Well, Kat and I have spent the last few days here in Paris going to our very first Japan Expo. And what an Expo to attend – it’s just their 15th anniversary! So maybe it’s like this every year, or maybe this year was a bit more celebratory but there was a definite feeling of good vibes and good times in the air. And we enjoyed every minute of it.
In this the first of our ‘dispatches from Japan Expo’, a series of blog posts written by myself and Kat (our very own crayon scribbler and product manager extraordinaire) detailing our time and adventures here at Expo, I’ll give you a quick overview of what we saw, what we experienced and what we loved about Expo. My feet are killing me, my legs hurt but I have a big smile on my face from all the stuff we were lucky enough to experience.
First and foremost, I think it behooves me to point out just how massive Japan Expo is in both actual size and popularity. Many of you will be fully aware of the popularity of the Expo and have heard tales of the size, as had I, but, not unlike seeing a whale in real life for the first time, you just can’t wrap your brain around JUST how big expo is. It’s absolutely mad – with well over 200K visitors passing through its doors.
It is massive – and doing a ‘quick reccy’ to see the lay of the land can take all day. There is so much to do, see and take part in that you have to just wonder at it all. The thing that struck me the most was the focus not only on anime, manga and modern Japanese pop culture, but the huge investment in showcasing Japanese traditions, culture, sport and music. Much more so than I’ve seen elsewhere.
With many expos, there is usually a focus on Japanese culture and traditions that extend beyond anime and manga – that goes without saying. What amazed me was the focus, the availability, the relatively large section dedicated to groups to showcase Japanese culture and the participation of visitors in all these aspects was really inspiring and pretty cool. Top points of interest:
The tea drinking ceremony demonstration, storytelling, calligraphy, drumming and various traditional Japanese martial arts. More details on what I saw go down along with photos in an upcoming post – there’s just so much to talk about!
That being said, there was plenty of modern pop culture to experience. The Kawaii Village was a sight to behold – I may or may not be frightened of cutsie creatures with massive eyes, but I feel like this is neither here nor there. We even sat through a karaoke competition put on by the folks at Moshi Moshi Nippon at said Kawaii Village. Top prize went to a rather glum looking girl, who cheered up rather quickly thanks to winning a trip to Japan. If she hadn’t, well, let’s just say I wouldn’t want a trip to Japan to go to waste….
Hello Kitty was also roaming the halls at Japan Expo – it’s kinda weird and exciting to see that eternally happy, be-bowed kitty cat in real life. She was out celebrating 40 years of Hello Kitty – so if that’s your jam, make sure you celebrate. May I suggest a Hello Kitty-themed cake? I wonder where you can pick up one of those…
Japan Expo is 15!
In a wonderful twist of fate, my first outing to Japan Expo happened to coincide with their 15th birthday – which was nice. They had a lot going on but one thing that I especially enjoyed was the Japan Expo gallery – a space set up quite nicely to take visitors through the history of Japan Expo. It’s set up like a museum display with key moments in the history and timeline displayed and explained. As a visitor wanders through the various sections, picking up on fashion, cosplay and displays you get a real sense of the history of the event. My personal favourite section was the framed and mounted guest drawings from the Expos over the years. A great and rich collection of anime art as you’ll ever get. Beautifully set up and displayed with each drawing given it’s own space to be observed and appreciated.
One part I especially thought was a nice touch was a wall dedicated to drawings from visitors celebrating 15 years of Japan Expo. Our very own Kat Hall took to the board (with her own pens of course – she never leaves home without them) to leave our mark on Japan Expo 2014.
Well, that about wraps up this quick intro post giving you a brief insight into our weekend. Expect more information, more details and more tales in the coming days. We have ‘pure hunners of photies’ to share with you all. Kat just needs to sort them out first though. We’ll be using some for our posts but will include as many as we feasibly can to a public album for you to peruse at your leisure.
In conclusion, Japan Expo is a riot, well worth a visit, we have tons of photos and we hope you enjoy our posts.
Till next time, stay groovy.