“This is Japanese culture!” wails a drunken May’n fan next to me, crushing a Chu-hi tallboy can in his fist.
This was the scene at yesterday’s Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival, an “initiative to help improve tourism and promote Japanese Pop Culture throughout the world” produced by Kyary Pamyu Pamyu’s management company Asobisystem.
Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival, which took place at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium not far from Harajuku, attracted 15,000 visitors thanks to performances by May’n, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu and various activities and booths all promoting a specific brand of Japanese culture.
Asobisystem/Moshi Moshi Nippon have helped put on these Cool Japan events abroad, like at this year’s J-Pop Summit Festival in San Francisco. They also put on a similar event in Tokyo, Kawaii! Nippon Expo, back in May.
Unlike that event, which was free to all comers, Moshi Moshi Nippon Festival had a divided pricing scheme – free for foreigners, 3,500 yen (~$32) for Japanese.
Those not holding a Japanese passport were also given a free food coupon to use at the Japanese Food Festival and prime seating for the main stage events in a roped-off area some began to refer to as the “gaijin pit.”
The idea of making the event free for foreigners was ostensibly to “send out Japanese pop culture to overseas,” but the gap in pricing rankled some Japanese festival-goers, including the buzzed May’n groupies I stood next to during her performance who were forced to stand far from the stage despite their intricate knowledge of the Macross Frontier singer’s dance moves.
Following May’n on the main stage came a catwalk show full of kawaii fashion, then a karaoke contest in which five contestants from around the world performed anime theme songs. The audience’s clear favorite was the sole male, who killed with the Japanese version of the Sailor Moon theme song, but the DAM Karaoke computer (“these are very accurate, there have been studies…” commented one MC) judged another contestant the winner.
But most of the festival-goers were assembled around the stage for the final act, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu.
Kyary, surrounded by her dancing troupe, kicked off her set with “Invader Invader,” following it up with a mini-medley before moving onto “Kira Kira Killer.” In-between songs she mentioned the international make up of the audience, saying “Japanese or not, let’s have fun together regardless of nationality!”
A nice thought from Kyary (who put on a fine show, kicking out the jams until the end), but not an easy thing to do at an event specifically engineered to separate the two.