Last Month in Osaka I was able to take part in a rare festival. It is simply called the Denden town Matsuri. This means Electric town festival. In Osaka, Nippombashi is the area where people can get computers, video games, Japanese manga and many other things. It is also famous for the litter of ‘maid cafe’s’. The maid cafes are usually filled with young ladies wearing cute maid outfits or costumes from various Japanese anime shows. This area is rather popular within the Anime lovers community usually referred to as Otaku. As a foreigner that was drawn to Japan thanks to the media that came across to the west, I am also interested in animation.
A friend of mine invited me at the last minute to this festival this year without telling me what to expect. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was a parking lot full of cars fully decked out with all the custom parts and decals. Interestingly in addition to the usual modification decals a lot of people had pasted their favorite anime characters all over their vehicles. It was pretty fly to see a gt-r with the butterfly doors plastered with Tiger and Bunny, Attack of the Titan, or even the Funabashi mascot Funasshi, which is becoming vastly popular. All the car owners were really chill and most were in costumes of their favorite animation characters as well. They were more than happy to pose for pictures no matter how many people requested. There was a bit of a crowd around all the people in costumes. They were very much like celebrities in Hollywood walking down the street.
The warm atmosphere wasn’t limited to the cosplaying (Costume play) attendees, the regular attendees were very patient and cordial with one another, leaving enough space for other enthusiastic photographers. I was so thrilled to be a part of this cultural rarity that I was beaming ear to ear and just talking to anyone that would make eye contact or stop to say hi. Everyone was very receptive and showed equal interest.
As for the cosplayers, although they were busy striking amazing poses for their many fans, they were so nice as to take pictures with me when I walked past and requested. Noticing this, I decided to pose with EVERY cosplayer I saw. My friend, a photographer was kind enough to walk around the festival with me and take over 400 pictures of my day at the festival. I saw costumes from shows such as Dragonball, One piece and Ranma, movies such as Porco Rosso, Silent Hill and Biohazard (Resident Evil) and videogames such as Vocaloid, Metal Gear, and Halo. It was amazing. The quality of the costumes was outstanding too. It wasn’t limited to Japanese media either. There was a Spiderman wearing the costume from the new movie that looked like he just walked off the Hollywood set. He also had all the spidey poses down. He must have practiced A LOT! I also came across Hit Girl from Kick Ass, Winnie the Pooh and The Joker from The Dark Knight.
At the end of the day I felt kinda like I had gotten a bunch of pictures with celebrities, but at the same time I felt like I had a completely Japanese cultural experience. The energy was totally different from Halloween. The attention to detail and warm atmosphere were too much a part of the deep Japanese culture. It was particularly interesting how the usually shy and humble people I see on the street on my every day commute stood there so confident in sometimes less than sufficient clothing for the weather that day showing off their costumes. They seemed proud of their creations and willing to share it with so many people that had the same hobby as them. I continue to find out more about this country through the most random media. I am looking forward to enjoying the festival next year in costume :).