Five thousand seven hundred and thirteen miles – quite the distance to travel for a place you may or may not enjoy, well that’s the distance between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and the far eastern isles of Japan. For me personally, there was no doubt in my mind I had to visit but for others, the distance may be just too much of a risk. That is why once a year a great opportunity arises as Japan comes to you. Hyper Japan.
What makes someone decide to travel for almost a day on a flight to the opposite side of the planet? Is it because you’ve tried a Japanese restaurant and the food blew your mind so you just had to visit that exotic distant land? Is it an anime film that made you wonder what the people were like from a country that could create such magical animated worlds? Perhaps it was playing Pokémon or Final Fantasy that had you wishing to see the advanced futurist cities of Nihon? Whatever the reason sometimes it just isn’t enough to push you to travel that distance but Hyper Japan is a great way of finally tripping over that line.
Trade stalls covering culture, entertainment, fashion, food, and general shopping all come together for a long weekend to give London a taste of Japanese life. There are also workshops and live shows for getting more hands-on and guest Japanese stars such as singers also show up to entertain. If cosplay is your thing don’t be afraid to dress to impress as a huge number do exactly that and can even win.
FOOD AT HYPER JAPAN
The arena is split into zones to keep some order as the crowd is huge, Japanophiles come from all over the country to get their japan fix. .
We started at the food court on the second floor because as you enter the arena the smell of delicious Japanese cuisine fills your nostrils.
The selection is quite comprehensive with sushi, okonomiyaki and my favourite katsu curry. For dessert some matcha ice cream and Japanese beer on tap or some colourful Japanese soft drinks to wash it all down.
The food is all made on site in front of you and you’ll keep coming back for more.
GAMING AT HYPER JAPAN
The gaming section was next. This year there was a large Nintendo stall for the game Yo-kai on 3DS where visitors could have a shot of the game and ask any questions on how to play the game properly.
I have to admit I enjoyed the game so much I bought it.
There was also a booths for PlayStation and a few other gaming experiences. The area was full of gamers raring to have a shot at new releases and to just have a chat about their experiences.
There was also some fun for the kids such as doing the Yo-kai dance and getting on stage.
ANIME AND MANGA AT HYPER JAPAN
Anime and manga fans were in heaven, the amount of stalls dedicated to manga books, anime dvds, character models, character cosplay costumes, recreated weapons and far more was staggering.
The stall keeps certainly knew their stuff when it came to the industry and any advice on what to buy or where to get a certain piece of merchandise was dished out.
There was also screenings and guest speakers visiting for those that want to learn a little bit more about the industry.
CULTURE AT HYPER JAPAN
For those looking for a bit more culture there are stalls dedicated to Japanese arts such as bonsai trees, martial arts, the Japanese language and the art of drinking Japan’s national drink – sake.
The bonsai tree is the art of growing a tree through controlled growth in a container creating dwarf trees that are beautiful to look at and calming to the mind while maintaining.
At Hyper Japan there is a large area dedicated to the selling of these miniature trees and some workshops on how to grow them.
I’ve always wanted a bonsai tree but yet to get one, this stall though really tempted me.
Martial arts displays are carried out through the day showing judo, jujitsu and karate so if you feel like re-enacting Daniel Sans crane kick then feel free to volunteer.
And finally the for the sake there is the Sake Experience, this workshop requires a separate ticket to be bought, which sells out quick, but in the workshop you have a selection of 30 sakes to try from.
This year we never got to experience it but hopefully next time we will. Sake can be an acquired taste but it’s definitely something to try at least once.
Everyone knows Japanese isn’t an easy language but the stalls dedicated to learning try to make it easier and fun by offering courses and online sites that teach through comics and films, I certainly hope to learn a few phrases one day.
Watshiwa nihonngo wo naraitai!!
SHOPPING AT HYPER JAPAN
So for those that want to buy Japanese nick-nacks, inventions, clothing or house hold goods there is plenty to choose from. Half of the second floor is dedicated to stalls that bring the east to you.
Ever wanted to own your own kimono? There’s a stall for it.
A large selection for both male and female with a wide selection of colours and patterns. On site staff are very friendly with sizing and matching colours to your style. Again I’ll admit I took one for myself and wear it around the house.
While perusing the stalls we came across a very friendly couple that are a new business hoping to bring Japanese household items to western folks. These items range from microwavable poached egg makers, toilet seat warmers or bento boxes.
The Japanese have a very small space to work with at home which means no large cookers or cupboard so they use microwaves a lot and try to use space efficiently, this means they have pioneered in being able to cook different foods in the microwave and how to fold items away.
We bought the poacher as we just had to give it a try, we still use it to this day. KANTAN LIVING is currently retail online and I sincerely advise you to check them out.
The most random nick-nacks can be bought, from kawaii designed phone covers to key chains, wall mounts, jewellery and cosplay items, items that you never considered but well worth a look.
ENTERTAINMENT AT HYPER JAPAN
A quarter of the arena is taken up by a stage that throughout the weekend holds host to a plethora of guests and shows. There is live music from J-pop and J-rock bands, karaoke to anime themes, the cosplay costume competition and many more.
You could spend the entire day watching the Japanese crazy.
FINAL THOUGHTS ABOUT OUR EXPERIENCE AT HYPER JAPAN
Now after seeing, hearing, feeling and tasting japan for the weekend it may have finally pushed you over that edge and given you the desire for adventure in Japan well onsite in the arena are stalls dedicated to holidays with tour groups or by yourself. These range from temple holidays to skiing holidays to city adventures but don’t hesitate to take a look as you won’t regret it.
Though the main Hyper Japan only comes around once a year there is a second, Christmas Market Hyper Japan event that takes place. I highly recommend visiting one of these events as it gives you a great experience of what can be expected in Japan.
As a previous visitor of Japan Hyper Japan brought up memories and made me really want to go back, its authentic feel and its Japanese visitors gives you the real sense of Japanese culture. Five thousand seven hundred and thirteen miles, seems a lot but Hyper Japan can be considered that first step.
Note: This post was written by Gary, my boyfriend, travel companion and major Japanophile
We received press passes for the purpose of this review, but as always all opinions stated are our own.
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