Japan Expo 2012

by Rebecca Silverman, Jul 20th 2012





Japan Expo (JE), is the world's largest anime and manga convention outside of Japan. Taking place just outside of Paris, it covers 120,000 square meters or roughly 1.3 million square feet, and will draw over 150,000 unique attendees by the end of the weekend. Most are French, but others come from Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Japan, to name just a few. Exhibitors and vendors come from both France and Japan.

Japan Expo's major differences from American cons stem from two areas. The first is that this is a for profit event and is staffed by only 250 paid employees - no volunteers are allowed by French law. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, rather than simply focussing on Japanese popular culture, there is also a focus on traditional culture, and JE strives to promote a multi- faceted appreciation of Japan that will linger even if the otaku phase passes. This is a hefty factor in JE's continued success, and this year's convention features not only jpop, cosplay, and fashion, but also classical music, armor smithing, and tales from the Kojiki, a collection of Shinto myths and legends. JE's management strives to avoid focusing on any single theme so that they can remain true to their all-inclusive vision of what fandom should be, so come with me and my poorly timed sprained ankle as I limp through 13,000 km of aluminum barriers and slowly explore Europe's biggest otaku gathering.


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