Neko’s Shiritori attended Hyper Japan Festival 2015 in London. It was a packed three days with activities from sake seminars and bento classes to traditional dance and idol group performances. For the first time, Hyper Japan was hosted in The O2 which was easier to get to from Central London since you can get there by bus, Tube, boat and even cable car!
Friday and Sunday were full-day sessions, whereas Saturday was split into two sessions; morning and evening. All of the participants had to leave the building in between sessions. Because The O2 is currently home to many more restaurants and a cinema, Hyper Japan was split into four main sections; the gaming area, main area, the food court, and Building Six. This meant that there were wristband checks for entrance into each area.
The gaming area was dominated by Nintendo with their large selection of games such as Yoshi’s Wooly World and the incredibly popular Splatoon. They also had a stage for demonstrating gameplay which streamed online. There was also a retro gaming area ran by The Heart of Gaming and a stall for Kodansha Europe. Sometimes the area was full so people had to line up outside.
The main area was where quite a few of events were taking place since there were two stages. It was further split into smaller areas; categorising stalls for merchandise (e.g. clothes and CDs), cold food (e.g. shaved ice and Japanese sweets) and also the artist alley. There were also stalls for people who would like to learn more about Japanese culture and travel to Japan.
The food court provided hot food and people that wanted to try out sake had to have a separate ticket. A problem I noticed was that there wasn’t any benches in the area so that people could sit down and eat. There were a few benches between the areas but they were often full. A lot of people opted to eat at the restaurants outside the Hyper Japan area.
Building Six hosted the largest live stage, a bar, maid café, garden, Dempagumi.inc gallery and theatre for anime viewings. Right outside the exit of Building Six was the meet and greet area where people could get autographs and photos with the performers.
Overall we enjoyed our time at Hyper Japan. It combined many aspects of Japanese culture and we saw that it has grown in popularity from when it was in Earl’s Court. The venue change had better transport links, also allowing more space between the stalls and more stages. The wristband checks into each area came with the move to The O2 so while it delayed people shortly, we felt that it was necessary and it was conducted as fast as possible.
Things that could be improved are there should be more signs to guide people to each of the areas; Building Six was hard to find on Friday because of this and the staff also weren’t able to direct us. Another possible improvement is to add a seating area to the food court as mentioned above.
We would like to thank Hyper Japan staff for allowing us to cover Hyper Japan Festival 2015 and we definitely look forward to attending again.