Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Banzaicon-Long Live Japanese Festivals

Banzai which means "ten thousand years" originated in Asia as an expression used to wish long life to the Emperor, and is typically translated as "long live" in English. Banzaicon embraces this phrase as several hundred youth gather to celebrate Japanese pop-culture in Larvik for 3 nonstop days. Dressed in an exciting array of costumes they seem to come straight out of comic books and into an arena of Games, Anime, Sci-Fi and Internet Culture.

Banzaicon is an Anime Convention that is celebrating its third year here in Larvik, from April 13-15. Open for all ages, young and old, this is the place to be if you share a common interest in Japanese pop-culture. There are many young people today that are not involved in sports or other activities that will get them out of the house and into a safe environment. Socializing for them is done through the internet where gaming often becomes their reality and for many, avatars their best friends. The youth in Larvik took matters into their own hands and created a non-profit organization called Rounin Events, which was geared towards this group of young people. Rounin Events has 200 members and is responsible for organizing Cosplay, Concerts and a variety of other activities geared towards the youth in Larvik. 

Kristoffer Ottem and Martin Severin, both involved with Rounin Events are the lead organizers of Banzaicon, a role they inherited from its brainchild Martine Tufte, who left for Bergen to continue her education in Theater Arts. Martine, also known as the “Mother” of Banzaicon is still active as the main events planner. Interest in Banzaicon has grown beyond everyones expectations and the surprises just keep coming. All 500 tickets are sold out, and several international artists have shown interest in performing. Twin Foolz and Nova from Canadas Fighting Dreamers Production, are two world famous Cosplayers that will be performing at Banzaicon this year. Shookie Monster will be making his first appearance at Banzaicon, handing out cookies and keeping everyone “Nourished” as they game away in the retro gaming room or prepare for one of the many other events planned. 

One of the biggest attractions is the Cosplay competition with a 5000 kroner cash prize. With all this going on, Banzaicon is meant to create an Intimate atmosphere for youth to socialize in, at the same time there are strict rules against the use of drugs or alcohol. There are over 100 volunteers helping out this year, among them are 30 specially trained in Security, 8 trained medics and the Red Cross. Safety is an important priority when there are so many people attending. As the date approaches the crew leaders for activities, medics, guards, library, cafe, crew care, board games, extras, tech, and PR are working hard to make sure this is the best Banzaicon ever.

Banzaicon is self-funded but among the affiliates are: Fabrikken Youth Center, Farris Bad Spa Hotel, Service Grosissten and Larvik Sushi. Eirik Reiersen is the host and the face of Banzaicon this year and he is already gearing up to make things interesting. Learn more about the events for Banzaicon 3 Matsuri  HERE (You should be able to translate the page to english using Google Reader.)
Also you can check out the website at and visit the Facebook page where you can meet the mascot for Banzaicon “Kei.” This whimsy panda loves nothing better than making trouble and eating “pocky.” (Small Japanese crackers) What makes Banzaicon so special is the spirit of togetherness, friendship and sharing. Everyone attending the convention should feel as if they are an integrated part of the whole experience. Banzaicon 3-Matsuri, translates “Long Live Japanese Festivals” and there is no doubt that this one will be remembered.

 So are you asking yourself where I fit in amongst this environment of Japanese pop culture? As mother and friend, I have the honor of feeding these hungry volunteers. In other words, my motherly love has once again bitten off more than it bargained for, but at the end of the day I can once again say, “Been there, done that.” After all, isn’t that what life is all about? 

Have your children involved you in anything special lately?


Liz Fichera said...

I know that anime is huge but I can't say that the anime bug has bitten me though. Still, if I lived there, I would still go to the convention as it sounds very interesting. My niece and nephew are mostly involved with skateboarding and soccer at the moment.

Nick Wilford said...

An anime festival, what a cool idea! Hope you have fun. I didn't know you lived in Norway either - I'd love to visit there AND Japan!

I've nominated you for the Sunshine Award! Details at my blog. :)

shelly said...

I visited with Glowstick and Ho-Ho. That was fun.

Gossip_Grl said...

My son was in Sasebo Japan, some of his time was spent at sea, but he told us of a few festivals (I can't remember the names) One is when they put the paper boats in the water the other was the luminaries but I can't remember what these festivals were for. : ( The pictures looked beautiful.