J-Fest at Nikkei Centre: A Cosplay + Fandom Celebration

J-FEST was at Nikkei Centre was on March 7!

It was a celebration of all things J-pop hosted by the Vancouver Anime Convention Society. J-Fest was a culmination of fandom for the love of favourite animes, mangas, games, and the like. I got to watch performers taiko drum, speak with local artists in the Artist Alley/Dealer Room, and of course, see a great number of local cosplayers. Simply put, it was a unique and fun filled experience!

In the spirit of the event, let’s talk about COSPLAY!


Cosplay is a performance art; it is about celebrating a love for a favourite anime/manga/game character or Japanese fashion aesthetic by emulating how they look and even behave. The word itself originates from combining the terms “costume” x “play”. The word was coined by Nobuyaki Takahashi of Studio Hard while attending a World Science Fiction Convention held in Los Angeles in 1984. Those who do cosplay are called cosplayers – people who dress up in a costume or fashion style that represents a specific character from a game, comic book, cartoon, manga, anime or Japanese fashion aesthetic (such as Lolita, maid, or school girl). The concept of cosplaying has actually been growing as a hobby since 1990, becoming a unique and grown pop culture phenomenon in Japan and other countries, like in Vancouver! Cosplay is often associated with “Otaku” culture – a word that describes a person with obsessive interests, commonly with anime and manga fandom. The Akihabara neighborhood of Tokyo is a popular gathering otaku site. And if you thought cosplay only had to do with clothes and accessories, you are mistaken! Since 1998, there has been a number of cosplay restaurants popularized in Japan, catering to devoted anime and cosplay fans. Waitresses and/or waiters at such cafes dress up as video game or anime characters, or maids/butlers, in Tokyo’s Akihabara district in Japan. You can actually experience something akin to the real deal at anime conventions in Vancouver! J-Fest in fact had their own version of a "Bishounen Cafe"! These café’s are more than just about food, they are about the entire environment from décor, to the behaviour of the servers and how they interact with customers. At a maid cafe, for example, don't be surprised when the maid servers take your food order and call you "master"!

POP! Japan


Nowhere in the world is pop culture more prevalent, eclectic & unique than in Japan


Entertainment. Anime. Manga. Cosplay. Fashion.. and much more!

From the fashion trends of Harajuku and Shibuya, to the kawaii (cute) culture of “deco den”, to the exciting stories of manga and anime, we can’t seem to get enough of Japanese aesthetics and trends here in North America, and we can't wait to share lots of exciting articles about them with you in POP! Japan!! 現代のニッポンのポップカルチャーといえば、アニメ、マンガ、コスプレ、ファッション、KAWAII・・・など、色々な物が融合されたユニークさがあり、なかなか他の国では、お目にかかれない奇抜なものもある。 そんな数限りない日本の美学やトレンドをいろいろな面からポップカルチャーとして日系ライフの中で徐々に紹介をしていこうと思っている。

Let's start off with an introduction shall we?

Japanese pop culture has captured global attention and has made its way into the cultural consciousness of countries throughout the world. Whether we've been fully aware of it or not, Japan’s cultural exports have slowly woven their way into our own cultural landscape here in North America. Kid's and adults alike go nuts over things like Hello Kitty, Tamagotchi, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and Pokemon (to but a few!) -- and that's just the start. It is not hard to find people that recognize the famous Japanese director/animator Hayao Miyazaki or his many Studio Ghibli films such as Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. Thanks to companies like Sanrio, Panasonic, Nintendo, and Sony, characters and stories from anime (a distinctive Japanese-style of animation) and manga (Japanese-style comics) have become widely popularized, bringing them to life in everything from toys, games, books, and movies to fashion and even household appliances -- who doesn't want a Hello Kitty toaster?

My Neighbor Totoro



Sailor Moon


Many fans show their love for their favourite anime, manga, or game characters by cosplaying

("cosplay" is short for “costume play”) – that is to say, they emulate these characters by dressing up as them, and even sometimes act like them too! It is also popular to see people cosplay in styles that are unique only to Japanese fashion trends -- such as dressing up in the "Lolita" style. It's worthy to note that there are a huge amount of fashion trends in Japan (that will be covered in a future post!), which often have their own sub-styles. For instance, the "Lolita" style is inspired by the Victorian era, which usually means loads of lace and frill, skirts with petticoats and parasols. However, there are "Gothic Lolitas", which usually involves a lot of black (think punk-rock) or "Sweet Lolitas", which is a more girly/innocent type of look that usually involves pinks and other pastel colours. Whatever cosplayers decide to wear, it is clear that is becoming more and more popular, evident by the thousands that attend and cosplay at anime conventions like Anime Revolution (Vancouver) and the LA Anime Expo. Here are some incredible cosplay examples of Sailor Moon, Link & Zelda:

Lolita Fashion

Let's not forget -- Kawaii (cute) culture is pretty much everywhere in Japan too!

We see this in crafting phenomenons like Decoden (short for "Decoration Denwa" -- "Denwa" meaning "Mobile Phone"), which involves decorating phone cases (and pretty much anything else nowadays!) in fits of glitter, pearls, jewels, and cute charms, and Amigurumi, the knitting or crocheting of small stuffed animals or other cute creatures.   Even anime and manga characters come in cuter chibi-style versions! From this... To this!

That's all for now! More POP! Japan posts coming soon!

We want to hear from you! -- What are some of your favourite aspects of Japanese Pop Culture you would like us to feature? Facebook or Email us!
あなたが気に入っている日本のポップカルチャーで、特集を組んでもらいたい事など、どしどしとご意見をFacebookまたは、Emailにご連絡ください。 お待ちいたしております!