Hyper Japan 2012, Over-hyped!

Oh dear, here we go again!

I arrived at the venture bright and early and within 10 minutes, I wished I had listened to my inner self and stayed at home. The queue was long, the stewards few and far between. I glanced at my watch at 9.40am. The doors, which were supposed to have opened at 9.30am appeared firmly shut.  We were required to enter one door, only to double back on ourselves via a system of underground tunnels and stairs.  I do so love walking long distances, down dark, underground corridors, when there is a direct route from door to show entrance.

After an age, the doors finally opened and the patient and good natured queue entered, to be greeted by a table of show guides. A nice touch would have been to have a couple of people to hand them out and help patrons with any enquiries.

I wasn’t impressed either that it was gone 10am and some stalls were still being set up.  Some stall holders had yet to turn up!

I did a quick tour of the grounds – which was very quick as the show was surprisingly and rather disappointingly small and lacked content. Sure if you are a saké lover, or you enjoy your gaming, then Hyper Japan is the place to be this weekend.  If you are not – then good luck.

There were a few food stalls, mostly selling various forms of sushi and tempura, but I would have liked to have seen more variety, especially in terms of bakery goods.  There is more to Japan than saké.

Some of the pricing is in Euros and not Pounds Sterling. Bargains were definitely hard to come by. However I thought these handmade fabric cups and saucers were cute and I was almost tempted to buy 1.

The fashion stalls were also disappointing, the main one had some lovely clothes, if you are below a certain height, and had a wallet stuffed full of notes.

But for me the worse thing was, bearing in mind the first anniversary of the worse natural disaster to hit Japan in decades is coming up, there was hardly any mention of it.  It was only by chance I stumbled across the Sakura Front stall (http://sakurafront.org.uk) who are trying to raise funds to plant trees in the affeact regions. Sakura or Cherry Blossom is the national flower of Japan, and being a Spring flower, I would have thought the show could have made a concerted effort, for what they billed as the Spring show.

Also upsetting were that some of the items on sale were made in China! Hardly the ideal way to promote Japanese culture.

After about an hour and a half, I had had my fill of Hyper Japan and headed out to enjoy the late Winter sunshine.

The highlights – it was great to see the various crafters and artisans at the show.  There were glimpses of traditional Japanese art, culture and literature.  The show case by Third Window Films with Satoshi Miki and Eri Fuse was particularly good.

Tips: Take a flask of tea, and go to the loo before you enter the venue. The queues for both were ridiculously long.  Also make sure you take plenty of cash before you enter, as the one (yes one!) ATM is chargeable and again the queue was ridiculous.

Ideal for gamers, anime enthusiasts and street fashionistas and those who wish to find the most basic information about Japan and Japanese culture.

Not ideal for High-end Fashionistas, foodies, seasoned culture vultures.

Overall verdict: Could and should have been so much better.

Rating 1.5 out of 5

Hyper Japan 2012 is on at Earls Court, London until tomorrow.  Website www.hyperjapan.co.uk

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