Let your otaku flag fly… at Den Den Matsuri

16 Mar

It’s almost time for one of the most fun days of the year! It was one of my highlights of 2013. A day when characters from anime, manga, video games, shows and movies take over the streets of downtown Osaka.

It’s Den Den Matsuri! Officially known as Nippombashi Street Festa for the area of Osaka it’s in, it will be held this year on Friday, March 21st, a national holiday. Den Den Town is Osaka’s version of Tokyo’s Akihabara and an otaku‘s dream. Otaku is a fairly derogative term and could be translated as “geek” or “nerd” into English.

A very elaborate cosplay outfit.

A very elaborate cosplay outfit from 2013.

While Japanese of all ages read comic books on the train, otaku are obsessed. It could be with manga (comics), anime (animation), Jpop music, video games or electronics, or even trains. (I understand, I love trains.) All these things and more are treasured in Den Den.

Detective Conan under attack by a group of soldiers.

Detective Conan under attack by a group of soldiers.

The festival is the chance for the otaku to have their day in the sun, not that everyone who participates is an otaku. People engage in cosplay — dressing up as their favourite characters. Some people take cosplay very seriously. Trying to embody the character and get the costumes and mannerisms just right.

A woman in cosplay at last year's festival.

A woman in cosplay at last year’s festival.

I know little to nothing about manga and anime but it’s still a ton of fun to wander around and see the cosplayers. Last year, there were some characters I recognized, such as those from Pixar movies, Nintendo and Star Wars.

The cutest little Stitch.

The cutest little Stitch.

It’s also refreshing to see these people who may not be really understood by society have a chance to be celebrated. The street festival is filled with people just taking photos, having fun and interacting with the cosplayers.

Last year, it was quite entertaining as I’d ask if I could take photos of people and, in typical Japanese fashion, they’d act all shy and embarrassed. And then quickly strike a fierce pose, in line with their characters.

An evil nurse with The Joker?

An evil nurse with The Joker?

Den Den Matsuri starts around noon and ends around 4 or 5pm. The festival is on Sakai-suji, just east of Namba Nankai station. Start here and walk south for all the fun.

Have you been to Den Den Matsuri? Do you recognize any of these characters? Let me know!

2 Responses to “Let your otaku flag fly… at Den Den Matsuri”

  1. Lauren March 17, 2014 at 9:46 am #

    Wait what? these are all my pictures?

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