As I had feared I had to miss the first two days of the Japan Cultural Expo this year. However, I did manage to make it on Sunday and got to spend the full day taking it all in. I had fun but when I compared it to my experience last year in 2019, I was somewhat disappointed.
For the purpose of this post, I am not going to directly compare last year to this year as that can quite quickly snowball into a rather negative write up. Thus to get it out of the way, it was smaller had no bonsai and the Fuji Film section felt separate from the expo.
Now onto the main experience of the expo in the mall.
Upon arrival, I needed to walk quite a bit to try and find the expo. This is mainly because I do not know the mall that the expo was held in and I am directionally challenged.
There were plenty of signs for the expo, just very few of them mentioned exactly where in the mall it was. I was thankful that I remembered it was near Woolworths last year and thus searched for the store and stumbled upon the start of the Japan Cultural Expo.
The ‘exhibits’ that had been put together ran down the centre of the main walkways within the mall itself. However, the expo was broken up by random stalls in between the exhibits, which left the overall experience lacking. As it is, you want to see the displays but need to make space and considerations for people who are just at the mall to shop. Now on top of that, you have your browsing disrupted further by kiosks clearly not part of the expo.
My theory is that the mall had already allocated that space before the Japanese Embassy managed to book and thus they had to make a plan and settled for taking up the remaining areas.
The kimonos were stunning. The detail, stitchwork, colouring and the resulting emotion were honestly breathtaking. I wish I could have brought the hydrangea one home.
The samurai armour was really intriguing to see. The level of detail that went into them, from the decoration to each and every chain link makes me marvel at the effort and level of skill that they would have needed to originally have been made.
I really enjoyed the creativity with the different styles of Ikebana (flower arranging). I was surprised to see an arrangement with roses and loved seeing an arrangement with a piece of wood. The creativity never fails to surprise me.
Watching the movie, Ride Your Wave at the cinema was a really fun experience. Even if people did not stick to their assigned seats. I do feel though, that it should be made clear that the movie will be in Japanese and that you will need to read subtitles. As such, children who will clearly not be able to read the subtitles or would struggle to keep up with the subtitles (I’m talking children under 8 – I would even go as far as to say 12 years of age) should be discouraged from going to watch the movie. The main reason being, they lose interest – quickly – and then disrupt the movie and can ruin the movie for others.
Overall I appreciate what the Japan Cultural Expo is trying to do. They are giving us a brief look into their culture and history. I just wish we could get more detail or background information.
I watched them dismantle some of the displays and saw people working so carefully with gloved hands to wrap each piece and carefully pack the items away. Which left me wondering, what is the real value of these items? Where did they come from? Are they incredible replicas? Or do these pieces have an actual historical story?
Basically, I want to know more. I am there to learn.
I would have loved to see a plaque on the glass displays of the armour with a short write up on samurai and the armour pieces I was looking at. I would have loved to have seen a write up on the significance of the kimonos they had. Even the ikebana could have had a write up on the different schools.
While yes, they do expand and give more information in the live demonstrations on the stage for their martial arts and the ikebana and dance, if you miss it, you miss a big portion of the expo. Thus, if you miss that demonstration, you have missed that opportunity to learn.
On the movie side of things, we got a whole bunch of information, which I loved. I hope next year some of that attention to detail is given to providing us with a little more information. The point of the expo is to educate and I would genuinely like to learn more, without only ever relying on google.
Knowing that the cosplay would basically 100% be anime based was great. I am sad that I missed Saturday’s cosplayers and their characters but seeing the Sailor Moon girls and Ichigo from Mew Mew Power was still really fun.
The day proved a great chance to catch up with my ‘convention-friends’ and chat with some people whom I had not seen in a while. Now with the Coronavirus outbreak, it looks it will be even longer until I get to see them again.
Really would have appreciated info-panels at the exhibits. Those armours looked amazing and I would have loved to know more about them – when they were worn, what the significance of the masks were, etc. Sure, its all stuff people can look up online, but if the aim of the event is to expose the general populace to Japanese culture and history, putting that information front and centre really would help.
Definitely enjoyed the demonstrations though, those certainly were informative.
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