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O2

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This past weekend we only had one destination in mind (after a rather busy house party on Saturday), and that was the twice-annual event Hyper Japan. The Far East nation has always been on our travel wishlist, way up there near the top as well, yet we’ve never made it there for one reason or another. In our teens we dreamed of becoming a computer games programmer and moving to Japan where we could really indulge in geeking it up, making and playing video games (strictly SEGA of course, in those days) and generally having a nerdy blast in a country that’s a complete other world, both culturally and socially. Alas, that dream never materialised, but we will make it to Japan one day…

In the meantime, Hyper Japan is a good way to dip one’s proverbial toe in the Far Eastern water. We’d been before, a few years ago in 2010, and had a great time, we also went to a Cosplay event at the Excel Centre in 2009, which was even more fun. In case you’re unaware, Cosplay is a fantastic subculture based around people dressing up as their favourite Anime characters – or making up their own fantasy outfits. There are varying degrees of Cosplay, from simple cat ears (very popular) and accompanying tail, all the way up to full-on helmets, masks and elaborate outfits, some of which the enthusiasts have taken time to fashion themselves.

A lot of Cosplay lovers are teenagers who are a tad geeky, which is great because it encourages them to express their fun, creative side and be confident enough to dress in an outlandish manner in public. Something we probably would have loved as shy, angst-ridden youngsters ourselves. Particular favourites include the retro ‘Lolita’ style of dress, which harks back to the 18th and 19th Century, with a British influence filtering into the gothic-leaning styles. We also love the fact that everyone who we took pictures of immediately pulled off some kind of dynamic or whimsical pose without so much as a second thought, brilliant!

Besides the Cosplay, Hyper Japan also showcases a cross section of the nation’s wonderful culinary culture, with (of course) lots of sushi on offer, along with numerous stalls serving up noodle dishes and the like. YUM. Anime comics and films are also on display in abundance. We’re massive fans of films like Akira and the like, with a huge soft spot for Japanese animation and art, from the incredibly detailed imagery of some artists through to the ultra simplistic, cutesy stuff. Such a distinctive and inspirational style. Alongside the comics are tons of toys, furry ones, tiny ones, all in bold bright colours. Trinkets aplenty, steam-punk fancy dress, an insane amount of wigs, some of which were ridiculously elaborate, singers, dancers, a whole separate section for video games and several fashion stalls made this a very worthwhile trip.

We can’t wait for the Christmas Market, plans are afoot for our very own Cosplay outfits…

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