J Con – A New Wave of Pop Culture Hits Croke Park
J Con – Ireland’s newest anime, manga, cosplay and Japanese pop culture event, was held in Croke Park Convention Centre on Saturday 11th November. Over 1600 people attended the event, which was a showcase of all things Japan – the traditional, to the modern, and the completely bizarre.
What, might you is ask, is anime, or manga, or cosplay? And what was this event doing in Croke Park, the home of Gaelic sports?
“It’s quite simple really”, says Joe Moore, Director of the event, “Anime is just animation, Japanese cartoons. Manga is Japanese comics. And cosplay is fancy dress. Organising an event that celebrates Japanese culture was the idea behind J Con. And it turns out Croke Park is a fantastic venue for this kind of event!”
Calligraphy, origami, and trying on a kimono were some of the traditional cultures on show at J Con. Attendees had the opportunity to try their hand at each, with experts of each to guide them. Taiseiyo Taiko, a Japanese drumming group based in Dublin, gave a flash performances and demo classes.
On the pop culture side of things, there was an incredible choice of panels, demos and performances to choose from. International special guest cosplayers Nana Kuronoma (Austria), Kairi in Cosplayland (Poland) and Zel COSHorse (Poland) were in attendance to give advice on how to make the perfect costume or where to find the best wig and Dublin’s own YouTube megastar Super Eyepatch Wolf gave his first live talk.
As for the eccentric, the All Ireland Rock Paper Scissors Championships saw 500+ competitors battle it out to find one winner, who received a whopping €500 cash prize.
An unexpected hit on the day was the Pocky Eating Contest, where contestants raced against each other to see who could eat 4 boxes of Pocky (Japan’s favourite chocolate biscuit snack) the fastest. Absolutely insane, but absolutely brilliant.
The highlight of the schedule of course, was the ‘Cosplay Contest’. The number of people ‘in cosplay’ is just astounding and the level of effort and professionalism for many of the cosplayers is awesome. So giving them a chance to grace the stage and strut their stuff seems just right. Over 50 cosplayers of various ages entered the contest and the winner of the Pro section was Eimear O’Connor, fully clad in a nigh-on perfect recreation of the character Unipey from the popular movie Avatar.
The Cosplay Contest, the penultimate slot on the bill, was followed by an incredible performance from the Experience Japan Taiko Drumming group to close the day. EJ Taiko is led by Ms Nobuko Ijichi who also organises the Experience Japan event held in Phoenix Park every April. The group put on an incredible performance, which had the audience of over 800 stunned into silence.
But perhaps the best part of J Con, especially for a new comer to the scene, is just walking around and having a gawk. Feeling the incredibly positive atmosphere, seeing the fun and frolics that geeks (and we write that as a compliment) have when they come together.
And if you missed it – the best way to get a picture is to watch the video above ^^^
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