Having recently stumbled across Steve Wozniak, an incredibly gracious gentleman, at the intro to the new Japan ComiCon, I have to admit I was a little surprised walking into my hotel in North Carolina (after a twenty-two hour door to door train/plane/train/plane/car journey) to be met by a six foot fox. And then a polar bear. By the time I checked-in and got to the elevator, which was offering free hugs, I was actually feeling quite at home. Ichibancon 2016 was, by pure chance, exploding around me.
I was actually in town for a single day for a series of totally unassociated meetings but it was fascinating to see how far and wide Japanese sub-culture has travelled. Cosplay, short for costume-role-play, is now something to be enjoyed not just with the karaoke microphones of Japan but the restaurants and bars as well. The streets of Akihabara, the old time electronics district of Tokyo, realised in the early 1990's that the geeks of the world not only love gadgets but comics and characters too. Today it is the heart of an alt-lifestyle.
What started in the backstreets of downtown Tokyo appears to have taken the world by enjoyment. The atmosphere was friendly and fun (though I must admit I was a little out of the average age group as I carried my luggage to my room) but there didn't seem to be a tanuki in sight. Maybe next time; but to the organisers of a little part of Japanese culture in the southern states of America, to which I have never been before, and to all the participants, very nicely done. Maybe Japan could learn about an elevator hug in return. Next year perhaps.