HYPER JAPAN Energizes the UK

The largest Japanese culture event in the United Kingdom, Hyper Japan is now in its fourth year, and growing more popular with each outing.

When this writer arrived at the scene at Earl’s Court in West London on opening day, the line to get in stretched literally all the way around the building, with more people (many of whom were cosplay-ready) joining the queue every few seconds.

Soon after the doors had been officially opened, everyone moved in quickly and there was a mood of excited anticipation as we feasted our eyes on the many treats held within the exhibition centre. It may have just been my first impression, but it looked as though there weren’t as many exhibitors this year as there could have been as quite a bit of empty space was still available to be filled. Aside from that momentary disappointment, everyone seemed to be having a good time, especially around the various stages set-up for performances by amateur J-Pop fans and professional Japanese performers like Siro-A (a group that recently took London by storm and will be returning soon to Leicester Square Theatre due to popular demand).

Another highlight of this year’s Hyper Japan is the visit of several authentic geisha from Japan, including the Australian-born Sayuki who gave a talk about geisha culture.

The first thing most visitors will notice when entering is the Nintendo display, where you can try out several of their new devices including the WiiU console and the handheld 3DS system. If you’re lucky, you will catch Luigi (sadly unaccompanied by his brother Mario) making an appearance, happy to shake hands and take photos with you, as this writer did, which brought a smile to his face and a twinkle to his eye as he nostalgically recalled his childhood years of playing Super Mario Bros.

Moving on past all the video games from Bandai and others, you may find a Food & Drink demonstration area where attendees can have a seat and enjoy a short show featuring different aspects of Japanese cuisine, from cocktails to sushi. Fortunately, free samples are included! If you want to get a full taste of the incredible range of Japanese food and drink, however, you must fork out £10-15 extra, but it will be worth it considering you get to try up to 20 different kinds of sake and 10 kinds of sushi, which the taster is then encouraged to vote on. High quality sake producers and sushi chefs are taking part in these special events, so it’s a rare opportunity to broaden your palate if you are so inclined.

Another highlight of this year’s Hyper Japan is the visit of several authentic geisha from Japan, including the Australian-born Sayuki who gave a talk about geisha culture.

If you are even a little bit interested in Japan and its bountiful cultural products then this is certainly a must-attend event. There are plenty of things to look at and purchase if you have a healthy wallet. Already we are looking forward to next year when it is sure to be even more developed. If you would like to know more about this event, please visit their website here.

By Tim Holm

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