This weekend, I returned to Hyper Japan! 😊
This celebration of Japanese pop culture has long been my favourite expo, but I stopped attending when my son Zack was born. Now that he’s a bit more grown up, I attended once again and it was amazing!
It’s taken place in several locations in the past but this year it returned to Kensington Olympia, which is a far better venue than the Tobacco Docks due to how spacious it is. Despite the growing popularity of this expo, it never felt crowded or cramped. In fact, the crowds flowed quite smoothly.
There was plenty to see and do. Nintendo usually has a big presence at Hyper Japan and this year was no exception. Their latest console, the Switch, had a bunch of games to play with virtually no waiting time (which you would find unbelievable if you’d ever attended a large video games expo like EGX).
I have to admit the Switch is far smaller and lighter than I anticipated. It’s still a bit too big for my commuting needs, but I could see happily see myself enjoying games in bed or on the couch when the TV is in use. In that sense, it offers pretty much the same experience my PS4 and Vita do, but without the need for a remote connection.
I also got hands on with Nintendo Labo.
This was very cool and surprisingly versatile for what was basically cardboard and a few mini-games.
My friend and I were genuinely surprised at the innovation of using a console to pilot a controller (instead of the other way around). Nintendo fail hard sometimes, but they also succeed hard. The Switch is very much a success – and not just in terms of sales.
In addition to the video games, there were also dedicated areas for board games including the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game.
Expos like this offer card game players a chance to meet up and play as a large group. I’ve never taken an interest in the past but have recently become more interested thanks to a friend of mine who loves tabletop games and – of course – a card game being invented for Final Fantasy.
The Square Enix representative I spoke to was incredibly friendly and helpful and showed me and a couple of other people how the game was played. It seems thoughtful, strategic, intelligent and fun. I left with a lot of free cards to get me started 🙂
There was a tonne of merchandise on offer. Pokemon had a big presence as always.
There were some cool looking snowglobe-esque Pokeballs housing model gardens.
And plenty of unofficial Pokemon themed artwork.
I found some lovely artbooks and material related to Studo Ghibli.
I also discovered some glass frames with artwork from Your Name that looked utterly gorgeous.
Between freebies and purchases, I ended up with a few nice things for myself, my wife Elle and my son.
I got my wife some Onsen salts to use in a bath.
While I’m not certain of the scent, it had a green colour and smelled quite nice.
I also got some Mio sparkling sake, which is usually on sale at these expos. It’s a very light and sweet sake that is perfect for drinking chilled in the spring and summer.
One of the greatest things about Hyper Japan is the food court, which sells a wide variety of popular Japanese cuisine. Lots of free samples of food and drink were handed out, including sake, iced tea, mochi, and raw wasabi on crackers… which was so intense that it absolutely destroyed me 😛
My friends and I each queued at different stalls to get our meals.
I went for a rice bowl with shredded wagyu beef, edamame and pickled ginger. While I’m not big on red meat, I really enjoyed this.
We sat on the floor in a large spacious area in front of a stage, catching and trading Pokemon in Pokemon Go. Imagine our surprise when right in the middle of the meal, Ken Watanabe walked onto the stage!
If you’re not familiar with him, he is a famous Asian actor who has also starred in a lot of high profile Hollywood blockbusters. At the expo, he was talking about his theatre performance in The King and I with a fellow actor.
The stage also hosted a Bon Odori challenge. A dancer organised us into a large circle to perform a traditional Bon Odori dance in synchronisation. While I wasn’t in the mood to participate, it was fun watching it while we kicked back with a drink.
We went to view a wasabi workshop in a separate room. Here they showed us how to make wasabi mayonnaise from scratch using a few volunteers from the crowd. We got to try some with tortilla chips and it was actually delicious.
On top of that, we tried a few other culinary delights.
And we also caught a glimpse of this rather civil yet painful looking fight.
Overall, it was a fantastic day! I genuinely love Hyper Japan and hope to continue attending for many years. I would even like to attend with Elle, as she has done this expo with me in the past. Perhaps we could make it a family trip with our little one 🙂
Are you familiar with Hyper Japan? If not, you can check out their official website here.
Thanks for reading, folks!