Cosplayers and anime fans gathered to celebrate their love for all things okatu, make new friends, and pose for pictures with strangers at the International Event of Cool Japan that took place June 6 at the Star Rise Tower (just next to Tokyo Tower). According to their website, the goal of the event was to provide a place for people from around the world to enjoy anime and Japanese culture together. They helped facilitate that by making the tickets extremely affordable for even the most budget-conscious cosplayer. IECJ 2015 tickets cost just 1,000 ¥ (less than $10 USD) for cosplayers, which is a steal compared to some other events of that size. I only recently become interested in cosplay after moving to Japan from America last year, so I’m pretty new to the whole sub-culture. That being said, I try to participate in every event that I can so I can learn the tips and tricks from the real pros. When AroundAkiba asked me to report of course I enthusiastically said “YES!” In fact, I was so excited that I forgot I was already scheduled to work somewhere else that same morning. Undeterred, I worked my morning shift, and then hopped the train out to Tokyo Tower with my cosplay duffel bag in tow. When I finally arrived the event was already half over. I went upstairs to change into my cosplay, Cyan from Show By Rock! and while I was changing I noticed that there was only 1 other cosplayer getting ready at that time. I was already anxious about being late and the near-empty dressing room made me wonder what the atmosphere would be like in the event hall. As I got close to the entrance I could hear blaring convention music. I’ve been to enough events to know that that means either the event is awesome, or there’s nobody in there and the staff is playing upbeat music to try to compensate for the poor attendance. I took a deep breath and made my way in. To my surprise, there was still such a large group of both cosplayers and spectators! Usually people trickle in and out of large events, but not this crowd; they were in it for the long haul. The people I spent time with stayed until the staff kicked us out of the space and made us go change back into our street clothes. Some of them had been there since the doors opened! In addition to cosplay, the IECJ also featured some cool stage presentations highlighting Japanese culture.
Performances included Ryo!, the modern samurai, and the Japanese sword team IDEAL, who gave an exciting sword fighting demonstration set to music. Award winning cosplayers and a few cosplayer super stars also made an appearance. We even were able to enjoy a few mini-concerts. The crowd was entertained by 和style.café AKIBA, a cute girl band, Re:Diva2.5, a vocaloid cosplay band, a few other groups. I was only able to see the 和style.café AKIBA show, and they were a big hit with the fans. Luckily some fellow cosplayers shared the videos that they took of the shows that I missed, and all the bands were cute and talented- like they could be anything but! I saw all the characters you know and love- plus new characters like a Titan, a Minecraft themed cosplay, Master Chief from Halo, and group cosplays like The Price of Tennis. After walking around, posing with other cosplayers, and taking pictures for this report, I had worked up quite an appetite. I was relieved to find that yakisoba and drinks were available for purchase, because I had forgotten to bring a snack with me. I was pleasantly surprised that the price was pretty reasonable for convention food (700 ¥ for food and a bottled drink). Just as you’d expect from Japan, I found the staff to be extremely friendly and helpful. The staff went out of their way to help me find the vendor I was supposed to meet up with, and even came back later to ask if I found who I was looking for. Since it was an international event I walked around listening for English. Whenever I found other English speakers I made it my mission to stop and talk with them about their impressions about the day’s activities and about their experiences in Japan. Even those who came out just to see what the “whole weird cosplay world” was all about said that they really enjoyed it, and some said they’d even consider cosplaying in the future. Everyone I spoke with said they had fun and that they enjoyed the different performances and demonstrations. If you find yourself thinking about attending a cosplay event in Japan, I encourage you to. The great thing about this community is that most people are friendly, talkative, and happy to take pictures with you, so you’re bound to make some new friends- even if you don’t speak the language. I wish I could have been there for the whole day, so you better believe that next year I’ll be sure not to miss the first half! Even though I missed some great performances, I have enjoyed searching Twitter for pictures and videos of the event.
Overall, I’d say that this event was a hit. It was fun, cheap, and it provided an opportunity to show off my new cosplay and take pictures with other enthusiasts. I had a great time and look forward to attending next year-and you should, too. I hope to see you there! Event Website: http://www.cooljapanevent.com/ Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/International-Event-of-Cool-Japan/1571902609758486 Twitter hashtags #IECJ, #コスプレ国際交流会