The Tobacco Docks were filled with evergreen trees and fairy lights, setting the scene for this year’s Hyper Japan Christmas Market. Moving from the 02 summer venue, this marked my first time at London Tobacco Docks, rustic and different from the likes of the sweltering Olympia and Excel it was chilly, so wrap up warm if you ever happen to go there again in the winter.
Friday I arrived at around 4pm and headed straight to the live stage, as I entered Shinobi-Try were in mid performance. A ninja performance group, the stunts and choreography were incredible. I stayed in the live stage area and waited for Lacroix Desphere, a Visual Kei Japanese band from France to perform. Although I hadn’t heard of them before the event, I think they were my personal favourite act that weekend. Lacroix Despheres is a six person band ft guitars, clarinet and wind instruments.
Afterwards I watched the Production IG panel led by Naoyoshi Shiotani, Animation Director. Production IG are behind Ghost in the Shell, Kuroko no Basket, Blood+, Psycho-Pass, and the animated sequences from Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1. Shiotani was very charming, and even prepared a presentation to show the audience pictures of their office and their favourite pizza place etc. It seems the staff at Production IG eat a lot of pizza…
Of course 7pm arrived and where previously people had been sitting there was a sudden mad rush to the front of the stage, desperate to get a good spot and watch headliner Ladybaby play. There first performance in the UK, Ladybeard talked about all the sites he had visited including Big Ben and eating traditional fish and chips. Sadly Rie Kaneko could not make the event for personal reasons but Ladybeard and Rei Kuromiya put on a brilliant show. Rei aged just 14, celebrated her 15th birthday with us over the weekend. Ladybaby performed only 4 song, as Ladybeard quipped, “we are fairly new and only have four tracks”. They were met with a huge encore so they performed one more song again. Again there was a scream of demands of a further encore and attendees shouted ‘play the set again!’ Alas they couldn’t, but the response and reception they received was phenomenal. If you purchased any Ladybaby merchandise from JPU Records you could also attend the Ladybaby meet and greet session and get a cheeky selfie.
Another performance I watched over the weekend was Wingworks fronted by RYO:SUKE who had the most amazing, futuristic holographic outfit. The screams from the crowds, especially the girls were madness. Screaming and waving their hands to try and touch Ryo, he often reciprocated and near the end of the performance he succumbed and jumped into the crowd where he was grabbed, hugged and stroked by a hoard of screaming fan girls. Before admirably jumping straight back on stage to finish his performance.
Minori, international fashion icon for the Shironuri style appeared in the fashion show and later a meet and greet where she was signing her new book – it would have been great if she could have had a panel like Production IG to get insider info about Japan’s fashion industry.
As you can see I spent most of my time in the live stage area, I did manage to venture outside over the weekend and wondered round what seemed like countless of exhibitors – or me just getting rather lost and walking round the same ones twice! Highlights included Ai My Maid a company based on the popular maid cafes in Japan which proved to be very popular here as well with a queue out the door all weekend. The Ai My Maid team were serving reasonably priced food and drink served with a smile. Other highlights was the super kawaii giant alpaca plushie in Tofu Cute and the exhibitor selling sushi socks!
The next Hyper Japan will be held at Olympia 15-17 July 2016