Last weekend saw an explosion of J-culture in London at the HYPER JAPAN Christmas Market 2014. Smaller than the event in the summer, but still just as fun, the Christmas Market’s main focus was on shopping. Olympia in London was packed with stalls on both levels, selling everything from adorable squishy things to kawaii fashion, delicious food and drink to geeky anime goods.
I was quite drawn in by some of the things on sale, and tried not to give in, but eventually I was beaten by the incredibly soft and cute things sold by KEKIKO and a ねむネコ (Nemu Neko / Sleepy Cat) did manage to make its way home with me…
Honestly, I could have spent a fortune if I’d had a fortune to spend.
One stall that particularly grabbed my attention was CharaZOO.com:
This online store sells character goods from all over Japan. Apart from some of the more famous characters such as Kumamon and Gunma-chan I haven’t seen most of these characters outside of Japan. It’s great to know that regional characters are gaining popularity outside of Japan now, and they sure are cute!
One of the highlights at HYPER JAPAN is always the food. As I was at the show all weekend I did have the chance to sample quite a bit of what was on offer…
There was plenty more besides. One stall I really wanted to buy from was SUPERCUTE – MACARONS AND PATISSERIE. I’d already had ice cream when I saw them, so I just couldn’t eat any more, but how beautiful are these:
Also adorable were these cat cookies from MEOW MEOW COOKIE:
Tofu Cute and HYPER JAPAN teamed up for this event to bring the ‘Candy Festival’, which seemed to be very popular.
The idea was that you bought ‘Tofukens’ (tokens) for £1 each and then you could exchange them for a selection of Japanese sweets. They had Kit Kats, Pocky, chocolate, biscuits, Puccho and candy. Naturally, I chose Kit Kats…
I got some old favourites and also two new ones I hadn’t had before – there’ll be more about these over on my other blog, KitKats!, soon!
Of course, it wasn’t all about consuming, there was entertainment too. Although there was less entertainment than there has been at previous events, there was a good mix of traditional and modern.
On the traditional side we had…
And at the other extreme of the scale we had modern entertainment from…
SIRO-A never disappoint! I especially loved their new movies sketch (LOVE the Full Monty bit!) and also their Japanese-themed sketch with a wonderful nod to Monty Python at the end.
American J-Pop singer Diana Garnet, famous for winning Nodojiman THE WORLD in 2013, can sing everything from enka to anime themes. Unfortunately YouTube got a bit funny about some of the music on the videos I shot so I couldn’t upload all of them, but here’s her singing some enka. Her Japanese is really impressive.
Singer/songwriter Joe Inoue, best-known for his song ‘Closer’ which was used as an opening theme in the anime Naruto, joined Diana on stage for a unique collaboration. I really like Joe Inoue, and he reminded me a little of a young, Japanese American will.i.am.
There was talk of Joe Inoue now producing Diana garnet and they mentioned a big announcement they have planned for 1st December. They performed a song together which they said they couldn’t reveal the title of, so I guess we’ll all just have to watch this space on 1st December!
I would totally go and see Joe Inoue and Diana Garnet if they did a live show in the UK again!
UPDATE: Sony Entertainment have removed all of my Diana Garnet and Joe Inoue videos from YouTube and given me two ‘copyright strikes’. I didn’t realise I wasn’t allowed to post this material as they were live performances at an event where filming is allowed.
Of course, there was fashion too. I really enjoyed the HYPER J-Style Collection fashion show and found myself wishing yet again that I had got into Japanese culture at a younger age. I would have rocked gothic lolita/steam punk look when I was 15!
So, once again a fantastic weekend of J-culture at HYPER JAPAN. HYPER JAPAN will be back in July 2015 (dates and location to be confirmed) and also 22nd – 29th November with another Christmas Market, this time being held at London Tobacco Dock. Naturally, I’ll be there if I can!
As usual, I took far too many photos and quite a few videos. If you’d like to see the full collection of photos please visit Flickr and please check out YouTube for my videos. If you see your self in a photo and would like a copy, please contact me!