Japan and Geeks have a very close relationship. I mean, after all, this country is the birthplace of Nintendo, Anime, Sony, and crazy things like this
I, for one, have always been enchanted by Japanese culture. From an early age I have been watching Anime, reading Manga (essentially anime in comic book form) and the Japanese culture in general, be it shrines, or technology.
So when the winds told me of a Japanese Festival in Phoenix, of course I planned on going! this blog post will take a slightly different turn of events from the norm, I’ll be talking about my findings at Arizona Matsuri.
The first thing I noticed at this festival was the abundance of cosplayers (myself included). Cosplaying originated in Japan as an art of costume making. People, especially at anime conventions would make costumes and dress up as their favorite characters from anime. This, for example is me cosplaying Maes Hughes from the anime Fullmetal Alchemist.
Cosplayers take characters from their favorite video games, manga, anime and basically any other form of media imaginable and make/purchase costumes to wear at cons, or basically any other event that it would be (relatively) socially acceptable.
At this event, for example, cosplayers from around phoenix gathered together to enter the Cosplay competitions around Matsuri.
Also ever present at the Japanese festival to a geek like me was the abundance of booths selling random anime related crap. When you go to an anime con, there is always something called a “dealers hall.” the entire point of the dealers hall is to sell unsuspecting geeks like me useless anime related crap like figurines, anime dvds and manga. For example, I took 40 dollars ot for the festival to buy food and I ended up spending 5 bucks on some udon noodles and blowing the rest on a figurine, 2 issues of the Fullmetal Alchemist manga, a FMA Pocket Watch and a phone charm. A wise man (my best friend MAtt Lew) once told me that to be an anime geek was to live a life of poverty and hunger, as it always came down to buying anime over food. I definately know where he was coming from .
My favorite apart of the festival, though (aside from my own cosplaying adventures) was the band that played: Kitsune Robot. Kitsune Robot is a band based out of phoenix that specializes in playing anime opening and closing covers. And they are damn good (FYI, their facebook fanpage is hyaah http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kitsune-Robot/315247194160)
This Is some video of them doing one of my personal favorite anime, Fullmetal Alchemist from Matsuri last year.
And this was them this year, in top form, I might add! They played themes from Anime such as 00 Gundam, Darker than Black, Naruto, and the Pokemon Theme song!
Now, aside from the geekly things to be seen, there is a lot to be said for the actual cultural aspect of the festival. Japan is a country that is rich in it’s cultrual history, from it’s arts, to its martial arts, to badass samurai.
This was from a demonstration of the martial arts that samurai used in actual combat. This demonstration, as can be seen, involved the actual use of authentic Samurai armor. Only one word can describe it. Sugoi. I mean come on, it was samurai attacking each other with katanas and other samurai-ly weapons. There was a lot of things elsewhere to see too, for example the Japanese art of Bonsai. Bonsai is amazing when you think about it, just look at this tree.
This tree is 150 years old. Yeah. bonsai is done by taking a regular growing, full-size tree and cutting the supporting root off on a regular basis so it cannot grow up, but it can grow to be a miniature version of a full size tree. Only Japan could come up with something that awesome. Also present was the musical aspect of Japan. In one corner of the festival was the Taiko drummers. If you found yourself in Taylor Place dorms and you heard an incessant banging, that was the Taiko. It’s a very simple-to-learn but complex-to-master form of music.
It consits of teams of 4-100 people using a vast variety of drums, to make a vast variety of sounds in unison, its a very unique kind of music, and incredibly interesting to watch on many levels.
Overall, the festival was a pleasure to attend. I went last year too, and it was just as amazing. More than likely, the festival will remain into next year, so I would highly recommend anyone who finds themselves in the phoenix area to come and check it out. At the very least, you can come admire the cosplayers.
Brian Laurence Bishop
PS. Here some fun videos that are Japan Related that I have come across.
Yeah, they have anime characters doing live concerts now. What do we have? Ke$ha?
Also, this, a favorite dance to do of cosplayers everywhere. Caramelldansen.