able to afford or craft. They were laughing with each other and when we made eye contact I couldn’t help but squeal. Making new friends was definitely one of my aims in coming on this journey, and I ended up migrating to their group and chatting about anime and games. I felt intoxicated by the welcoming atmosphere.

‘Rickkkkkk-et-tat-et-tat-rickkkkk’ was the sound of the DLR as it went towards London Excel. It’s large glass windows allowing the view of the city to blossom before my eyes. It wasn’t the first time I’d been to London, I had actually been raised there until I was eleven and my family found it appropriate to move to the more rural countryside, to gain what my mother called ‘fresh air.’ Perhaps because I had been raised in London I wasn’t as excited as my friends were when we went deeper into the city. At that time, even now, I find the sight from the DLR unimpressive. Sure it’s a capital city with a large population, fancy buildings and an impressive infrastructure but, it’s dull and grey in my eyes. I’ve always been someone that liked green landscapes and a splash of colour, and London lacked that natural vibrancy for me.

As the train got closer to London Excel I remember it getting more and more packed with cosplayers, I almost felt sad for the elderly women sitting with her shopping bags, she probably had no idea what was going on. I could tell from the bewildered look on her face as the train was soon filled with people, all of us heading to the same thrilling destination.

I guess you can understand how I felt when we finally did get to the London Excel only to find that we couldn’t leave the station because the line was generally that long. The line went from the station and stretched into the venue area, which wasn’t a short distance. I remember freaking out and gaping at the sheer amount of people. Not to mention all of their gorgeous outfits was just thrilling to see. I recall a group that all had different sets of sharingan contact lenses and I practically leaped at them telling them how lovely their cosplays were and how amazing I thought they were. There were people dressed as game characters, anime characters to cartoon characters, I remember a friend that came with me, her only purpose was to meet a Youtuber, and she was practically screaming in joy because she saw a boy dressed as Finn from ‘Adventure Time’. My Mother was also enjoying herself, she is an avid ‘Supernatural’ fan, and when she saw a man cosplaying as Castiel the Angel she nearly cried.

 

I think a Comic con convention is the only place where I can honestly say that the line was the most exhilarating part of the event, because I got to meet so many fantastic people that shared the same interests with me.

And, as the sun shined down pleasantly on all of us brave Comic con adventurers alike, I found my heart quickening and jumping up and down because I had finally made it. That was how I completed my first Journey to a Comic-con.

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