This event at the soon to be redeveloped (ie. demolished) Earls Court – a site that has hosted events as far back as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show in 1836 – ran for two and a half days from Friday afternoon through to Sunday.
Whilst I would question the time tabling of some events – for example the Kamui samurai sword stage show was 17.30 on the Friday but curiously the first event at 10am on Sunday when the audience was by no means at its peak- I suspect it did live up to it’s billing as the UK’s biggest J-culture event.
There were the usual things you might expect to find – an art show, a sword stand (not sure if a purchase would help or hinder the tube journey home), a wall to pin up your own manga artwork, a sake tasting run, sushi classes and a Ninja that would write your name in Japanese characters if you asked him nicely (and produced £3). Not to mention a selection of various waving cats, strange soft toys, tables of highly detailed models of various manga and anime characters and a CosPlay competition, the participants of which were popular photographic subjects, as they are at other shows in London such as the Expo shows at Excel in May & October. An answer was also produced for the rarely asked question of how does a man in a one piece panda suit go to the toilet (answer is VERY carefully).
For those who enjoy Japanese food there was a wide variety of stands supplying what certainly looked like highly authentic dishes, including perhaps some things you would not find in the supermarket lunchtime sushi section.
For those interested in visiting, there was a host of travel information available, including such things as a Japan anime map and an anime tourism guide, which did not just consist of the world famous Ghibli Musuem in Tokyo (if you never got round to seeing Spirited Away you really should) but 43 pages listing 47 other museums for the dedicated – or casually interested -fan. One operator I spoke to specialised in bespoke itineraries including such things as a trip to see a Sword Master actually forging samurai swords. An unexpectedly interesting session was presented by ITK who showed a robotic hand or Handroid as they dubbed it- which could be controlled via a wire connected to a glove or, impressively, by motion capture via a Microsoft Kinnect camera (though ITK write their own software). My impression was that this event is really for dedicated followers of Japanese culture, rather than perhaps those of us who enjoy a bowl of noodles or some Wasabi Nuts now and again. However, there is no doubt that if you take a trip to Hyper Japan in 2013, you will see some interesting sights.
All photos copyright of Paul King (Twitter: @thephotomerge)