May 27, 2011

Japan Day @ Central Park 2011 - Otaku Reviewers' Adventures in NYC

The date was May 22nd 2011. The weather was downcast at times, but very temperate. The place was Central Park in NYC. And the event was Japan Day @ Central Park 2011! Japan-lovers gathered to celebrate the culture and endurance of Japan under this year's motto: "Ganbare Nihon!" ("Do your best, Japan!").

The focus of this year's Japan Day celebration was to bolster and support the resilience of Japan as they endure trying times after a series of earthquakes (one of which was magnitude 9.0, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded) and tsunami that hit the nation and caused the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Since these problems arose, Japan has been struggling to recover. Japan Day in New York supports Japan by collecting donations in exchange for Japan Day memorabilia.

Nearly 30,000 people stopped by Japan Day. The attendants were a big lively group of people. An entire spectrum of Otakudom all its own existed at the event, from Rukia and Toshiro (from Bleach) to Ragna the Bloodegde from the Blazblue game series (best cosplayer of the event in my opinion). Below are some of the best cosplayers, with more in the spoilers tab!

» Awesome Cosplayers from Japan Day 2011 [Click to Show] «

[If you cosplayed, maybe we have a picture of you here!]

There were many fun and interesting booths to enjoy at Japan Day! At the Language booth, a Japanese teacher taught short beginners classes for small groups of people. Here are some of the phrases I learned:

Inorimasu - I pray for you.
Kibou wo motte - Have hope.
Ouen shimasu - I cheer for you.

The content was very limited and the phrases emphasized related only to the theme of Japan Day. It was a fun experienece and probably inspired some inexperienced people to learn Japanese!

Another fun booth was the Caligraphy area. Wait on line for your turn, think of an awesome Japanese phrase to write, and have a seasoned caligraphic expert help you compose it! Needless to say, it was an exciting experience all its own. It really fed the "power of dreams"!

There were many other fun booths. The Hello Kitty booth allowed you to take a picture with the adorable fuzzy mascot that is all the rave in Japan!

The Origami booth was a blast, and they even hosted a 1000 cranes charity fold.

The Traditional Toys booth was one of the most interesting.

There were many fun traditional toys such as the Kendama (a cup-and-ball game similar to toys of the same kind in America) and kenkagoma koma (Japanese spinning tops). It was truly a fun time with classic Japanese toys!

We caught the concert at the beginning stages during the sound check. Aisha performed with Darryl Daniels or DMC, singing a cover of New York and Walk This Way. Aisha is a new jpop artist who made her professional debut in December 2010. Aisha, international pop star who we saw first at New York's very own Japan Day!

The Japan Day staff handed out free tea! That's something that rarely happens in New York city, free, safe, and delicious beverages being handed out. The brand of tea is "Teas' Tea" by Ito En, a Japanese tea company. I have to say that the tea was delicious and very relaxing.

Otaku Reviewers is very glad to see Japan Day grow as an annual event in New York where we live. Japanese influence in the United States is usually limited and behind the scenes, but after the disaster in Japan everyone is finally coming together to help one another and celebrate culture and just have fun! If you didn't make it to Japan Day this year, I highly recommend you make it out here for next time! It surely won't disappoint!

-chansu [RPGHero and Deretsun]

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This blog, "The Otaku Reviewers", was started in February of 2010 on this very same platform, Blogger. At first, it was a venture into the informational and informal world of comics, anime, video games, and Japanese culture. In other words, just a random blog.

Over time, the founder of the blog credited with the pseudonym "RPGhero" was joined by two fellow bloggers and friends with the names "Chansu" and "Deretsun". Together the three bloggers looked up interesting Japanese culture facts, recommended new anime, talked about their own "otaku" interests, and traveled across the United States to various anime conventions.

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