Sunday, July 28, 2013

Ray Reports: J-Pop Summit Festival 2013

San Francisco's Japantown district, other than being a center for Japanese culture for resident in San Francisco, is also particularly popular amongst enthusiasts of Japanese pop culture. It's then no surprise that it's home to a few festivals that welcome cosplayers with open arms. This weekend in particular is the weekend of the annual J-Pop Summit Festival, a festival dedicated to J-pop and other parts of Japanese culture, not just anime, manga, and video games.

I already went today; however I will be out tomorrow to attend another event, Best of the West, an annual multiple rhythm game tournament in Sunnyvale.

I arrived in Japantown around 12:30 PM, having driven up to Daly City BART from Santa Clara and then taking BART to the Civic Center station and trekking up to Geary Blvd. to take MUNI 38 (since I'm too lazy to walk yet another significant stretch of sidewalk). I noted the presence of others who were obviously en route to the festsival--someone cosplaying Fionna from Adventure Time, someone with Kuruko no Basket buttons on their jacket, and a few dressed in lolita.

Once in J-Town, I went inside and put on my cosplay of the male lead from Persona 3, having been too embarrassed to wear it on the train or en route to the festival by myself.

As I went around scouting for friends to eat lunch with, I encountered my own aunt and uncle, which implied the presence of my cousin, who is also an anime and game fan. The encounter was a bit awkward, and it made me glad I was not cosplaying Reimu this time, as had that been the case I would've been a serious embarrassment to my family.

Anyways I went to On The Bridge--thankfully it was not quite crowded yet and I was able to secure a seat upon arrival. My friend arrived a few minutes later to accompany me on today's lunch adventure. As I planned for the past few days, I ordered the okonimiyaki, while my friend got the Loco Moco, a pair of burger patties on rice with mushroom sauce.

Actually, it /does/ have pizza elements this time.
The Loco Moco.
This reminds me of one thing: That Animation on Display next year will not be at the Hotel Kabuki, but at the Hyatt Regency near SFO, a particularly far distance from San Francisco itself. I will miss knowing AoD as a Japantown convention, due to the large variety of restaurants right next to the convention, although at least there will always be Cherry Blossom Festival and Japantown Anime Fair, both of which are also set in J-Town.

Getting back on topic, Post Street was closed off to motorists as usual, being used for the festival equivalent of the Artist's Alley and Dealer's Hall. The aforementioned AoD was there for some self-promotion, as well as Sac-Anime (I'm starting to lose track of how many cons they promote themselves at). Sega came by to demo Project DIVA F for PS3, and I got to try a round myself.

New People, across the street from the Japan Center plaza, was doing a few things of its own. The cafe had been converted into a lolita cafe, and the gift shop had been converted into a store for promoting various fashion lines.

SCRAP, the folks behind Real Escape Game, were doing a special event called 1000 Treasure Hunters, a variant on the REG format where players try to solve puzzles to complete an overarching solution. I didn't participate this time, but from what I saw of it, the event saw players traveling around Japantown to solve puzzles, and a few stations around the shopping center were present, for what I can guess to be the players' goals or for assistance. It also seemed to be a more relaxed-pace game than other games in the REG series, as players were welcome to join at any time before a particular cutoff time and the pressure of a time limit was removed--rather than being given an hour to complete the puzzles, players have until tomorrow afternoon to complete the puzzles.

Various concerts and other events took place at the stage in the courtyard, although I didn't pay much attention.

Later in the afternoon I was hungry again, so I traveled to the food trucks down the street. Wanting to budget myself, I grabbed a couple onigiri from Onigilly, only to discover 5 minutes later the presence of a truck selling samosas and other Indian dishes, and that JapaCurry, a food truck that serves Japanese dishes, serves okonomiyaki of its own at a cheaper price. Oh well.

As for other activities I did, I mostly just jumped from friend circle to friend circle, ordered a crepe from Belly Good Cafe & Crepes, and played a round of pop'n music at the arcade.

Various cosplayers were present, but at a lower volume than your average convention.

進撃の祭 ~Attack on Festival~
Even though J-Pop Summit hasn't been Vocaloid-themed in two years, there's always Vocaloid cosplayers present.
Though not as numerous as at Cherry Blossom Festival earlier this year, a few Touhou cosplayers were present.
A lot of folks in lolita fashion were present too, as J-Pop Summit hosts a variety of lolita events, thanks to its proximity to the lolita shops inside New People.

Activities ended around 6 PM or so, and I left. It was a decent experience, though it felt fairly empty due to a lack of consistent company and a small cosplay presence. In hindsight I should've gone on Sunday as then there would've been more cosplayers present--many were absent today at Kintoki-Con in Sacramento instead. Lesson learned, I suppose.

I stopped by a friend's house near the Daly City BART station before heading home to prepare for tomorrow's activites.

I could've had a better time, but as far as Japantown festivals go, there's always Japan Center Anime Fair in October.

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