This year Hyper Japan took place 10-12 July, in the O2 Academy. It was different to your typical convention hall but I actually preferred the new venue, admittedly mainly because it is nearer to my house compared to Earls Court (R.I.P), two it has a Starbucks in sight and three I loved Building 6 which created an authentic gig vibe for the live music performances. The 02 academy is famous for the variety of performances it has played host to Gaga, Michael Buble and Take That. Unsurprisingly, Hyper Japan sought to make the most of the venues facilities by bringing top notch musical acts from Japan; X Japan, Honey Spice, Dempagumi, Lost Ash, One Note, Tokyo Girls Style, May J and the list just goes on! The acts all ranged in style; J-Pop, Visual Kei and Rock so there was something for everyone. The event even held special ‘Japan Nights’ on Friday and Saturday with extra acts including The Vamps playing.
Attending all three days, I spent Friday getting to grips with the new layout and features. My Friday highlight was definitely watching Eir Aoi perform, for those unfamiliar she is the voice behind the Kill La Kill and Sword Art Online theme songs. Her performance was great and so energetic! For those who purchased merchandise from JPU Records they could participate in fan meet and greet. I also enjoyed Lolita duo Die Milch.
Saturday I was staffing in the cosplay area so I spent most of my time in the anime and gaming park area. It was great to see all the cosplays and people participating in the cosplay workshops where attendees could make soot sprites with VCosplay (I even made one!) and cat ears and tails with Hekady, Chiquitita Cosplay and Tasha Cosplay Mackenzie. I also loved the giant Attack on Titan head, it was great prop to get a photo with and proved popular with everyone. It is a shame that at busy times people had to queue to be allowed in this section, especially those with only one morning session tickets but I do understand this was done for crowd control and so when you was in the area you could fully enjoy it without feeling like sardines in a can. A mini-highlight for me was that I managed to bump into Honey Spice and grab a photo with them! I must also give a big thanks to everyone who wished me a happy birthday and gave me a present!
Sunday, was the last day of the event but I made the most of it. I was privileged to meet anime writer/directors Kobun Shizuno and Hirokatsu Kihara who has worked on producing films such as Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service and Laputa Castle in the Sky. Despite no longer working for Ghibli he continues to be a BIG fan and he even wore a cat bus t-shirt! Sunday was my music day, I enjoyed watching performances from One Note, Honey Spice, Tokyo Girls Style and Lost Ash over in Building 6. I was unfamiliar with some of the acts so it was interesting to hear the different styles of performances. And, my god the screaming during the Lost Ash performance was insane! I even got wacked round the head (ouch!) by a screaming Daiku (lead singer of Lost Ash) fan girls glow stick.
With so many performances and things to do I couldn’t see them all and did sadly miss X Japan, MayJ (Japanese voice of Let it Go from Frozen/NHK World Presenter), Dempagumi and Heisei Kotohime,. Hopefully they will back again in the future!
Although there was a big emphasis on music this year, Hyper Japan is probably most known for bringing a range of authentic Japanese food and drink together in one place. On Friday I had okonomiyaki which shockingly I have never tried before but I thoroughly enjoyed it! Sunday it was all about the drink as I took part in the sake experience. This was an additional charge priced at £15 which can be bought before or during the event (although watch out for the 02 booking fee!). There are 11 brewers each with 2-3 sakes to try some traditional, some fruity and some sparkly. All battling it out to win one of the prestigious sake awards. The bottles featured are also available to buy at the end of the experience, if you happen to take a fancy to one of them. Some of my favourite sakes I tasted included Mio which was sweet and sparkling and an unusual peach jelly textured sake which comes in a can (this beverage actually won the peoples favourite award). After voting in the awards there was also a tombola and I was lucky enough to win some beautiful sake skin care products which I can’t wait to try!
I highly recommend the Sake Experience, it is great for sake lovers but also for newcomers to the beverage, with the samples on offer ranging in flavours and price – one of the sakes we tried cost £100 a bottle, so this is a great opportunity to try sakes you realistically might not be able to afford. I first did the experience back in 2013, which was my first real encounter with the drink and I learnt a lot as the brewers/staff are all knowledgeable and happy to explain the process, ingredients and history of the drink. Many of the sakes featured are currently, or soon will be available in the Japan Centre (next to Piccadilly station).
Overall it was a great infusion of Japanese culture and a delightful way to spend my birthday!! Thanks to everyone who made it special!
The Hyper Japan Christmas Market will be held at The Tobacco Dock on 27-29 November 2015