Happening in London between the 22nd and 24th of July ,the HYPER JAPAN show is the foremost Japan culture event in the UK ,with something for everyone ,from Cuisine to Culture,Anime, Cosplay ,music and much more.
Proceeds from the show go to help the Japan Tsunami Appeal after the terrible tragedy earlier this year.
If your into Japan culture the chances are you are attending and if your reading this after the event you were most probably there. The show which is the second show to have taken place in London is much bigger this year ,so get on down to HYPER JAPAN 2011 and join in the party.
Yes The Snake will be there to report on the show and get in on the fun as it happens over the weekend ,loads of pictures will be posted This is all to tie in with our Japan Special this month on site.
Our site banner represents our Japan Month ,so join in and celebrate Japan
After a late start , i ventured to Olympia to check out the show for a couple of hours before i get in full swing for the 23rd. Situated in Olympia 2 and on two levels it all looked organized fairly well...
With a main stage area set up on the ground floor ,where highlights of the show would play out .
But first i thought i would remind everyone why the show is on, of course it is to aid the relief effort in Japan after the recent Earthquakes and tsunami , on the lower-ground floor is a tribute to the hardships the Japanese people have gone through and pictures of the destruction .
As shown below.....
It's amazing how resilient people are after events like this. But in the end you must look forward .
Hyper Japan 2011 was also host to the Eat Japan Sushi Awards ,where competing chefs vied for the converted award ,Visitors could by additional tickets to taste the entrants delicacies and vote accordingly ,this way it was the visiting public that decided the winner ,a pretty cool idea. .
Visitors try each of the chefs delights
Then they can vote for their favorite.
To get everyone's attention they decided to put on some informal crazy dance on stage .coaxing the odd audience member to take part to.
Geisha's performed on stage ,showing the art of their dance.
A vast array of sellers are on show ,selling Films,Anime and Manga. Or if art is your thing one seller has a host of prints which can be purchased for about a fiver ,and the selection is vast (check below).
Just a small part of the selection of prints for sale.
Of course there are the food stalls offering a vast array of delicacies,from Sushi ,Wasabi and Drinks from Green Teas,beers and of course Sake. I must admit i did not venture into the alcohol on my first day ,but did try some Iced Green Tea Lemonade (which was more akin to drinking a Tea Milkshake) ,but was very nice.
The sweet stores are always a favorite and i wasted no time in picking up a few munchies from the Cyber Candy store (I will be back again the next day I'm sure)
Clothing is also another article to pamper yourself at the show with to ,i treated myself to a lovely T-shirt with a Samurai warrior with Calligraphy on .( i will update this tomorrow with the sellers name and maybe a shot of his stall)
For you game freaks out there (of which i am one ) both Nintendo and Bandai Namco have stands at the show showing of their wares. I will focus more on these in my write up for the 23rd.
Of course Cosplay is also a big part of the show (though most of it kicks off on the 23rd ) there where quite a few who turned up as characters from various Anime or Manga's .and the Dragon Ball guys where out in force to ,see below....
This guy was quite good ,of what i saw.
With a early start , i met fellow K.I.T.G. member and my Photographer for the day ,''Snow-leopard'' at Olympia ,after a crazy Journey due to London underground closing lines due to repairs i arrived after using five trains (i know i should have drove) .
Anyway the queues where starting to get long at a early stage , of course being part of the Press entourage we went straight in. But i did have other friends coming and hoped they did not have to queue to long.
Once in i could already see it was a lot more busier then Friday and i arrived mid afternoon Friday and the place was easy to navigate. By the time we had quick mosey around and i showed Snow Leopard the highlights the place was filling up ,we ventured downstairs ,i had to show him the stall where i bought my T-shirt the previous day (as i new he would want one) .
After he perused the offerings at ''Nanairononji'' (D-24) . We ventured around to see what else was on hand .
Heading for the Wagashi Bakery
Back upstairs and you could see the place was filling up ,we went to see about some refreshments at the Wagashi Bakery ,but not before we visited Genki health foods ,who where promoting their seaweed based tablets , Not being a Tablet taker(just can not swallow them) ,
Snow leopard partook as the sites guinea pig for the next five minutes, The lovely Japanese lady was explaining to him about the Tablets being of NATURAL content ,as Snowleopard chewed on his Green Tablet i did think ''rather you then me'' Of course these foods are fine ,but a course of these work out quite expensive for the average JOE out there. As another representative did show us to benefit from taking these natural foods that a daily dose would amount to about twenty tablets. (it was a small cup full) Their probably great if you can afford to do it.
Back over to the Wagashi Bakery we had some refreshments from this Green Tea specialist. Being partial to Green Tea (or any Tea for that matter) We indulged .Snow Leopard purchased some Powdered Green Tea and a Sachet pack of Green Tea which can be served either Hot or Cold with Ice. Of course after we had discussed the benefits over this Japanese Green Tea compared to what you buy in Tescoe.
A selection of Tea's from the Wagashi Bakery
Left to Right - Canned Green Tea Energy drink / Powdered Green Tea/ 7 sachet pack of Matcha Latte ,which you can drink Hot or Cold.
Of course purchasing at the show is fine ,but to keep a supply at hand ,where do you get Japanese Green Tea in London? , No problem as thanks to Yoshiaki Takaura of Wagashi he is going email me a list of places we can get it in North London . I did return before we left to purchase my own selection as i said i would ( just hate carrying bags around conventions).
Back downstairs we witnessed a traditional Japanese Tea ceremony, i did say to Snow-Leopard if he was going to perform this ceremony before he made his Green Tea ,because i can not wait that long for a cup of Tea.
Tea Ceremony in progress
Midday was approaching and we thought food was in need ,somehow we got side tracked to the Sake Stand ( i had already said we better eat first) but hey ,when Sake calls 'Sake calls.
The great people at the Hasegawa Saketen UK stand gave us multiple samples of various Traditional Sake. Some where dry other like the Orange one was seem to be quite mild ( but you Know Sake ,you drink a few and they can hit you) . Now being partial to a bit of Alcohol i did say i would be back to purchase before i left ( which i did ,you know i hate carrying bags around)
Next stop was food ,and after deliberation we went for a selection at the Bento Ramen/Bento Cafe . Chicken and noodles was on my mind and after a nice sit down and eat we ventured back downstairs to see if we could get a hands on of the Nintendo 3DS ( Which we lucky enough did) The 3DS is something you have to use before buying as some people have reported feeling nausea after using it. ( It's all in the Motion)
Nintendo's Stand at Hyper Japan 2011
Now to the stage area where they where setting up for a Japanese food demonstration by Atsuko Ikeda. After initial set up Atsuko Ikeda was welcomed on stage and the demo started after coaxing some audience members to partake on stage.
This seemed OK ,it was a bit of a excuse to chill out on the floor for a bit ,as i was basically waiting for the performance of Kanon Wakeshima at 1400 hrs. .
Kanon Wakeshima is a 23 year old who fuses Classical Music /J-Pop and Contemporary music with Gothic Lolita fashion ,Now i must admit i had not known of her prior to this show to a point ,i did know of her as another stage name which was mentioned by the host and also the title she has gained as the ''Still Doll '' i new about but i never put all these elements together before.
She is considered to be one of Japan's most Prodigious musical talents ,apart from her Gothic Lolita style her trademarks are her Cello's which she plays .
Her Parents who are Huge music lovers always wished for their child to be a musical talent ,and from the age of three Kanon has played the Cello. ,twenty years later she has become a idol in Gothic Lolita fashion, and has had her songs featured in a number of Anime. And here now she has appeared for her first time in London giving two Charity performances for the Hyper Japan show. As well as the Talk spot she done on the first day off the show.
Kanon Wakeshima at Hyper Japan 2011
After the Kanon Wakeshima set ,we gathered our belongings and went about getting anything we wanted . I could see queues outside ,they had been their since before the Food demo. Inside the place was heaving at some points ,more so around the food and drink stalls. (people got to eat).
As we left i glanced down the road and the queues to get in where crazy ,they stretched down the road and round the corner of Olympia ,i had to take some shots. ....
This is the long line of people on the Hammersmith road on the 23rd July.
Around the corner by Olympia station was the end of the queue ,mighty long.
Now this was not the line for people wanting to buy tickets ,but people who had tickets ,the basis comes down to the way the tickets where sold i think, as tickets purchased could be used on any day, so they had no way of knowing how many would turn up on each day. (remember i said Friday was spacious to walk around)
So what went wrong ,i can sum it up here for you, the show has had a quite a lot of media footage and London being a place of varying cultures ,people are interested in events like this. Now if i had to give a percentage of how Hyper Japan gave the Japan experience to the visitors (those that got in that is) i would have to say out of 100% and i think am being generous here i would give it 35%.
The queues outside showed a varying demographic of the public from children to people in their later years so to speak. And people from all walks of life. You see when you put on a show that's say a martial arts show ,you put on martial arts ,you know that martial art fans and practitioners are going to turn up .
You put on a show of Doctor Who (there's one in Olympia 1) and Doctor Who fans will turn up and they will all have a great time because there there for the sole reason of the feature on offer.
Now for Hyper Japan ,no'1 Firstly the venue was to small for the amount of people that turned up (many had to go back home /get refunds ect!) . Now each person has a idea of what Japan is to them . I as a Martial artist would have expected some martial arts display, a feature on the Samurai and something about Karate which has become so huge worldwide since the 60's (and all from Japan) .
Secondly ,Japan is about Technology ,where was all the tech stuff ,new ideas in TV,video,music devices, I am sure if they had contacted people like Toshiba,JVC and such like they could have had a cool gadget section......Yes there were games from Nintendo and Namco (or should i say Bandai Namco) ,no SEGA ,WHAT HAPPENED?
Apart from Third Window Films ,there was no one else there about film or selling films for that matter , There are a lot of sellers of Japanese cinema who i am sure would have done well at the show. Nothing about films ,especially when Japan is having a great time with some new wave directors and film makers releasing new and original ideas, think about films like Gantz,Robogeisha,Machine Girl and more.
Now i might upset a few people here ,but Kanon Wakeshima is not really the face of Japanese music (her fanbase is limited to Ainme ,Gothic Lolita Fans from the look of the reaction at the show) . Ayumi Hamasaki ,AKB48'S ,Utada ,Kodo Kumi and many other are pushing J-POP to the world. ,No sellers of J-POP no vidoes of these stars or any other like them .
Now i do watch Anime and quite like some ,but not all,i don't mind if people like dressing up as there fave characters ,cool i say ,the cosplay thing may not be everyone's bag but each to there own i say. But i did think the theme of the show concentrated to much on this element ,to much Manga for the size of the venue .
Food wise it was a little restricted with variety lacking i thought ,though what i sampled was nice.
No arts and crafts ,wood carvings ,pottery,not much tradition on show.
There's a lot that can be done to improve on the event , because to coax people back for consecutive years Hyper Japan organizers have to broaden there outlook and represent Japan as a whole ,this can be done by incorporating the above missing elements, to appeal to a wider audience and i have read some of the comments on facebook ,Hyper Japan need to look forward and try and create a fuller experience for next year in a venue like ,Earls Court,Excel or of similar size . I for one know the martial arts community would be pleased to appear to demo and offer workshops for people . And i am sure if they contacted big boys like Toyota ,Honda and Nissan they could get some big sponsorship.
Think of it ,Culture,food ,full Japanese restaurant set ups ,Martial art displays and workshops,play area for the kids, A crazy assault course like on the Japanese game shows . Feature sports .you have to open your eyes and cater for everyone.
But saying that i did not dislike my time at the show , but was let down by some aspects ,but then if i had waited outside for 1 or 2 hours or more to get in ,i probably would have NOT been impressed.
But you have to give the Hyper Japan Guys and Gals 100% for trying as events like these are few and far between and if they can pull it off next year in a bigger better show with more content then it may open the gates for more shows of it's kind taking place in London and surrounding areas. Think of it ''KOREA WORLD '' CHINA expo'' THAI - LAND '' . cOOL !
Sertes Nake. July 2011
I always tell it like it is , i think i have been honest about the show and i do hope the problems this year can be addressed and that more content can be added in a bigger venue. If Hyper Japan need any help with introductions to martial arts people who will do demos and workshops ,i will oblige . You have to support events like this other wise fans of Far Eastern Culture will only get a chance to experience these things by traveling to said country and not everyone can afford extravagant holidays in these times.
Leave your comments below, NO ! ABUSIVE language please.