Hyper Japan is, well, it’s in the name. I went to my first Hyper Japan in what felt like a very long time earlier this month and was genuinely surprised by how much the organisers manage to fit into one weekend!
First things first, here’s a short video to give you a bit of a flavour. I’m going to be making more videos from now on, so would be very grateful if you subscribe to my channel!
I was at Hyper Japan on Friday and Sunday this year, so it was physically impossible to cover everything. The timetable was exceptionally packed this year – with the Hyper Live stage, Hyper theatre and J-culture showcase being the main places to catch performances. If rushing from stage to stage doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, there’s plenty to see just from walking around – whether that’s the food stalls, kawaii shopping stalls or sake tasting experience.
My blogger instincts were tingling the whole weekend and, for me, the busier it is the better! But I did speak to one or two people who felt the fact that there was so much to do was exhausting.
My advice to anyone going to Hyper Japan is to plan in advance and look at the schedule, so you can make the most of it. But you’re there to have fun so, if you’re a ‘go with the flow’ kind of person, more power to you.
Here’s a round-up of what I got up to at the weekend…
Hyper Japan always manages to pull big-name guests from Japan and this summer was no exception. One of the big names this time round was Danny Choo, the creator of Mirai Suenaga and fashion doll line Smart Doll. I won’t say too much about Danny now as I was lucky enough to chat to him one on one, so keep an eye out for my interview with him very soon!
I’m generally a fan of anything martial arts and acrobatic. Two acts I particularly wanted to see were Shinobi-Try, a performance ninja group, and Tokyo Rickshaw, a dance/music/acrobatic unit dedicated to promoting the traditional Asakusa rickshaw experience ahead of the 2020 Olympics. Admittedly, Tokyo Rickshaw’s singing performance was more cheesy than anything (in that distinctly charming Japanese way) but there was an opportunity to get pulled around in a rickshaw, which was pretty fun! To be fair, it was hard to top Shinobi-Try when they had swords and could do multiple backflips.
I don’t really follow the trends in modern Japanese music but, for a lot of people who go to Hyper Japan, the music acts are the biggest draw. The act I personally enjoyed the most was Fuka Mariwo, a shamisen player who fuses traditional and modern music, and was accompanied by a lithe young woman doing pretty impressive acrobatic Kill Bill-style moves with a katana. Another unique performance was from Kirie, a strange fusion of dance, music, calligraphy and beatboxing which I’d love to see back at Hyper Japan.
The only other music acts I briefly caught were Shin and REOL, and I had to fight through the crowds to get some decent shots so they were obviously very popular! The most bizarre music act award goes to The Age of Civil Wars – an animated Sengoku samurai-style rock troupe. The two men behind the act were performing in the flesh for the first time, and let’s just say they weren’t what I expected. I can’t complain about the music (and animated samurai) though!
Japan Character VR
Virtual reality is the future! Japan Character VR was a new addition to Hyper Japan that uses VR technology to experience your favourite anime and manga in a new way. If you were lucky enough to get a ticket (this involves planning – see my earlier comment!) you can experience the Death Note escape room game and read some Jump manga via interactive building blocks. Tickets were in high demand so, for those who couldn’t get one, there were other bits to enjoy. I’m pleased to say I escaped the Death Note escape room!
As well as going to Hyper Japan to blog, I also go to discover new things. One talk that’s definitely given me new material for a future blog was edoanime1803, who gave a presentation on utsushi-e, a form of Japanese animation (quite like shadow puppetry using glass slides) that first appeared in Edo over 200 years ago. Sadly, we didn’t get to see a performance at Hyper Japan but you can watch this video here if you’re interested.
I’ll be honest, the food queues were super long every time I had time for a food break, so I didn’t sample as much as I planned. The Mai Taiko stall always had a short queue though (due to its location away from the other stands) so I had a tasty sushi lunch from there both days. The Kikkoman sushi competition is always a favourite of mine, not least because you get to eat free sushi and vote for your favourite creation. Well done to all three finalists and the winner, who won a giant inflatable Kikkoman bottle!
If you want to just sit down for a while and drink, IZANAI’s izakaya area is a nice place to rest your legs. The room is decorated nicely with lanterns and has stalls serving alcohol and ramune, as well as its own mini performance stage, so it’s a good place to get away for a while.
Personally, I really liked Tobacco Dock as a venue. It’s big, airy and feels secluded. Because there’s so much going on at Hyper Japan, its maze-like layout can be a bit frustrating as it took me a while to work out where things were before getting the hang of it. I prefer Tobacco Dock to the O2 or previous venues as it generally has a nicer feel about it, so am glad that there will be more Hyper Japans there…
Speaking of, the next Hyper Japan takes place at Tobacco Dock 24-26 November and tickets are on sale now! This one’s their Christmas market, so it’s a great opportunity to pick up some Christmas presents for your friends and family.