For the last ten years, one weekend every year, the London Olympia becomes a bastion of all things Japanese, as Hyper Japan comes to town. This event is a celebration of all things from the Land of the Rising Sun, from the music, clothes and movies, to the industry and tourism from the various provinces. This year we had the chance to attend Hyper Japan, and here are five of the things we loved most about it!
Hyper Japan really does have something for everyone. You like movies? There are stalls for that. Games? There’s a whole section set aside for those. Music? They’ve got live performances! Heck, do you want to learn about Japanese board games, musical instruments or food? They’ve got stalls, workshops and demonstrations of all these things, along with plenty of opportunities to get hold of both soft drinks, and Japanese beer and plenty of free sake tastings for those who like their beverages a little harder.
The Gaming Section
The gaming section literally covers the gamut from Japanese board games like chess, through retro gaming consoles like the Dreamcast and SNES, right up to current generation games and consoles. A great opportunity to introduce a younger generation to classic retro games as well as test out the latest and greatest from companies like Nintendo and Tecmo Koei.
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On display near the gaming section was what looked, at first glance, like something akin to a basketball court. What it turned out to be was a new “techno-sport” called Hado. Essentially this is Augmented Reality dodgeball. Players form teams of three wearing AR headsets along with a wrist mounted device which is what allows players to attack the opposing team. Opposing teams can then “shoot” at each other to score points and it’s certainly an energetic sport, a frantic melee of dodging bodies and flailing arms.
It’s impossible to have an event like this without the cosplayers coming out in droves! Half the fun is wandering around and trying to identify who everyone is and which fandoms are being mashed up with which other fandoms. There were a lot of characters from Sailor Moon and Attack on Titan this year, as well as a rather curious Deadpool/Sailor Moon mashup which managed to be far cuter than anything like that had a right to be. There were also facilities for both cosplay repair, and resources for helping people to get into making their own costumes.
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The entirety of the upstairs balcony is given over to the traders, selling everything from comics and art, to clothes, cosplay weapons, and toys. There’s a massive selection of goods on sale. It’s a great opportunity to talk one on one with content creators, as you will see a lot of self-published artists there. Personally the highlight here was getting to speak to Simon Furman, a name well known to anyone familiar with Generation 1 Transformers, who was selling his new comic To the Death (which is well worth picking up, by the way). If there was one nitpick, it would be that the market was very… pink. There was a very heavy focus on the cuter end of things there and it could get just a bit overwhelming.
…and two things we didn’t love.
The “Eat-Japan” Section
Although we loved the variety of food on offer, a large portion of “Eat Japan” was closed off to the public on the Friday, which led to people cramming into the space that was available. By 2pm, 2 hours after opening, this resulted in massive queues for almost every single food stall, and some stalls actually running out of food not even halfway through the day. Not sure if the stallholders simply underestimated the number of people who would be there on Friday but this did lead to some frustration. There were other more mainstream food places on the ground floor, but they mostly sold cakes/coffee. Maybe next time we should bring our own additional food?
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Godzilla (or the lack thereof)
Come on Hyper Japan! There was ONE stall in the entire place selling anything Godzilla related, and even then it was a tiny fraction of what he had for sale. What’s going on? Embrace your inner kaiju! Revel in the repeated destruction of that poor Gulf petrol station in every Godzilla movie for the past 50 years! Hmph. Thirty different stalls selling Death Note merch, but not even one dedicated to the King of the Monsters himself.
All in all, Hyper Japan is a great time, filled with passionate fans both attending and selling. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about the culture, this is a great place to start.