Hyper Japan – 26-28 July 2013

With an Event like Hyper Japan, the experience that  you have is totally predicated upon what you put into it as a participant.

Hyper Japan - 26-28 July 2013
Hyper Japan – 26-28 July 2013

You can easily dedicate yourself entirely to comic books and Kawaii objet d’art, or perhaps add to your collection of worryingly authentic weaponry.

For myself, I largely dedicated myself to video games, eating and drinking. With so many free drinks samples dotted around the show floor I thought it might be rather a good idea to punctuate my day with a little restorative alcohol.

Upon entering I was instantly disorientated by the mess of people and stalls so was delighted when the first thing to really grab my attention was a 7ft tall Luigi offering hugs to passers.

This is how, after bulldozing some young children out of my way, I found myself in the middle of the Nintendo zone surrounded by dozens of consoles.

A kind attendant called Paul offered to walk me through the new Wii U game Pikmin 3 and, not having ever played this series before, I was naturally terrible at it.

Gamers paradise
Gamers paradise

I could tell Paul was embarrassed for me by my complete lack of skill. Slightly ashamed I spied an enormous Phoenix Wright banner and, having spent many years being clinically addicted to these games, quickly dumped Pikmin and reacquainted myself with the Ace Attorney.

I’m now considering buying a 3DS. I’m a hopeless victim of advertising, what can I say?

Drink 1: Nikka Whisky – I’ve heard some good things about Japanese whisky and this was the proof. A really lovely blended whiskey which was smooth with not too much smokiness.

Buzz level – ‘A fine start’.

Next up was a wander around the food stalls in search of something strengthening. Without really meaning to, I found myself buying a three course meal starting with deep-fried octopus balls. These were fine but somewhat bland.

My Nice Ice tasty desert
My Nice Ice tasty desert

The bulk was provided by an Okonomiyaki, a pancake made from cabbage, cheese and sweetcorn and was far from as horrible as it sounds.

The crowning glory was provided by MyNiceIce in the form of a softball sized mass of ice shavings soaked in super sweet strawberry syrup, cream sauce and pieces of strawberry. It was the best thing ever!

Drink 2, and 3: Unnamed Japanese Wine and Umeshu – The wine was tasteless and forgettable but Umeshu, an apricot liquor was a triumph.

Buzz level – ‘Becoming strong’.

I had previously booked a ticket for the Taste of Japan cocktail making seminar so I swayed over and found myself in the front row for the class taken by Niya Martin of the Mizuwari Bar in Soho.

Niya making a cocktail
Niya making a cocktail

After diligently sampling the four different cocktails in the name of journalistic integrity I can wholeheartedly recommend the Fuulin, a delicious fruity mix of normal  and carbonated Sakes, Nashi pear and Absinthe.

Buzz level – ‘Everything here is just fine’.

At this point I was having just the best time so to keep things ticking over nicely I tramped along to the enticingly named ‘Eat-Japan Sake Experience’.

I spoke to a lot of excellently knowledgeable people who really opened my eyes to a subject I knew so little about.

From the over twenty different options (I know!) I favoured the sparkling Sakes with the undiluted Genshu Sake being the absolute winner.

Buzz level – ‘C’mon everyone, Let’s all go out yeah?’

And so my visit to Hyper Japan came to an amazing and slightly blurry end.

Cosplayers at Hyper Japan
Cosplayers at Hyper Japan

Did I mention the Street Fighter 2 tournament I joined and was schooled by everyone I faced?

Did I talk about Siro-A, a troupe of dancers whose performance was like a hybrid of a live action video game  and Hot Chip music video?

I didn’t, and that’s the crowning glory of Hyper Japan. That you can’t walk three metres without stumbling upon something amazing.

The defining aspect of fan led events such as Hyper Japan and The London Anime Con is that they provide a safe space in which attendees can openly demonstrate their passion for their own favoured subcultures in a way that on every other day of the year would earn them patronising stares.

There is an air of universal acceptance and it’s this, along with the attendees’ complete lack of cynicism and commitment to having fun that makes them so enjoyable and explains why this Hyper Japan 2013 was such a success.

Watch out for the next Hyper Japan on their Twitter page.

Words and photography by Neil McComb

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