Hyper Japan and Inside the Upside Down
Back to work this week after four days in London to attend Hyper Japan 2022 Festival and other wonderings around the capital.
This was, I think, my fifth time attending the Hyper Japan Festival but the first time visiting Evolution London as a venue. As in previous years this event had been held at The Olympia or The Tobacco Docks, prior to the pandemic. Obviously this was the first such festival since the plague and people were very keen to attend over the three days it was held.
A Brief Overview
“The UK’s biggest J-culture event, launched in 2010. The event introduces the diversity of contemporary Japan, from manga and anime, to music, fashion, food, traditional culture, gaming, technology, tourism and more. In addition to a fantastic line-up of exhibitors (companies and Japanese local government), the event is jam-packed with individual exhibitors, stage performances, workshops, seminars, and more.“https://hyperjapan.co.uk/about-us/
Naturally, me being me, arrived in London in eager anticipation before the event opened , so while I waited for my partner in adventures to arrive I took a walk to this big posh house, hopefully for a cuppa tea, but obviously they didn’t get my fax. So I sat on the steps in a deliberate attempt to get into as many tourist photos as possible.
However my side quest was not in vain as I discovered an interesting exhibition nearby, I made a mental note of this, made my way to greet my friend from Lincoln and finally to Hyper Japan 2022.
I have been ridiculously excited about this event as there are a lot of features I love, there is usually a whole food hall with tasters and samples to enjoy, a huge Nintendo presence, a lot of information on travel and tourism and a large focus on Japanese Culture, history and Sake. None of which (apart from the Sake) where there! … I am going to give the organisers the benefit of the doubt as this was the first festival since lock down, I also have the experience of previous events for comparison and this was nothing like previous years.
To begin with the venue of the event was really dreadful to find, with no nearby tube stations and no parking. I felt that the place lacked basic requirements; no water, no WiFi, no ATM, no charging points, no inside seating areas, no space around the stage, no on site catering and aggressive security staff… However these are are issues I feel relate more to The Evolution London and not necessary Hyper Japan organisers.
Having said that, I felt that there was a lot missing from the actual event itself. with only a few food stalls, with 45 minute queues, no Nintendo, very little relating to Japanese Culture, history or travel. The majority of the stalls were all kawaii pinky products, funkos or plushies. I felt like there was very little variety and the whole set up felt more like a large market than an event.
But that didn’t stop me having fun, I was with good company after all and we enjoyed people watching, admiring the cosplayers and making the most of a weekend in London. Even though we had brought ourselves a three day ticket. I felt we had covered everything on the Friday afternoon and we started to look at other things to do over the weekend.
Keeping with the Japanese theme, we discovered a Miffy pop up event at Ichiba Japan Centre, so seeing as we were in the neighbourhood, it would be rude not to pop in to a pop up event and (as usual) we were there early! Far be it for us to sit and twiddle our thumbs while we wait, there’s more shenanigans to be had, even within half an hour… So it just so happened that Ichiba is situated right near the Upside Down House and it had just opened, clearly this was a side quest that was just meant to be.
Inside the Upside Down
By the time we had defied gravity the Miffy event had opened up and we took our seats to learn Origami, eat Japanese food meet Miffy and spend way too much on Washi Tape, which became an ongoing theme.
In the afternoon we returned to Battersea to Evolution for the afternoon session of Hyper Japan and this is where things got messy. The gates were locked, long before the morning session was due to end, meaning that we were kept waiting outside in extreme heat for what turned out to be nearly two hours, instead of 30 minuets. We were in the 3 day ticket line, meaning that this was actually a short wait in relation to those who had just got a Saturday afternoon ticket, who were left circling around the park for hours as the organisation collapsed into chaos with some people reporting on social media that they were still waiting at 5pm, when the event closed at 7pm. There are a lot of complaints online, which are quite valid due to the circumstances – most of which I could write a whole blog on alone.
So we made the most of the afternoon, once we finally got in, watched some sword fighting, met Hello Kitty and spent way too much money on more washi tape.
Before retiring to a pub to make plans for Sunday Shenanigans …
After the previous days mayhem, we decided to go early for the last day and this turned into a final shopping spree, with a last look around to buy items which have caught our attention. Say our farewells to friends we had met up with, grab some Japanese food for lunch and even more wahsi tape!
Finally leaving the 2022 Hyper Japan around 2pm, with the event finally closing that day at 5pm.
However, this doesn’t mean our weekend was over. Remember the exhibition I noticed at the big shiny house I popped by on Friday? Well this turned out to be the ‘Japan Courts and Culture’ exhibition at The Queens Gallery Buckingham Palace. It would be rude not to attend, after all it fitted in with the whole theme of the weekend and gave us one final adventure.
What a truly magical way to end the weekend, with such an incredible collection of beautiful Japanese craftsmanship and not a single roll of washi tape in sight.