I know that I am long overdue an exciting kawaii/Japanese-related post, so it is lucky that I attended the Hyper Japan festival again on Saturday 11th July!! This year I only attended for one day because Pixie couldn’t make it with me due to having to attend a wedding, so instead I brought another one of my best friends along! She has never been to a convention before so it was really exciting for her! This was my third time attending a HJ convention and I’ll be honest that it was nothing compared to last year, I was pretty disappointed.
First of all I was extremely tired as I couldn’t get to sleep the night before and ended up getting about 3 or so hours sleep (and on the sofa I might add). It was lucky that I heard my brother get up thanks to his annoyingly loud bedroom door lock otherwise we might not have made the convention at all because I stupidly set an alarm on a weekday alarm! We got up when we were supposed to though as Vince was getting up at 6am too, so after a long battle with make-up and eyelashes, we hit the road and boarded our train at 08:01am T_T.
We took lots of pictures on the way there, and J spent plenty of her time practicing her ‘kawaii poses’ for photos! This is all brand new to her and I think she had a lot of fun! Of course I took some selfies! I wore my ‘Aymmy in the Batty Girls’ t-shirt and wore twintails and Zipper Girl make-up! Teamed with red jewellery, lips and my red sneaker wedges, I was very pleased with my outfit considering I put it together on Friday after changing my mind on what I was originally going to wear!
After swapping trains, we eventually got into London Waterloo! We topped up our Oyster cards and rode the tube to North Greenwich for the O2 where the event was being held. We spent about an hour in the beating down sun in the queue; I was too hot and bothered to take photos but thankfully the line kept moving. I’ve never been in the O2 before, it’s a very big ‘village’ of restaurants and a cinema. I was quite disappointed with the venue choice actually and I’ll comment on that throughout this post but basically everything was split up across the O2 and it wasn’t labelled very clear as to where things were. I much preferred it being in Earl’s Court because it was altogether in one massive hall and organised clearly into sections.
After what felt like a lot of unnecessary walking to the other end of the O2, we were greeted with a tiny fenced off section for the Hyper Kawaii, J-Culture, Hyper Live Festival stage and Hyper Fringe Market areas. There were no where near as many stalls as last time and it wasn’t clearly sectioned so I know that I missed the Hyper Live section and the end of the Hyper Kawaii section despite the area being so small. The majority of the usual stalls were there such as Tofu Cute, Dreamy Bows and Love Jojo, but their stalls were rather small considering their popularity.
I had some set goals for what I wanted to purchase that day:
- A new Alpaca plush
- A PS1 game
- A Manga/Japanese-related book
- An Anime figure
- Large hair bows
- Some gifts
Love Jojo (last photo) looking as lovely as always! I think my main goal of the day was to buy a new Alpaca friend to join my herd; as mentioned in past posts, it has become a tradition for me to purchase a new one when I go to one of these conventions. I missed out at MCM as I didn’t fall in love with any of them and I don’t attend every single convention going, so I really wanted to get one at this event but unfortunately neither Tofu Cute (Ichigo) nor Love Jojo (Miruku) had an Alpaca that jumped out at me. T_T
Not having it clearly sectioned made it a pain in the butt for us to find stalls we wanted to go back to, since last time the areas were clearly separated it was easy for us to stick around the areas that we actually enjoyed as quite often we could come across stalls we had missed. Before we knew it, we were in the Fringe Market section looking at all the hand-made goodies; J particularly liked this section because there were some pre-used stalls that sold cheap items and there were a lot of vintage/Steampunk-inspired items.
We had a quick rest and corrected our melting make-up as it was very hot and humid inside the O2 due to its tent-like structure which was being heated up by the scorching sun outside. We took the time to take some OOTD photos since we hadn’t yet! I’m wearing my AITBG t-shirt with a blue chiffon skirt, cherry earrings, vampire lips ring and red sneaker wedges that resulted in a ‘fast-food/main course’ theme (and I also felt a little like Sailor Moon thanks to the blue skirt and red shoes), and J was wearing a pastel food print top from H&M, pink chiffon skirt, cupcake/sweet accessories, hair bows, my Dreamy Bows bracelet and glitter vans for a ‘sweet/dessert’ theme!!
We continued to wander around the Fringe Market stalls as I was looking for my friend’s stall ‘Sugar Coated Sprinkles’ and just around the corner from her stall I met Kam from ‘Kam Creates’ who I purchased some more jewellery from and she remembered me from the HJ Xmas Market when I commented about her having a working light above her stall this time; we ended up chatting for at least 15 minutes!! She’s such a nice person! I really should’ve asked for a photo of her but J had disappeared around the corner to see my friend’s stall so I forgot!
Yay! Finally found SCS’s stall; I bought her some goodies since I knew she would be sat on her stall for most of the day and wouldn’t get much chance to experience the event, and she was very grateful! She was dressed her usual super kawaii, fairy/pastel-kei self, so we took some photos and had a good chat about the event itself and other things since we hadn’t seen each other since last year! I purchased a couple of goodies from her stall including a sparkly unicorn necklace for J as a birthday gift since all she had gone on about all day was how she wanted something with a unicorn on!
We wandered over to the Food Market section and I had taken my shoes off at this point because my feet were killing me. J was complaining about hunger and we came across an Onigiri stall just in time! She purchased one to try and said they were incredibly good but unfortunately they were stuffed with tuna which I don’t like, otherwise I would’ve tried one myself! I took some photos of the masters at work and the guy thought it was funny and posed for me!
We sat down for a bit and I munched on what little snacks that I had with me as my energy was also waning; we were sat right next to the Bubble Tea and Shaved Ice stalls, both which I really wanted to try but suddenly we were being shepherded out as they were closing for their 1 hour break which they always do during the Saturday event. Last time we were guided upstairs to wait but this time we were sent one-way out of the O2 back exit to walk what felt like a never-ending walk in the scorching sun to the front of the venue.
Since J was still incredibly hungry, we went to the Slug and Lettuce for food; I was too dehydrated and exhausted from the heat to eat (and again not wanting to make myself ill by eating a lot and then walking a lot after like last time), so I just got myself a coke whilst J had risotto. The service was pretty crap for an up-scaled Weatherspoons, it took us like 15-20 minutes to get our drinks and the waitress served other tables with drink AND food which were orders she took AFTER US!!
I didn’t realise that the event was running until 9pm, for some reason I thought it was only running until 5pm and had planned to get a train shortly after 5pm home, but upon realising this we decided to stay a little later. I did want to check out the Nintendo and Anime Game Park section but J said that we would split and she would go to the Maid Café in Building Six; it seemed pointless us splitting up when I also wanted to visit the Maid Café and I had like 5% battery on my phone, so we decided to head on over to where the main stage was.
When we entered Building Six, we were in a very dark room with a big stage and a massive crowd of people who were anticipating the next act called ‘X-Japan’; there were television screens on the walls showing clips of footage taken from their concerts around the world, with everyone looking excited and screaming at the band playing and crowd surfing whilst dramatic holy/rock/Final Fantasy-sounding music was playing in the background loudly. It was all mega-hyped up tbh; one of the ‘band’ members (apparently there are 5 members but I only saw 2 of them ¬_¬) came out and sat at his piano, the whole room went quiet and then he played a very soft, angelic melody. DX We thought it was the biggest anti-climax because at least a band playing FF-style music would’ve been much more exciting and worth the hype that the crowd was giving them!! I’m sorry X-Japan fans, but all of the songs they performed sounded the same!
We made our way to the top floor which was also crowded by people leaning over the balcony to watch the show (apparently it was meant to be closed for the Maid Café only but someone must’ve messed up and left it open and it had gotten really crowded). We did sit down in the seating area but one of the maids told us we could not sit there and that they would be opening in 15 minutes; we went to queue but the security guard told us that we couldn’t queue as it was too crowded and blocking a fire exit!! D:< Do you see what I mean about it being super unorganised!?? So we ‘enjoyed the show’ whilst waiting right next to the queue point until it was open, and 2 other girls were doing the exact same thing; we ended up chatting with them for a bit and when we were eventually allowed to queue, we asked if they wanted to join us which they happily accepted!
The pop-up Maid Café was being run by ‘Ai My Maid’ and in all fairness they didn’t get the best venue for their event. Being above a live concert, it was more difficult for them to converse with the customers as the music and excitement from the crowd was very loud, not to mention their section was now crowded from those trying to watch the show; it was also harder for them to ‘perform’ for the customers with acts such as singing because they were drowned out by the noise.
Despite all this, they were very popular throughout the day and they had run out of the best food (including green tea ice cream T_T) so in the end we just paid to play games with the maids. We played Hungry Hippos with one of the maids first and J won the game; when the maid left, one of the girls was very upset to find that the maid had sat on her macaroons!! She was so excited for them and they were completely crushed into pulp >_<; J said she should mention it to the maid but in all fairness, the seat should’ve been cleared properly for her to sit on so can’t really shout at her for that one…
A trainee maid then approached us and asked if anyone would like to play Jenga with them, I paid 50p (I guess this is their way of earning money or tips) for me and a girl from another party sharing our table to play. I was the third person to get a go which sucked because it meant that I always got the hardest turns! So unfair! So when it neared the end of the game, the last possible turn was taken which meant that the only thing I could do was to knock it over! My pride took a serious hit lol; another maid asked if anyone wanted to play a game with her but I told her that I couldn’t take anymore losing for that day haha.
Since I wanted as much of the maid experience as I could get (since I won’t get to experience real Japanese Maid Cafés anytime soon T_T), I asked to take a cheki photo with the maid that I played Jenga with. It cost me £2.00 and then she decorated it for me!
Whilst I was waiting for the maid to decorate my cheki, a female singer had taken the stage and rather unfortunately, sang ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen much to my disgust and J’s delight…
Once that was finished, we headed to the Nintendo and Anime Game Park area; J wasn’t too pleased to be in this area as I don’t think it interested her much but I wanted to get as much out of the day as possible. Pikachu was out taking photos but they rushed him away fairly quick despite people still being in a queue which was a shame as I know J would’ve liked to have had a photo with Pikachu; I also lost her for about 15 minutes whilst in there despite the area being incredibly small, but it was lucky that I went in there because there were quite a few stalls that I had wanted to buy from. When I eventually found her, we decided to head on home as we would have at least 2 and half hours of travelling to do.
Neither of us spoke much on the way back as we were both pretty exhausted and perhaps a little grumpy from being so tired; I was glad to be off of my feet after walking around in high wedge sneakers all day and it took what little energy I had left to not drop off on the train. I didn’t have any form of entertainment with me and my phone had long died so the journey home was long and boring!
Even though I enjoyed the day and experience overall, I was extremely glad to be home. I went to bed at 11pm after saying goodbye to J and showing my dad what I had bought; I slept right through until about 10:00am the next morning, attempted to blog this but failed because the internet was crappy and then had a nice hot bath to soothe my achy muscles and sore feet.
Overall the experience was rather disappointing compared to last year’s. I re-read the blog posts from last year and it looked far more exciting and lively, and the set-up was well put together. Here are the pros and cons of 2015’s Hyper Japan:
- The event itself – Instantly a pro because I love Hyper Japan.
- Less queues – The queuing for food stalls and such was much smaller than last year.
- Maid café – Had the chance to experience a UK maid café inspired by the Japanese maid cafés.
- The areas were split up – Made lots of walking.
- Lack of seating areas – No where to sit and concrete pavement floor was dirty and uncomfortable.
- Reduced event ‘feel’ – The split of the areas reduced the overall ‘feel’ of the event, less excitement.
- Reduced customer variety – The split of areas reduced the variety in those attending as those cosplaying or dressed up were in one area for most of the day.
- Restrictions in the food court – Apparently food from the food court could not be brought over to other sections of the event.
- Queues to enter different sections – The split of areas meant that people had to queue up to enter different sections rather than having free access.
- Poor organisation – The event was poorly structured and labelled for guidance of where certain shows were taking place, had to rely on programme heavily.
- Rude staff – The staff were pretty rude overall, very pushy and sharp.
So yeah, definitely wasn’t the greatest event which is a shame considering it is the main event of the year compared to the HJ Christmas Market; I wasn’t planning to go to the Xmas Market but since this one wasn’t as good as I had hoped, I might just have to in order to get my HJ fix! I spoke to some of the stall holders and a lot were saying that people had been saying it wasn’t as good as last year’s and Kam said out of all the HJ events she has attended, last year’s was definitely her favourite.
However I did see a lot of tweets from people saying it was the best they had been to, and even PastelHorror (owner of Sugar Coated Sprinkles) said that it was the best for her; I guess it was down to the fact that they spent far more time there than we did, with more friends and got to do a lot more. I think had I not felt rushed for time or was babysitting a newbie, then I may have felt more relaxed to enjoy the event; I also think that other things like the heat, poor organisation, rude staff and the fact I was exhausted from lack of sleep and sore feet contributed to my overall mood being more negative compared to last year when I had prepared everything beforehand and didn’t feel rushed.
Anyway thank you for reading my post, and I hope that if you went you at least had fun! Sorry it is on a bit of a downer, I hope the next convention I attend will be much better organised and laid out. I didn’t take that many photos this time and I’m sure I would’ve taken more had I actually come across more people dressed up as there’s only so much you can take at these events before it starts to get repetitive haha; I didn’t get to see many cosplayers as they were all in the Nintendo/Anime Game Park area that we didn’t go to until the end of the day! I hope that Pixie will be available to attend with me as I would very much like to do a simple cosplay with her! When I get a free weekend day I will be preparing another HJ haul post even though I didn’t buy that much this time, I still find them fun to do! Also hoping to have more Japan-related posts for you guys soon so stay tuned! Until next time~♥