Party in the 2.5th Dimension!
Subculture in Yokohama
Somewhere between the real and virtual is a strange and exciting dimension that is absurdly geeky and gorgeous. On the one hand, there is an abundance of beautiful women, powerful cars and motorcycles, and tasty food. On the other, there are a panoply of geeky and nerdy otaku, as well as fun-seeking families. Throughout, however, there are smiles and a lot of weird dancing to wild and loud electronic music.
In Kanagawa Prefecture, for the first time, Yokohama celebrated this subculture with an event, the 2.5 Jigen Kami Matsuri (2.5 Dimension Festival of the Gods). I spent the day there, wandering the streets and the crowds, mingling in front of the stage, and in the halls of the governmental building where the event was held. It was a national holiday, Labor Thanksgiving Day. It was, perhaps, very fitting that on the day which celebrates all working people in Japan, that the prefectural government of Kanagawa would host in its midst a generation of people who are having trouble fitting into the stiff, structured, and unrelenting public society that contemporary Japan has become.
Vampires, Waiters, spilled drinks, and Idols
While what stood out was the idol singers, cosplay dancers, and the otaku fans, along with the many awesome "Itasha" vehicles - mostly sports cars and motorcycles, there were several other noteworthy events and attractions. A real 3D game, "Vampire Holmes," was a real-life game based on a video game for smartphones.
While many of the participants apparently had previous experience playing similar games, where groups of strangers interact to solve puzzles and mysteries set up by the game-master, the Vampire Holmes game shares many of the story lines found in the 2D video game. Our group included 3 experienced game players and 4 first-time players. We were, like many of the other groups, able to resolve most of the puzzles, completing 2 of the 3 stages. Yet, like nearly all of the groups, we were distracted by the puzzles and the "clues" and missed out on the game's fundamental tenets, making us forget to replenish the water in our all important vial. The result - we were eaten for dinner by the vampires.
Alas, many of the participants were seen taking photos afterwards with the vampires and other creatures, so we must not have been a very appetizing meal.
Down the street from the festival, another event, the Waiters Race Japan, was taking place. The race was a 300 meter dash, with waiters holding trays balancing a bottle of beer and three full glasses of water.
The Waiters Race was the Japan edition of an international competition, with the winners of the individual and team competitions set to go to the U.K. (I think) to represent Japan. Their run was 150 meters in one direction, around a cone, and back to the finish line where the race started. Since the stage where the cosplayers and idols were singing, dancing, and showing their colors were just across the street from the turning point, I kept wondering how amusing (and disconcerting) it must have been for some of the running waiters to see a crossdressing idol cosplayer across the road as they turn at the cone for the return run. Not surprisingly, that point is one of the spots where many of the overturning bottles and glasses disqualified the unfortunate runner.
I wandered to the Waiters Race around lunch time, thinking that might be a good place for food. Turns out that the waiters were too busy with the race and the better food was in the 2.5th dimension. Luckily, the steak donburi and the mochi-mochi fries were in 3D. On one table to my right were two beautiful cosplayers and diagonally opposite were two crossdressing cosplayers who were - ummm - a bit less beautiful. One was around 6 feet tall and had fairly hairy legs. I suppose (s)he wasn't a full-time crossdressing cosplayer. it was difficult to tell to what extent the participants were doing this as occupation, preoccupation, vocation or avocation.
I don't think it really matters. There were many smiles everywhere that day. And a lot of people dancing and singing - good and bad - as though nothing else matters. In a pretty uniform nation, that's pretty good to see. Even better, supported by a prefectural government. What's not to like?
This brief video features mostly cosplayers, idols, fancy cars, and, well, beautiful women. It probably isn't representative of everything that was there. Nevertheless, it was what I noticed most in my visit to the 2.5th Dimension. I think I'm taking a ride back again next year....