Wednesday, 7 September 2016

In the ESPspotlight: HYPER JAPAN FESTIVAL 2016, 15 JULY

For my first event review in EricaSharlette's Purview; I'm going to take you back to mid-July, when Kawaii, Harajuku styles, and the like made their bi-annual pilgrimage to London - this time in upper class Kensington (Olympia).

Eva and I en route to Olympia...

As though I were attending my first event, I was looking at this one through fresh eyes. Now wheelchair-bound, with a Carer at my side for any help that I may need, I was looking at things through the eyes of someone who expected not to be able to engage in all of the activities present, because of reasons beyond my control. I was glad to see that for the most part, I was not disappointed

A video posted by Erica Sharlette (@esinthep) on

Making our way toward the first stand in our path, my lovely Carer, Eva, and I made our way toward the first stand that we came across - the beautiful works of pottery label, Doki Japanese Tableware. Unable to fit my wheelchair into the aisles set up; I just took in what was available on the outskirts, which was plenty of mugs, bowls and other table dishes, all beautifully designed, and appealing to the eye. Realising that we had somehow managed to miss the first two stands, we rewound and started again at the beginning, finding ourselves at the eyecatching, (some) so good eats of Asian styled ON Cafe, serving the French patisserie side of their menu. Unable to resist a few present boxes, I stocked up at the start. Full of colourful delights, and temptations, along with the friendly staff; they were impossible to walk past and ignore.
Pastries from ON Cafe
Time for the Hyper Live! Main Stage to open, we had to abandon our tour of the stands, to be continued later, if we were going to find a good place to sit before the crowds really started to build up. Running into my second difficulty of the day; the seating had been placed quite narrowly together, so I was loathe to attempt going down either of the two aisles, as I was afraid of getting stuck between them. I was left with no choice but to attempt sitting at the back of the crowd space, in one of the two designated filming areas (the other being at the front in a space far too tiny for my wheelchair to navigate). As I anticipated however; once the seats began to fill up and the standing room swiftly followed, my view was completely obscured, and as such, left me with no alternative but to brave the narrow aisle, and try to get to the front of the aisle, blocking in those on the end of both rows from getting out until the end of the segment, should they so wish.

Very firmly ensconced at the front of the right aisle; Airly Momaco opened the show with her singular brand of J-Pop and nursery rhymes. Though wearing a beautiful gown of lace, satin, and chiffon, below a bodice embroidered with silver; unfortunately Momaco failed to inspire more than 4 people in the audience. The performer's attempts at crowd interaction bordered on painful, though not as much as the music video accompanying her love song devoted to her face-licking dog...
Airly Momaco
Ecstatic for the ending of the segment, I found navigating my way out of the aisles to be a 2-woman feat; that required my being guided by Eva to back out of the space safely, without anyone being hurt. After a quick (st)roll and a stretch, we returned for what we hoped and prayed would be a better offering from J-Rock band Broken Doll. Thankfully, the Big Man was listening, because the set was absolutely excellent, and not only woke everybody up, but brought a crowd in previously missing from the acquired taste of Momaco's set. With their singular fashion sense and hyperactive, infectious energy, you didn't need to understand the lyrics to get caught up in the spell of lead singer Sachi's vocals.

Here's your winner Stone Ground Team!
Deciding on a sightseeing trip before the next performance, the lovely Eva and I visited a number of stands, including sweets and bookstand Snacks Japonais, the delicious Beschle Chocolatier, and the fiercely entertaining staff at Stone Ground Smaurai Matcha Japanese Tea House (no that's not a typo); where the male and female colleague competed over which one could get the better picture out of me!

Keen to take in the matches before the next act took the Hyper Live! Stage, we quickly made our way over to the wrestling ring, where a makeshift tournament was already underway. Enjoyable to begin with, the first round featured almost believable contenders that amped up the crowd well; but it wasn't long before things descended into madness, inducing hecklers from the crowd. By the third round, the act had become ridiculous, with one of the contenders continually jumping out of the ring and running away, until his challenger was forced to jump out after him and throw him back in. It was quite a painful scene to watch, though in an entirely different way to the first round, which paid true homage to the artform of the game.
Wrestling Prime    
Hearing the call of the Live! Stage, Eva and I returned to where our time was better spent; where our collective first experience with J-Rap was about to commence. The female duo that were were actually hugely entertaining, despite the language barrier. Energetic, high octane, and living up to their charismatic name; the performance is the highlight of the day so far. The dancing twosome rocked a DJ and hype MC line up, complete with decks and mixer board. It was easy to picture them cleaning up on the club circuit, with their ability to stir a crowd the way that they did during their performance. If forced, my only complaint would be the ignorance of my side of the audience, by the MC, as opposed to either side, to whom she delivered to the max. in full effect...I never did find out what that ladder was for though?

On a high after negotiating the tight aisle for the last time, it was back to sightseeing on the ground floor; taking in the familiar ITK stand, this was the first opportunity during which I got to take in the robotics brand I had seen on previous visits up close. Unfortunately, the one-(small) size fits all glove did not fare well on my plus-sized hand, in fact getting stuck. It took Eva almost giving the staff a heart attack in her over-bendy attempts at removal, to get me free of the hardware. Definitely not an experience to be repeated.

A photo posted by Erica Sharlette (@esinthep) on

Next, to Eat Japan's Sake Experience 2016, and the wealth of options available was truly astounding. Unfortunately, there was no one available who spoke English well enough, to talk me through all the types available, and with my pain starting to set in on my first trip outdoors in two and a half years, we decided to move on. Taking in the novelty stall belonging to JP Books. The cuddly toys were cute, and the graphic novels artistic, but beyond that, there wasn't much to keep us there, and so we moved on to the fashion booth next door. Selling kimonos, satin and brocade jackets, it was a welcome note for us to end my first trip out on.

Having thoroughly enjoyed myself, it was time to call it a day, and head home, after a thoroughly successful outing to kick off my return. I felt the pain and tiredness caused by my exertions were thoroughly worth it. I had managed to complete my first outing since May 2014. Although I was not able to cover the entire ground floor as intended, I was, and still am, proud of my efforts, not being aware how much of the event I would be able to take in at all.

A video posted by Erica Sharlette (@esinthep) on

Were you at Hyper Japan Festival 2016? Did you see me? What were your thoughts on the event? Does your take match mine, at all? Share your thoughts in your own personal forum below, and let's get a discussion going!

Until the next...

Don't forget that you can view my Hyper Japan Festival photo album on the Brand Spanking NEW Facebook Page!