Apologies for the time it’s taken me to publish this post! HYPER JAPAN seems like a long time ago now, but I still thought it was worth sharing my thoughts on the event. HYPER JAPAN took place in London from 26th – 28th July, and this year I worked on a stall at the event so I haven’t tried to cover everything that took place. Instead, I’ll bring you my own personal highlights…
The absolute number one act of the event had to be SIRO-A. I saw SIRO-A perform earlier this year, and their performance at HYPER JAPAN was just as good. They were also incredibly active throughout the whole weekend, walking around Earl’s Court and posing for photos in their curious costumes.
SIRO-A will be back at the Leicester Square Theatre from 21st August – 13th October. I highly recommend getting a ticket if you haven’t seen them already! Here are a couple of videos of their act to give you a taste of what they’re like…
The show in the theatre is even better as it’s dark. Incredible stuff!
Another highlight of the event for many people was Sayuki and her Geisha Sisters.
I have to be honest – I wasn’t all that impressed by Sayuki, who claims to be ‘the first Westerner to formally debut as a geisha’. Sayuki (real name Fiona Graham) was reportedly disaffiliated by the Asakusa Geisha Association in 2011 after allegedly failing to follow customs and show proper deference to more experienced practitioners, as well as spending too much time on self-promotion. If all this is true I don’t really think she should have been allowed to come and promote herself at HYPER JAPAN. Personally I would rather see a real geisha or maiko perform.
I only caught a bit of Graham’s performance, although she was at the show all weekend, and I found her to be not as elegant as I would have expected a geisha to be. She made a joke about how she was going to sing but that she couldn’t sing very well, which I thought was quite inappropriate for a geisha (who is supposed to be a master of her arts). Graham was accompanied by four Japanese women throughout her performance – I would be very interested to know more about these women and to find out if they are simply her employees, or perhaps her apprentices. Do they consider themselves maiko or geisha, or are they simply performers?
I don’t want to seem overly negative about Graham’s performance – I’m sure for a lot of people it was interesting and the closest they have ever been to a geisha. it’s just that it didn’t really float my boat, and when it comes to Japanese culture I really do prefer the real deal rather than a Western imitation.
Talking of the real deal – there was some really good Japanese food on offer at HYPER JAPAN this year. There is always a lot of great food, but I was particularly surprised and impressed to find taiyaki, which I haven’t had since I was in Japan.
The taiyaki was from a new shop which has just opened in London called Yaki. If I was still living in London I think I would be down there for a tai yaki and iced matcha latte every weekend! Taiyaki is a fish-shaped cake made from batter, filled with (traditionally) red beans.
I was working hard at HYPER JAPAN all weekend, and managed to scoff my way through…
Okonomiyaki from OKAN Brixton Village
Takoyaki from SOYA
Wasabi ice cream from Wagashi (which was surprisingly nice!)
Slightly rubbery unagi-don
Japanese chocolate from sushinoms (mmm… Kit Kats!)
Sushi from Feng Sushi
And lots, and lots of Yakult!
I could have eaten more. (#^_^#)
Of course, HYPER JAPAN wouldn’t have been complete without lots of cool fashion and kawaii stuff, including…
ASSABOOTS – a mix between hiking boots, sandals and ballet slippers, modelled on the shoes worn by rickshaw drivers in Japan
Tabi socks – to be worn with sandals
Geta – Japanese sandals
Gorgeous and incredibly cool fashion from AOI Clothing
Tofu Cute – dresses, wigs, accessories… and sweets!
And fantastic fashion from Yanakiku
It was quite strange to be at HYPER JAPAN and yet only have snatched moments of wandering around and taking photos. I think it made me more selective about what I gave my attention to though, and I really enjoyed the performances I saw. HYPER JAPAN has grown and grown and this was the biggest show yet, with over 62,000 visitors over the three-day event. It was hot and busy, and I was utterly exhausted after three days of talking and being on my feet, but it was great to see so many people enthusiastic about Japan and Japanese culture.
The next HYPER JAPAN has already been announced for 25th – 27th July 2014. Keep an eye on the official HYPER JAPAN website for more information.