Hyper Japan at Tobacco Dock, London – July 2017

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21 Jul 17

This weekend Geektown was back at Hyper Japan in Tobacco Dock.

If you haven’t been before, Hyper Japan is a Japanese cultural festival that goes on twice a year in London. As well as great food, gaming areas and tonnes of shops with goodies to buy it also has an amazing array of guests from japan including artists, directors, fashion icons, performers and bands. It runs from Friday-Sunday and stays open until 9pm with events and performances throughout the day. They also run a timed ticket system which works really well as you can just buy a morning or afternoon slot or both as you prefer, because they are open till late you get a good amount of hours on either and if you are only wanting to be there in the afternoon to avoid the queues you are only paying for the time you want. It’s a really friendly and welcoming event where you can go and strike up conversations and make new friends very easily as it’s really busy.

Tobacco Dock is one of two venues they hold Hyper Japan at; they also use Olympia in Earls Court which is a large open plan hall and your traditional convention layout. Tobacco Dock on the other hand is a maze of smaller halls, rooms, hidden gems, multiple gaming zones and performance areas.

I have to say, it’s very easy to get lost of miss things in Tobacco Dock and lose track of your friends, so get a copy of the map and arrange meeting points or times to be in specific places or you will end up just phoning and yelling ‘I’m near the Pikachu… no the other Pikachu!…’ quite a lot. But the smaller themed rooms do make the stalls feel like little shops and mean the talks are in private rooms away from foot traffic and background noise; which works really well.

The games area was even larger this time – with Nintendo Switch beanbag areas, tournaments, Dance Dance revolution, Splatoon, four player Puyo Puyo Tetris, a huge retro games area and loads more.

They also had demonstrations of the latest version of the ITK Handroid robotic arm and other technology guests from Japan.

For me though, the best thing about Tobacco Dock is the main stage – the room feels like a proper gig – it’s dark, there’s proper lighting, a sound booth, a great stage with big screens either side and a real atmosphere – you completely forget it’s only lunchtime and are jumping around at a rock concert or rave with the crowd in no time. This is quite different from Olympia where the stage is open, there’s loads of background noise, much less atmosphere and the sound travels due to the shape and height of the venue. So if its bands you are after and you can only attend Hyper Japan once a year… pick Tobacco Dock. But if you prefer large open spaces that have proper air conditioning and better visibility to find things – go for Olympia.

As well as all the cute and wonderful things to buy a main attraction for many visitors if the food. They have a range of stalls selling traditional hot Japanese food in the food hall – but also look out for stalls selling Japanese candy and traditional sweets and drinks elsewhere in the venue.

This Hyper Japan I think there were slightly less stalls in the food court than last year, it definitely felt less than the last one I went to. This meant long queues… really long queues… they also had less of the usual toilets open (I’m unsure if some were being refurbished or broken) so when you needed a bathroom break… there was also a queue to deal with, at least on Saturday.

Overall though it always feels like a pretty well run event and the staff and security were really helpful and friendly with me and nobody secures top name guests like Hyper Japan.

I think that about wraps up this years Hyper Japan for us! Hope to see you there next time.