Siro-A are back in town!


You may remember I blogged about a fantastic performance taking place at Leicester Square Theatre in London last year called Siro-A. The only way I can describe it is the most mind-blowing and often hilarious light/dance/techno/special effects show I’ve ever seen. The very good news is that Siro-A has returned to London for a third time and, whether or not you’ve seen or even heard of them before, they’re not to be missed.

Siro-A combines theatrical performance with experimental music and dramatic visual effects, although frankly this description doesn’t do this show justice. I can say for certain that it’s like nothing you’ll have ever seen on a London stage before. Through dance, mime and puppetry, Siro-A draw their audience right into their performance. So, if you step through the doors and one of the performers try and get you over to a suspicious looking photo booth, just go with it. I won’t tell you why as it’ll spoil the surprise…

Siro-A’s one hour show is a mixture of mind-blowing dance sequences, comedy acts and audience participation. A British audience probably won’t expect a camera to be tuned on them or for their own faces to be suddenly used in the show. Be warned, you might get chosen! As a semi-regular theatre goer, the actors really broke the fourth wall and did something completely different. The younger audience members loved it but I think it was a bit of a shock to some of the more serious older members. In my opinion, the amazing techno dance sequences were my favourite part of the show but each act is completely different. There are both group and solo performances, so you get to see each of the six individual guy’s talents.

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Having seen Siro-A last year, I was a bit worried I’d be watching more or less the same show as last year. Amazingly, most of the material was brand new and even more advanced and insane than ever. The best new performance for me was the ‘movie tribute’ (feat. Disney’s Frozen!) but the good old fashioned favourites like ‘Barcode Man’ remained. The show is over all too quickly in just one hour but it really is worth every penny. Plus, you can grab dinner beforehand in China Town. What’s not to like?

Siro-A are performing more or less every day in London until 11 January 2015, so you’ve got no excuse not to go! This is one of those rare spectacles you rarely see in England, so click here to buy your tickets now!

HYPER JAPAN is back for Christmas!


22f58ccc-89d5-453c-bbad-2b41fb4bc2e7It’s back! The HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market is officially returning to London for Christmas this year! You can buy your tickets here.

From Friday 14 to Sunday 16 November, you’ll be able to get all your Japan-themed Christmas shopping done (and indulge yourself!) at the Kensington Olympia’s National Hall.

Bringing together diverse exhibitors, sellers, performers and fans, HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market will show off the best of both traditional and contemporary Japan in the heart of London. Visitors will be able to experience diverse elements of Japan’s culture in a single venue, and HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market particularly focuses on gift ideas and exclusive goods with a Japanese theme to them, timed just right for one’s seasonal shopping.

Whether it’s shopping, food and drink, fashion or entertainment, you can get it all at HYPER JAPAN.

This event is a firm favourite of mine. I was disappointed I couldn’t make the one in July, so doubly looking forward to November!

WIN! Two tickets to HYPER JAPAN!


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Great news, everyone! It’s competition time again – and this one’s pretty awesome.

This is your chance to win two (adult) tickets to the UK’s greatest celebration of all things Japanese – HYPER JAPAN – on Sunday 27 July.

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The rules are simple, just like HYPER JAPAN on Facebook and comment on this blog post below. The competition closes on Sunday 29 June and your tickets will be posted out to you. You’ll need to be living in the UK to enter. Remember that HYPER JAPAN runs from Friday 25 to Sunday 27 July and these tickets are for the Sunday only!

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The excitement continues to build for this summer’s HYPER JAPAN 2014! With new guests and exhibitors constantly being confirmed, the team are now starting to put together a provisional main stage timetable, which you can see hereMasked Ninja HIROKI will be flipping, twirling and spinning his way onstage, while traditional Japanese stage arts meet modern choreography and production values with the DEN Entertainment show “The Sake”.  HYPER JAPAN will have a very different meeting of cutting-edge tech and Japanese tradition in the form of Opera: AOI‘s debut, where synthesised singing gives voice to Bunraku puppetry. July’s HYPER JAPAN will also feature the return of crowd-favourite “KimoCos” duo YANAKIKU to London! There’s so much going on, and so much more to be added still, so as always, check out the website for the latest updates.ImageProxy

If you follow this blog, you’ll know I’m currently on hiatus while I focus on my work-related diploma. HYPER JAPAN falls on the final weekend I have to put on the finishing touches, so I sadly won’t be able to make it this year… but thanks to the wonderful people at HYPER JAPAN, one lucky person and their friend will (technically) be going in my place!

London premier of A New World: intimate music from Final Fantasy


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How did you spend your Valentine’s weekend? Romantic dinner out, or sitting in front of the TV eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream? I managed to miss out on both of these things and was instead seduced by beautiful music from the ever-popular ‘Final Fantasy’ series, arguably one of Japan’s biggest exports.

In 2012, I was lucky enough to get tickets to the 25th anniversary of the ‘Final Fantasy: Distant Worlds’ concert at the Royal Albert Hall. So, when an email popped up in my inbox saying that the premier concert of ‘A New World: intimate music from Final Fantasy’ would return to London in 2014, I was on stand-by to snap up two tickets!

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The first thing that struck me on entering London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) St Luke’s, compared to the Royal Albert Hall where ‘Distant Worlds’ was held last year, was how much smaller the venue was. The orchestra itself was no larger than 12 people, very much in keeping with the ‘intimate’ feeling. Conductor Arnie Roth explained that ‘A New World’ marked a new direction in the way of Final Fantasy orchestral performances; smaller audience, smaller orchestra, but no less impressive.

Surprisingly, unlike the 2012 ‘Distant Worlds’ concert, there were no programmes for sale. Even more surprisingly, the audience did not even get to see a song list in advance. I was initially a little disappointed by this, but it just meant that we were constantly surprised by the announcement of which song was coming up next.

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Programme:

Sephiroth (Final Fantasy VII)

Eruyt Village (Final Fantasy XII)

Fight with Seymour (Final Fantasy X)

A New World (Final Fantasy V)

The Red Wings (Final Fantasy IV)

Eliya, the Maiden of Water (Final Fantasy III)

Town (Final Fantasy I)

Chocobo theme medley

Those who Fight (Final Fantasy VII)

Dark World (Final Fantasy VI)

Moogle theme (Final Fantasy IX)

Troya (Final Fantasy IV)

Decisive Battle (Final Fantasy VI)

Gustaberg (Final Fantasy XI)

Blinded by the Light (Final Fantasy XIII)

The Promise (Final Fantasy XIII)

Rebel Army theme (Final Fantasy II)

To Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X)

Encore: Force Your Way (Final Fantasy VIII)

My favourite song of the night was undoubtedly ‘Fight with Seymour’, which was performed by a string quartet. Some songs, like ‘Eliya’ and ‘Those Who Fight’, were performed as solos. Every song was different and most of the songs were less mainstream ‘Final Fantasy’ songs, which was great news for connoisseurs of the series.

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All in all, this was a fantastic night, not that we expected any less! ‘Final Fantasy’ music really is my muse; I have the soundtracks on repeat when I’m writing my book (which very appropriately is a YA fantasy). I’ll definitely be buying the soundtrack as soon as it’s out.

Even better news for fans who missed this concert, Arnie Roth and Nobuo Uematsu announced that the ‘Final Fantasy’ concert will be returning to London before the end of this year! We have no more information than that for now, but watch this space!

Treats from the Japan Foundation Touring Film Programme


Last week I was lucky enough to catch two films at the beginning of the annual Japan Foundation UK touring film programme, now in its eleventh year. The theme this year is ‘youth’ and there are 11 films on in total, each one looking at a slightly different aspect of Japan’s youth culture.

The two films I went to see were ‘Colourful’, a beautifully-done anime about a sinful spirit who is given a chance of redemption when he is placed in the body of a school boy, and ‘Otakus in Love’, a laugh out loud, insane tale about two social misfits trying to make their way in the world. If I had more time and money, I would have seen more films on the schedule, but you’ll have to make do with an overview of these two films this year!

As the name suggests, this film festival is travelling around England until 27 March, so there’s still time to catch some screenings depending on where you live and how far you’re willing to travel. You can check out the schedule on the Japan Foundation website, so get planning!

‘Colourful’, directed by Keiichi Hara, 2010

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A dejected spirit is given a second chance at life when he is placed in the body of 14-year-old boy Makoto, who has been experiencing a difficult time at home and at school. In a word, this film was charming. I’ve seen my fair share of anime films and ‘Colourful’ got the balance of realism and surrealism just right. The animation itself is somewhat rustic and a lot less ‘polished and shiny’ than your average anime film, for luck of a better phrase, which means that the characters and setting itself felt more realistic and believable.

‘Colourful’ explores the lives and minds of early teens in contemporary Japan, seen through the eyes of the nameless spirit who tries to readjust to life as Makoto. The pressure on Makoto to do well in exams and choose a high school, versus his being bottom in the class and strong feeling of not belonging in the world, is one that is rather familiar in Japan, where academic excellence is everything. Despite this, the spirit inhabiting Makoto wonders why he tried to kill himself when he has a family who loves him. The reason for Makoto’s suicide and the identity of the spirit that has been given a second chance are revealed during the film, and will more than likely stun you.

Luckily, the director was at the screening and took some questions at the end! I didn’t get mine in, and one guy spend five minutes rambling about which bits of the film he didn’t like and didn’t even end with a question, but that is the only complaint I can make. It was fantastic to see the director had come to the UK especially for the festival.

I was very moved by this film and heard a number of people in the audience sniffing, which is always a sign of a good film. ‘Colourful’ sadly isn’t available to buy here, and it really should be, so I highly recommend making a special trip to go and see it at the festival if you can.

‘Otakus in Love’, directed by Suzuki Matsuo, 2004

filmImg1.ddee0a5e920ebdd057eb746d8697b422While ‘Colourful’ might have you tearing up, ‘Otakus in Love’ will more than likely have you doubling over with laughter. This film is in its own category of ‘crazy insane Japanese cinema’.

Two social misfits – ‘rock’ manga artist Mon and cosplay-obsessed Koino – collide in this quirky love-drama, set in the vibrant world of Japanese contemporary pop culture including manga fandom and cosplay conventions. Look out for a number of high-profile cameos, including directors Takashi Miike and Shinya Tsukamoto, who appear on screen!

Fans of cosplay, manga and video games will love this film for obvious reasons, but this isn’t just a ‘silly film about two geeks who get up to lots of shenanigans’. Mon and Koino are at odds with the straight-laced world around them, where getting a job and meeting a nice young man/woman are the pillars of social success, and the two are effectively immature adults. Mon sees himself as a ‘rock’ manga artist but no one gets his art, because it’s literally rocks, and Koino obsession with drawing fan manga and making cosplay is putting her dangerously in the red. You probably know some people like that!

I can’t say much more about this film without giving away the good bits, but this is another gem of a film. It’s wacky and ridiculous, but this genre is an important part of contemporary Japanese cinema (yes, really). It’s also not available to buy in the UK, so get yourself over to a screening!

A huge thank you to the Japan Foundation for putting on a fantastic programme, and I look forward to next year!

Below are the trailers for the two films, without subtitles, so enjoy!

Hi Sushi!


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In my never-ending quest to visit more Japanese restaurants in London, I recently visited a brilliant izakaya-style restaurant in the Covent Garden area. Oddly enough, I went for lunch with a group of people I’d never met before – I recently got myself back on meetup.com, a brilliant website where people can host meet up groups dependent on their interest. It’s a great way to make new friends and see new places in your home city, so I really recommend it. Anyway, I’m straying from the point now…

Hi Sushi is hidden away on Catherine Street in the Covent Garden area and its speciality is giant platters of sushi, so is perfect for big parties! If you’re in a big group, the best way to go is the tasting menu at approximately £18 a head, which includes an unlimited platter of 5 different kinds of sushi and two hot side dishes. You’re given a little sheet of paper and tick the dishes you want and, once it arrives, everyone shares! The sashimi and crispy salmon skin roll are particular favourites of mine. Make sure you don’t order too much, though, because you are charged £5 for any wastage.

600_312976652The food is very nice, although the restaurant itself is quite dark inside and staff aren’t exactly overly friendly. Having looked up a couple of reviews online, I don’t seem to be the only one who thought this. However, if you’re with a big group of friends, you probably won’t mind that much anyway. If you’re just popping in for lunch with two or three friends, there are also plenty of bento box style options.

So, if you’ve got a birthday coming up and like sushi and affordable food, Hi Sushi is worth a visit!

Sorry for the short post this week! I’ve been pretty busy with work, book writing and that New Year’s revolution of ‘going out more’. Next week I’ll be taking a belated look at the latest instalment of the ‘Ace Attorney’ series on the Nintendo 3DS!

Interactive dining: Inamo


This post is a little late but you can blame that on our Virgin wi-fi, which has been down for five days now! Anyway, I’m going to tell you all this week about an amazing restaurant in London – Inamo.

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I hope this is what all dining will be like it the future because I have never had so much fun in a restaurant before. I’ve been to Inamo three times in the last month, which should give you a good idea of how much I like it.

So, what’s so great about Inamo and why is it so futuristic? The tables here are interactive! There is a big projector above each table (cleverly disguised as a light), which displays the ‘home screen’ menu, and there is a little groove on the table which you run your finger over to move a mouse. It’s effectively a table laptop!

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So, what can you do on these tables? Well, obviously you can order your drinks and food and they are brought straight to your table. By clicking on the food or drink tab, you open the drop down menu and can scroll through all your choices; beer, wine and sake, cocktail, spirits, hot drinks or small dishes, large dishes, side dishes and dessert. For two people, two or three small dishes and one large dish will be filling but that drop-down menu will make it very easy to order more! Having been there three times now, I’ve noticed that some of the dish choices change, which shows that the food is fresh. Oh, and it’s obviously delicious as well.

Sophie’s recommendations for an Inamo meal for two:

Pu-erh tea

Popcorn shrimp, chicken satay, miso grilled seabass

Duck with pancakes

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These tables aren’t just for ordering food, though. You can also play with the ‘ambience’ and pick your table background, whether you want geometric tiles, a beach or for it to randomly change every two minutes. There’s also ‘chef cam’, where you can spy on the chefs making your food, a ‘what next’ map, which is very handy for tourists who are sticking in the Soho area, tube and bus maps, and a ‘call your taxi’ button.

My personal Inamo highlight is the games on the table. There are three games you can play at your table in between dishes; snap, a puzzle game and battleship. This last one is, obviously, a two player game so you can still feel sociable at the table playing it. It’s really great fun, and you’ll spend ages playing trying to beat your partner. On another note, my sister is much better at playing battleship than me.

Inamo has actually been around for five years but I only just found out about it at HYPER JAPAN, where they happened to have a stand. It’s on Wardour Street, just off Shaftesbury Avenue, so it’s right in the heart of London. Whether you’re a massive Japanese foodie or just love the idea of being able to play video games at the table, I seriously recommend it.

10 out of 10, and then some.

 

Siro-A at Leicester Square Theatre


siro-a_top_vollI’ve never taken hallucinatory drugs but I imagine it would be something like watching Siro-A’s performance, only the Siro-A performance is even better than drugs. That’s an unusual way to open a blog post…

I’m very late to the Siro-A party and am pretty sure 50% of the Japan bloggers I follow have already covered this but better late than never! Siro-A are performing at the Leicester Square Theatre in London until Sunday 13 October. It’s always a sign of how great something is if so many people are talking about it.

I actually have trouble putting this performance into words because it really is all about the visuals. The posters on the tube are hailing the group as ‘Japan’s answer to the Blue Man Group’, a group formed in the 1980s combining theatrical performance with experimental music and dramatic visual effects. Siro-A take this idea to a new level using projected images that constantly move in response to their own movements. However, this description doesn’t do them justice, so I’ll let this video do the talking:

The performance really has everything from electro music, insane visual effects and dance. The Japanese group of six has performed in Tokyo, Shanghai Expo, TedX and have won the Spirit of the Fringe Award at the Edinburgh festival. Daiki, Arai Toshiya, Abe Toshinori, Yohei, Iwai Hiroyuki and Sato Ryosuke have wowed audiences all over the world and there really is nothing else quite like them.

siro-a_colours__gallery_imageSiro-A’s one hour show is a mixture of mind-blowing dance sequences, comedy acts and audience participation. A British audience probably won’t expect a camera to be tuned on them or for their own faces to be suddenly used in the show. Be warned, you might get chosen! As a semi-regular theatre goer, the actors really broke the fourth wall and did something completely different. The younger audience members loved it but I think it was a bit of a shock to some of the more serious older members. In my opinion, the amazing techno dance sequences were my favourite part of the show but each act is completely different. There are both group and solo performances, so you get to see each member’s individual talent.

My friend and I absolutely loved Siro-A and I’m actually going to go again with my sister (and possibly even mum!) because it really is a unique show.

You can buy your tickets for the show here and, great news, they’re very affordable! A fantastic way to spend the day or evening – there are plenty of performances! You can also get the DVD from the gift shop afterwards, which is a must. I cannot recommend going enough, even if it means making a special trip to London!

Image source: lilinhaangel, londoncalling

Back from Hyper Japan 2013!


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Geisha, shamisen, cosplay, video games – HYPER JAPAN had them all and more this year and it was the best one to date! HYPER JAPAN is a three-day exhibition of Japanese culture in London, encompassing both the traditional and modern. I kept hearing the phrase “the only UK event that truly reflects today’s Japan” used to describe the event, and think this was a fair description given its scale and diversity. There were people from all walks of life gathered at Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre last weekend; students, families, English, Belgian, Japanese. There was so much to do and see, and, of course, I learned plenty of new things about Japan.

I couldn’t pick one favourite thing about HYPER JAPAN because there was just so much to love. I managed to narrow it down to three, though: Siro-A, Geisha Sayuki and Minyo.

Siro-A

There are no photos that can do justice to Siro-A’s performance. It was mind-blowing stuff. This Japanese techno troupe gave an amazing performance complete with optical illusions and advanced technology, and as the guys moved their screens of various sizes the audience saw everything from ‘Guitar Hero’ to ‘Super Mario’ to bouncing balls! The audience were on its feet clapping at the end and, as soon as they announced they were selling discounted tickets for their London show at their stand, there was a mad surge for the desk. Given how Siro-A gave such an insane performance on a limited stage (the full performance includes lasers), I had to buy tickets and suggest you do too. You can buy tickets for Siro-A here and check out the video below for starters.

Geisha Sayuki

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Geisha are one of the most iconic symbols of Japan, although the nature of their profession as traditional female entertainers is very mysterious and it is exceptionally rare for a Westerner to witness their skills and performances unless they are lucky enough to go Japan, and even then it’s pretty difficult. On stage was Australian born Sayuki, the first westerner to formally debut as a Geisha, who shared her knowledge of the Geisha world and her own story of becoming a Geisha. She also performed traditional music and dance with her Geisha sisters, complete in their traditional costume and makeup, which was a very unique experience. These performances are normally very private and intimate, with only a very small audience, so seeing it on a big stage in London was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Expect another blog post on Geisha Sayuki, as there’s so much more to say about her.

Minyo

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The traditional Minyo music performance on the main stage was an absolute treat, especially for people who had never had the chance to hear a live Japanese music performance before. Minyo means folk song and radiates nostalgic Japanese charm, and the audience were even joining in at one point. Showcasing were Hibiki Ichikawa (on the shamisen, the traditional Japanese guitar), Koji Kishida (on the shinobue, the traditional Japanese flute), Akari Mochizuki (vocal) and Tomoya Nose (percussion). There were both individual and group performances and the performances were so talented. I have already bought Hibiki Ishikawa’s album “Shamazing!”, which I highly recommend, and it won’t be long until I get Koji Kishida’s too!

Tokyo Fashion Story and Yun*Chi

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My knowledge of Japanese fashion is limited to the basic ‘kawaii’ and ‘lolita’ variety, but the Tokyo Fashion Story fashion show did a fine job of showing off plenty of other quirky, glamorous and wacky fashions the country has to offer. The models were all fashion volunteers who were made up on the day, and they all looked fantastic. Judging them was the J-Pop icon Yun*Chi, who awarded her personal favourite outfit with a prize as well as picked out a best-dressed member of the audience for another prize. The show was then topped off with a performance from Yun*Chi herself, which got even me (serious blogger face) bopping in my seat. Also, can someone tell me where she bought her platform shoes from? I loved them!

Ace Attorney: Dual Destinies demo

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Well, I wasn’t expecting to see a demo for this game when it had only just been released in Japan the day before. ‘Ace Attorney’ is my favourite video game series, as you might have guessed if you’ve been following this blog for a while, so I made sure I stopped by the stand to try out the demo. Without giving too much away, this game really does look amazing. There were two demos to play: ‘trial’ and ‘investigation’. The investigations have seriously been jazzed up for the 3DS with its panoramic crime scenes. There was constantly a queue for this demo… I hope Nintendo was taking note that a lot of people were asking for a physical release too, as it is currently only confirmed as a downloadable game.

Kuratas

Another interesting talk on the main stage came from Kuratas, a manufacturer of, quite literally, giant robots. The audience was joined by the creator Kurata himself via webcam over in Japan and were treated to a very flashy video of the kuratas robot. Kuratas robots measures approximately 4 meters tall and weigh 4 tonnes and can be controlled via a person in a cockpit. The purpose of them? Kurata wanted to create something fantastic and realise the dream of thousands of kids and adults alike, to pilot a giant robot. I did manage to get an audience question in, however, and asked whether there were any plans to design a robot that could be used in life-saving situations, the answer to which was a welcome ‘yes’. For now, Kuratas stands out so much simply because it exists and is an amazing piece of technology. You can even order and customise you own robot if you have the money to spare, and enter the Japan Open Heavy Robot Battle Tournament. I’m not even joking. The future is here!

Rakugo

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I’d never heard of Rakugo before, so this was another ‘completely new’ thing for me at HYPER JAPAN! Rakugo is a special kind of Japanese comic story-telling, in which the story teller sits and acts out a story, playing all the characters, imitating walking and running by shuffling in their seat, and using only a fan and handkerchief as props. Performing on Saturday morning was the very animated and entertaining Diane Kichijitsu, who stumbled across Japan and Rakugo on a back-packing trip and has since become immersed in the world of Rakugo. The girls behind me genuinely were in stitches, and her performance was funny for both the kids and adults!

Sushi Awards

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The Eat Japan Sushi Awards are something I always look forward to at HYPER JAPAN. Each year, 5 sushi chefs compete in the Sushi Awards to be crowned champion. The sushi is always prepared and displayed in an extravagant manner and, needless to say, is always delicious. These are the best five sushi chefs in the country, don’t forget. This year the finalists were:

Each sushi tasted very different and they were all delicious. I think I need to head along to these restaurants for a proper dinner and get some more restaurant reviews done! The winner of the awards with Yoshihiro Motobashi’s Tokyo Special!

CosParade

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The cosplay parade was definitely the biggest crowd-drawer over the weekend, which isn’t surprising given both the sheer talent and time people put in to their costumes and the fact that a lot of young people seem to enter the Japan fandom initially through cosplay. Of course, there’s so much more to Japan than cosplay, but its popularity continues to grow in the west. Anyway, on to the costumes themselves. They were fantastic. I really can’t say anything more than that. We saw everything from ‘Vocaloid’ to what I think must be the world’s first Ruby Weapon from ‘Final Fantasy 7′ cosplay. HYPER JAPAN also played host to the UK preliminaries for the European Cosplay Gathering, which takes place at Japan Expo in Paris, and the standard of cosplay was on another level. Our UK representatives is CosPlex, who gave an amazing performance as Kraehe from ‘Princess Tutu’, and group entry an equally brilliant ‘Snow White and the Hunstman’ cosplays with ridiculously intricate detail. I took more footage of the parade than photos because I was suffering from non-professional camera flash envy, so expect a great video soon!

Tickets and Twitter

In case it’s not clear from this long blog post, I 100% loved HYPER JAPAN. I personally have no complaints about the event, although when I got home on Saturday and checked Twitter there was a lot of reports of extremely long queues and people who had pre-bought tickets queueing for up to three hours or not getting in at all. A couple of people contacted me personally and asked me to mention this on my blog, so I emailed Hyper Japan’s press team for more information and had the following response:

“We can assure you that we didn’t sell the advance tickets and what you heard about overselling should have been a rumour. We have warned on the HYPER JAPAN website that you should plan ahead and allow enough time as it may be necessary to wait to gain entry during busy time even though you have purchased tickets. On the day, as we feel for the people waiting in the queue under the sun, we offered free water to those people then. We are currently investigating the real cause of the queue issue.”

I hope this response will be useful to those of you affected. If you do have a complaint regarding the tickets you can contact info@hyperjapan.co.uk.

Until next time…

The next HYPER JAPAN will be in 25-27 July 2014 and I hope to see a lot of you there! The venue is yet to be announced, so keep checking the website and subscribe to the newsletter for the latest news. This was by far the best HYPER JAPAN I had been to date and there was such a wonderful range of things to see on stage and stalls to shop at. My full spoils list was as follows:

  • Tai-yaki from the delicious Yaki stand
  • Melon ice dessert from the Nice Ice stand
  • Matcha latte!
  • Siro-A tickets
  • ‘Shamazing!’ CD by Hibiki Ichikawa
  • A Vocaloid Gakupo paper doll for my BFF Laura (who was actually cosplaying Gakupo

You can see the rest of my photos from the weekend on the blog’s Facebook page.

Were you at HYPER JAPAN? Comment below and say what you liked the most! I’ll be working on my HYPER JAPAN video next, so if you fancy following this blog and keeping an eye out on it, you will be much loved <3

One month ’til Hyper Japan!


One of the UK’s biggest celebration of Japanese culture will be hitting London again next month Friday 26th to Sunday 28th July, so I thought I’d do a round-up of what’s going on and tempt a few more of you to go along! Whether you’re into Japanese food, music, anime, cosplay or martial arts, there’s something for everyone at HYPER JAPAN. There may well be more announcements made in the next few weeks but, assuming the majority of you will need to plan train journeys and book tickets online, I thought I’d give you the low down (as much as I can) now!

There’s no full schedule available yet but I will update this post as soon as it’s up! You can check out the provisional one here.

Sushi Awards 2013

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Personally, my favourite part of HYPER JAPAN! The Eat-Japan Sushi Awards are back again for Hyper Japan, with five Japanese restaurants in the UK battling it out to win Sushi of the Year. You’ll need to buy a separate ticket from the main event but it’s well worth it, as these sushi really are works of art… and delicious too!

Geisha guest

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Are you fascinated by the mystique of geisha? Want to meet and speak with one in person and learn what it’s like to actually be a geisha? Sayuki, the first Westerner to formally debut as a geisha, and three of her geisha sisters, will be performing and giving a talk at HYPER JAPAN.

Traditional folk music

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Minyo means folk song, and for many people in Japan, tunes from this genre conjure up nostalgia for one’s hometown and family. Showcasing this lovely and emotive traditional style of music will be Hibiki Ichikawa(Tsugaru Shamisen), Koji Kishida(Shinobue) and Akari Mochizuki(Vocal) as well as Hibiki’s students and Tomoya Nose(Percussion).

Crazy pop performances!

There have been two great performances confirmed for HYPER JAPAN so far! Have some videos to go with them…

SIRO-A! Just watch this video and tell me you’re not intrigued…

Yun*Chi! Remember Kyaru Pamyu Pamyu? If you like you’re cute/weird Japanese music, you’re in luck!

Makeover time!

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Ever wondered what it would be like to wear full Japanese street style make-up? Wish you knew the secrets to creating a beautiful Lolita or gyaru style look, or something even more spectacular? The Tokyo Style Transformation Area will be there to make your J-style dreams come true! There will be three dedicated zones in this Area, which will be as follows; the Tokyo Beauty Package zone, Wigs & Costume Capers and finally the Photo zone; capture your J-Fashion moment and Vogue it up in front of the atmospheric backdrop to make a lasting souvenir of your awesome Tokyo look!

Tokyo Fashion Story

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This fashion show will aim to enlighten you on the many fun, sassy and cool genres of Tokyo’s street styles. HYPER JAPAN is looking for both male and female fashionistas from all over the UK to participate in this fashion story! If you think this could be you, download an application form  here. Applications close Friday 5th July!

Cosplay competition

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Do you cosplay yourself, or just like checking out the amazing costumes on stage?

The UK Preliminary for ECG 2014 will take place on Saturday, 27th July 2013 at HYPER JAPAN. The ECG final will take place at Japan Expo in Paris, France. Japan Expo is the largest pop-culture event in Europe, with over 200,000 visitors and dozens of guests from the world of anime, video games, movies and comics. HYPER JAPAN will be sending one solo cosplayer and one group on an all-expenses paid trip to Japan Expo to represent the UK at the ECG final in July 2014!

Not so competitive? The COSParade is a chance for experienced and beginner cosplayers to show off their costumes on the HYPER JAPAN stage! Simply strut your stuff on our catwalk, and we’ll be dishing out prizes for the best costumes.

Cosplay guest – Wizard Wand

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Visit Wizard Wand‘s booth at the show and find out more about this cosplay community from Japan! HYPER JAPAN are planning some fun cosplay activities together too (to be announced very soon)!

ITK Robotics returns…

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Crowd favourites ITK will be returning to give you a glimpse of the gadgets that could be appearing in your home in the future.

Story time!

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Rakugo, the Japanese art of comic storytelling, is coming to the Main Stage!  Diane Kichijitsu will be ready to tickle your funny bones with her hilarious and ingeniously enacted English language Rakugo stories!

Sumo run!

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Now you too can experience the grace, power and athleticism of these titans yourself, and raise money to boot, by participating in the annual Sumo Run! As well as raising lots of money for a worthy cause, the event has previously set a Guinness World Record for the largest gathering of people running in Sumo Suits.

Phew, I think I’ve covered enough there! Head over to the HYPER JAPAN website and get your tickets! It’s going to be a good one!

Photo credits: Diverse Japan, The Daily Telegraph, Hyper Japan