London’s O2 hosted Hyper Japan at the weekend, a colourful and dazzling three-day celebration of culture and entertainment born in the land of the rising sun.

Thousands of people flocked to the Greenwich venue to explore the three large exhibition areas filled with live music, merchandise, food, art and fashion from the country that’s brought us Pokemon, PlayStation, sushi and so much more.

I went along on Saturday playing the part of a confused 40-year-old dad without much of a clue about what was going on. It sounds like a tough role, but it really wasn’t a stretch for me.

Luckily I had my 12-year-old daughter with me and she’s a huge fan of manga, anime and just about everything else Japanese.

We’ve agreed on these five highlights from the day, each presented here from our own perspective.

This Is Local London:

Games area

Me: Much of Area 1 in Hyper Japan was taken up by gaming, which in turn was dominated by Nintendo. Different consoles were on show, there was the chance to play various games from the company’s catalogue and there were gaming competitions going on. I’m of the opinion the Wii and its successor the Wii-U are just for girls and kids, so I ignored all the modern stuff and sat myself in front on an N64 for some old-school MarioKart. I was inspired I even bought the family the N64 while I was there to enjoy at home.

This Is Local London:

Sophie: The gaming area was one of my highlights of Hyper Japan because it gave visitors of the event the opportunity to play on a range of consoles and games, such as Project Diva F and MarioKart, as well as more recent games. There was also an all-day gaming competition, running through both sessions to the finals where great prizes were handed out.

This Is Local London:


Me: Much like when I went to London Comic Con, a large proportion of visitors to Hyper Japan chose to play dress-up and went along as favourite characters from books, film and TV. Unlike at Comic Con, I hardly recognised who any of the characters were. That didn’t stop me being impressed – a lot of people had clearly put a lot of effort into their outfits. As well as getting the clothes right, they also (I’m reliably informed) got the behaviour and mannerisms down too. When something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.

This Is Local London:

Sophie: Many anime fans at the event cosplayed as their favourite characters, including Kaneki Ken, Ciel Phantomhive and a large number of other popular characters. This was one of my highlights because it was interesting and it was impressive how much work the cosplayers had put into their outfits.

This Is Local London:

Colossal Titan

Me: It was a massive head that many people were getting excited about seeing. Watching my daughter excitedly rush up to it was one of my highlights.

Sophie: A huge balloon of the Collosus Titan from the anime Attack on Titan was on display near the back of Area 1, and many people were having pictures taken with it. This was one of my highlights because it was great to see the giant Titan brought to life.

This Is Local London:

Original art

Me: The eccentricity and creativity of Japanese culture shone through strongest in the eclectic range of artwork that was on show throughout the festival. From intricately drawn characters to large boards that to me looked like a collection of random splotches, there was a feast of works to gaze upon.

Sophie: Many of the stalls in Area 1 and 2 offered original art prints, as did the gallery in Building 6. Here there were paintings and sketches, as well as photos created by well known artists in Japan. This was one of my highlights because the art was interesting and unique.

This Is Local London:

Live entertainment

Me: Music ranged from the up-tempo beepy-boopy synthesiser type music to ... well, something different entirely. We caught a few of the acts performing but the one that stood out the most and was most memorable was X Japan. The duo who came on stage, Yoshiki and Toshi, looked like they were from a heavy metal band, which is what X Japan were and still are I believe. But when they played, it was just piano and vocals producing a sound that was mellow and almost classical, yet hypnotically anthemic. Very weird, very surreal but not bad at all – and the crowd were going nuts for it.

Sophie: The live entertainment, particularly in Building 6, was one of my highlights because the music was interesting and noticeably differed from the common or mainstream music found in this country. Acts included May J, X Japan and a number of other well-known Japanese artists.

This Is Local London: