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Japan Park Singapore 2018

Photo from JPSG page
Amuse Entertainment Singapore, Bushiroad, OJ Events, WAttention, and SOZO have come together to present an ambitious agglomeration of all things Japan. 

The focus that sets their event apart from other Japanese conventions is the attempt to combine both the culture and tradition side of Japan with the urban pop-culture and more technological sides of Japan under one roof. From booths that spread awareness about the various prefectures of Japan (ranging from lesser known parts to already famous places) to the 'Mini CharaExpo' section which mainly featured popular turn-based card playing games, the set-up was already vastly different from the likes of AFA. 

As one that has always tried to participate as much as possible in an event, I was only able to be there for the morning and a little of the afternoon so your mileage might have varied depending on what time you got there, I hear it got a lot more crowded toward as the day got on. But for my time there, I had a rather unhampered view of everything and a comfortable experience walking around.

Entering the convention, visitors were greeted with a line of Torii gate replicas followed by information boards of the different prefectures in Japan. Great if you're looking for some bite-sized information on things like the most famous food from that prefecture, and also not a bad photo opportunity.

View from my seat...
The first stage performance was already ending as I entered the hall, but I stayed for the second performance which was by 'Sendai Suzume Odori', though performing to a small crowd of early weekend rises, the performers put on a great show with smiles and enthusiasm, the colours and music, together with graceful flips of the fan, made it an enjoyable dance to watch.

Japanese singer Kiwako Ashimine

A big part of this Japan Park was also the food, with numerous food stalls hailing from different restaurants from Japan who have set up branches here in Singapore. Payment for the food stalls was through an e-payment credit system via an RFID chip tagged to your entrance wristband which you could top-up at a kiosk. Initially, I was skeptical about this system, it sounded tedious and clunky, but the top-up and payment was surprisingly a breeze. I was tapping my way to a wagyu katsu sando (sandwich) sort of lunch, with a side of Japanese peaches and vanilla ice cream. 

There was also the trademark Keisuke ramen which senpai Max had tried(normally found at every WAttention event) and other lesser seen sights at these events, like a mentaiko pasta bowl and onigiri. Prices were reasonable for an event, and the food was decent. 

Interactive stalls, attracted more attention than the regular booths, and I felt that more booths should have been set-up similarly, especially those that were promoting a smaller or lesser-known prefecture. Most of the booths were manned by the Japanese with the help of one or two Singaporean volunteers, which was a good move, and lent to the authenticity of the event. Through the booths, I discovered this new town near Okayama called Ehime, promoted as a cycling town, it sounds like a place I would check out on my next visit to Japan.

Not me, but the guy at the booth~ it's harder than it looks
I did try throwing shurikens at a target at the Koka booth which was supposed to be promoting a ninja town in Japan. 

Gold Leaf

Japan is my favorite travel destination
There were mini-workshops as well, like this 'Gold Leaf workshop' or live calligraphy sessions, which I appreciated and felt that it did bring something unique to the convention, but some were not very prominently advertised. Perhaps in the next year workshop events could have a section on its own.

Japan Park also featured Mitsubishi Motors and Sony, both of which featured their latest cars and cameras respectively. 

The 'Mini-CharaExpo' section was meant to capture the youths to this convention, other than devoting a large section to the popular card trading games, Love Live! and BanG Dream! Fans of other fandoms would have found this lacklustre. Understandably, Japan Park organisers wouldn't have wanted this to turn into another AFA or CharaExpo, but the way they have scaled down the pop-culture section to ensure a good balance with the other booths still needs refinement. I have no doubt that should this event continue, the organisers would be able to find that balance. 

Bad picture... I was standing at the back...
Rounding out my event experience, was Joseph Schooling, who was scheduled for a short appearance at the main stage. He shared about his Olympic dream, achieving goals, and his new swimming school here in Singapore. But more importantly, his training toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Perhaps, a little strange to find Schooling at a Japanese culture event like this one, but since the event was also touted with a family angle (there was a kids section, which yours truly couldn't participate in) and with the Tokyo Olympics looming ahead, it made sense after some thought. 
Our dear founder Max^^

Cute Ehime Mascot - another reason why I'm planning a trip there~
Did I enjoy this convention? Overall, it's a yes, it was a rare convention that tried to bring the best sides of Japan together, with sufficient space to walk and breathe, and booths with friendly people that I could talk to and learn something new. Perhaps not quite right for anime/manga fans yet, but Japanese culture enthusiasts could probably find something that they would be interested in. Hopefully, they bring Japan Park back again next year with more refinements to an ambitious concept.

Till the next event~
Thanks to all these wonderful people who brought us Japan Park Singapore

Written by Neko

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