Hello! Yes I am cheating! This feature is meant to be about characters that actually exist but it’s hot and I’m tired and confused and I can’t seem to pick one! And so…here’s a picture I drew earlier. It’s me, dreaming of things I’d rather be doing than sitting at a  desk, feeling hot. It’s still cute so…it counts, right??!

Summer Dreams

Cosplay Times

August 20, 2010

On August 31st and July 1st I went to the World Cosplay Summit 2010 in Nagoya. I guess I’d always been a little dismissive of cosplaying but since coming to Japan I’ve decided it’s actually quite cool (well, most of the time anyway…there are some aspects of it I’m less than fond of…). I was pretty excited when I found out about this event, and so nearby too!

Day One:

Headed to Nagoya with Danny and Matthew, had lunch at Boyd’s Cafe in Osu. Their scones are nice as are their lattes. Not really any vegetarian options though so I just had scones and coffee.Mm, nutritious!

The day’s events began with a red carpet mini parade featuring this year’s contestants. I wasn’t there because a) I wasn’t invited *sob!* and b) I needed a lie-in (minor hangover *sob!*). Next up was the cosplay parade, held in Osu Kannon. Goodness me, it was quite fun! I decided to dress up cause I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t.  It can be practise for the day when I finally go full on Gothic Lolita and wander around Nagoya. So anyway,  I dressed up as Mio Akiyama from K-ON! It’s a manga/anime series about a group of high school girls who form a band. Mio is the bassist and my outfit was one of her stage outfits. It was pretty much a maid outfit but as we have established, maids=cute! I’ll come right out and say it: I bought my outfit at Cospa. Real cosplayers make their own outfits but I am really terrible at sewing and I don’t have a sewing machine either. Maybe next year…

So on the way there Danny and Matthew  were joking that I’d have to watch out for photographers. “Haha”, I thought. They were right though! Standing still for a few moments seemed to make me radiate a ‘Take my photo now!’ vibe and I soon had people coming up and asking me if they could take a picture. Wow-like paparazzi! I felt too shy to feel famous. Lots of people were using their phones but some guys (only guys!) had those cameras that take zillions of pictures at once, eep! I didn’t really have any poses ready so I just did maid type poses (Whatever that means?! In my head I was thinking “Yeah, these are maid-ish”, but what do I know?!). Some girls went into little paroxysms and kept screaming “Kawaii!! Kawaii!!” at me which was pretty funny really! The parade was cool if a little weird at times because when it slowed up the cosplayers were just kind of stuck there, staring at the crowds! Some were posing and some just seemed a little confused! At the end of the day I got changed before heading back in case we bumped into anyone!

Day Two
Me and Danny arrived at Oasis 21 around 15.30. By 16.00 (3 hours til showtime) my feet were killing me (heels) and we had to go to Starbucks to sit down. It was funny to see all the cosplayers sitting around drinking frappuccinos. Baskin and Robbins seemed to be the most popular place though-the line was massive and made up entirely of cosplayers! Had my photo taken some more and ran into three other Mios! One matched me and the others were wearing two of her other outfits.

Before the show started we met up with some other friends and while Danny filmed I headed off to the observation deck above the art gallery across the road to see how the view of the stage was from there. Unfortunately to get to the observation deck we had to pass a fancy restaurant. The entrance was full of people in very posh outfits, it looked like a wedding reception or something. We were respectively wearing: shorts and a T-shirt, a yukata and a maid outfit. I couldn’t look up! I could just imagine everyone thinking “Oh foreigners! They’re so ker-ayzee!” On the way back out I noticed one of the guests holding a half empty bottle of JD. That made me feel a bit better for some reason.
The observation deck was way too hot so we soon headed back. By now it was getting dark and the sky was a dusky dark pink. Oasis 21 looks fantastic at night. It’s made to look like a spaceship and it DOES. What with all the cosplayers walking around and the lit walkways and billboards it really felt like some futuristic space town. Bladerunner crossed with a fuzzy rainbow. Caught about two thirds of the show from a staircase. The place was really packed and there was almost nowhere to go. People were crammed onto the ground floor around the stage and against the railings of every floor surrounding it.

I missed the last few contestants because I just couldn’t stand on tip toes anymore! I watched through Danny’s video screen then took a break to get mango and yuzu frappuccinos. This time I wore everything but my headband home-too tired to find somewhere to change. So to summarise: cosplay is really awfully fun and I’d do it again. Some people are just so talented at making costumes, it’s crazy/brilliant!

Joanna in Yokohama

June 18, 2010

Here is a video Danny made of me walking around Yokohama Chinatown! He filmed and edited everything to make it fit with the music. Pretty cool!

The song is ‘The Weight of My Words’ by Kings of Convenience remixed by Four Tet.

Pinball, 1973

March 11, 2010

So I just finished reading Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami. I’ d been waiting to read it for years. It didn’t used to be available. It was part of the same Kodansha English Library series as Hear The Wind Sing (ie. intended for Japanese speakers learning English) and although Hear The Wind Sing was made available again (in Japan) a little while ago I never saw Pinball, 1973 onthe shelf next to it. Until me and Danny popped into Tower Records in Shibuya last month and suddenly it was there! We both noticed it seperately so it ended up being a birthday present. (I guess if you really hate spoilers then don’t read the quotes in this post but..honestly…it wouldn’t matter, this isn’t really a plot driven book and the quotes don’t really give much of anything away).

Even when Murakami is writing about nothing it affects me. Tiny things are heartbreaking. And it’s not because he describes them in exhaustive detail or anything. It’s as if he chooses exactly the right things to mention and exactly the right order to mention them in for maximum impact. Maximum because the things he writes about aren’t necessarily sad. Somehow the things he writes about make me feel sad for his characters and sad for myself and for what I’ve lost over the years. Not huge things but tiny things, moments, brief thoughts, that kind of thing. Series of things his characters do, like coming home, having a coffee, washing the cup, pouring out a glass of beer, lighting a cigarette and putting a record on seem sort of important somehow. It’s all nothing but I’ll sit there and read it almost in tears.

‘A friend of mine and I leased a condominium on the slope from Shibuya to Nampeidai and opened a small translation service. My friend’s father put up the funds, which is not to say that it took any astounding sum of money-just the deposit on the place, and the money for three steel desks, some ten dictionaries, a telephone, and a half-dozen bottles of bourbon. We thought up a suitable name, and with the rest of the money had it engraved on a metal sign and hung it out front, then put an ad in the newspaper. After that we waited for customers. The two of us, with our four feet propped up on the desks, drinking whiskey. It was the spring of ’72’ (Murakami, Haruki Pinball, 1973 p.31)

Sometimes upsetting things are mentioned in passing and never mentioned again:

‘On the train ride back, I told myself over and over again, it’s all over with now, you got it out of your system, forget it. You got what you came for, didn’t you? Yet I couldn’t get it out of mind, that place. Nor the fact that I loved Naoko. Nor that she was dead. After all that, I still hadn’t closed the book on anything.’ (p.23)

And the idleness! His characters frequently do nothing. They just drink coffee and sit and stare and fall asleep. They listen to classical or jazz records and tapes that have no meaning to me but hearing the names of the composers and their albums (Handel, Bix Beiderbecke, Woody Herman) still feels comforting. I can’t write about smoking and listening to classical music. Not convincingly anyway. The only classical albums I might possibly own would be ones I found in the backroom at Oxfam (I used to volunteer in one of their book/record shops) and only bought because they had silly names and covers or pretty covers. Attachment to album covers, there’s another thing I don’t quite understand. I often buy albums just because I like the covers. In fact, I think I’ll take some pictures of ones I’ve bought in Japan and post them here!

Since I don’t know how to finish here’s one last quote:

‘Occasionally, though, tiny ripples of emotion would be set off, as if to remind him. At times like that, the Rat simply closed his eyes, sealed off his mind, and sat tight until the ripples subsided. By then it would already be getting a little dark, toward early evening. The ripples gone, that same hushed tranquility would come over him again, as if nothing had happened.’ (p. 45)

Aaaand finally, a few pictures from our last night in Sapporo. The clock tower…was weird, it felt familiar, like it reminded me of something but I couldn’t say what. There were also quite a few sculptures we’d missed, including the moomins ( I love them) so that was nice!