Stellenbosch, for those intrepid travellers brave enough to wander beyond the reach of the South, is a breath of fresh air. Vineyards, orchards and massive tracts of greenery are entangled with residences and bustling cars. But for cosplay enthusiasts, the true allure of the North-that-can-be-easy-to-forget-if-you-don’t-live-there is Japan Day. This year it was held on 12 March in the Blaauwklippen Family Market.

What a day it was! We won’t talk of sweltering heat that had people swooning even without the help of the cosplayers on the scene. Banish from your mind the skilpad traffic, and silly antics from drivers who should have their licences revoked. What we want to talk about today, fellow Japanophiles, is culture.

Japan has so much to fall in love with, but Japan Day is all about learning and enjoying the easily appreciable. This means the soaring sounds of Shakuhachi – traditional flute-playing – which brought the curious to our brighter side of the market. It means taiko drumming with its pounding rhythms and intense beats.

(Hear these instruments in action in the Bijuu Counting Song from Naruto)

It’s realising that Kendo South Africa is a thing, and it’s pretty badass. Or that competitive bonsai can be pretty beautiful, if you learn to appreciate the art. It’s seeing real samurai swords slice cleanly through bamboo in demonstrations of kenjutsu. The reminder is there in rousing demonstrations of karate and judo, followed by the deliberate pacing of Aikido.

(Not exactly on topic, but watching SA kendoka fighting with lightsabers is still pretty cool: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxhffExoiok)

Anyone who was there will tell you of the desire to taste the okonomiyaki demonstrated on stage (and sadly not shared!), but making up for it with the dozens of vendors selling homemade food and drinks. The small hall on the side further racked up the number of Japanese experiences for the day, with volunteers teaching you how to write kanji, fold origami, arrange flowers for Ikebana, learn about Go, pose in yukata, draw Sumi-e (ink-wash paintings) and play traditional children’s games.

(You think you know all the basics of origami, but do you know how to blow balloons with it? Or make drinking cups? These peeps really knew what they were doing: http://origamiforafrica.org.za/)

And of course, cosplay! We always represent 😉 The Vocaloids (Black Lily Cosplay, KaMi Cosplays) were out for the stage parade, while Princess Mononoke (KayLingLing) wandered into the wild. You may have seen CCT’s admins dressed up as well, be it the gorgeous Misaki (Baka Sakura) avoiding her Usui; the Team Rocket grunt (Naughty Neko) trying to capture Espeon (Rin Box’s of Tricks) and BeeDrill (Yuuhara Hisui); Hoozuki (Zaynab) admiring the designs of Wonder Woman (Silver Journalist) and Tsunade (Arienne du Plessis); or Bea’s kuudere chatting with the likes of Adam Hunter (Retro Kid Cosplay). To those listed, and everyone else who showed, this is our shout out to say: you are awesome! Thanks for putting your work on display <3

Despite the small challenges of the day, we managed to raise quite a bit of funding for the 2017 Cosplay Ball, which is always a great bonus. Thank you to everyone who purchased merch from our stall and took part in the raffle (made possible by the generosity of CosBox)!

We are always delighted to be part of this event, so we send all our love and gratitude to the Cape Town Japanese Consul and wish them the best for the rest of the year!

Matta ne, minna~