Learning about a new culture is a great way to expand your knowledge of the world, and that was the case for me with the Doki Doki Festival in Manchester on the 11th November. The festival was a celebration of Japanese culture, ranging from music to history. Anime fans, cosplayers and pop culture geeks got together under one roof to embrace a culture that has become incredibly popular in the West. Here are my thoughts of the day.
The Doki Doki Festival was held in the Sugden Sports Centre and the venue was packed with stalls. Some people were selling anime toys, while other stalls were manned by manga artists accepting commissions. I was interested in Japanese history, so I spent a lot of time at the panels. The first one I attended in the morning was called Toys For The Soul – Religion And Legends with Helena Gaudekova. She took the group through a history of Japanese toys and how they have a spiritual connection. I found the distinction between Western toys to be interesting because Japan places a lot of emphasis on toys being good luck charms.
In the afternoon, I attended the Traditional Japanese Culture Panel, which featured Gaudekova, Angela Davies, Sumie Kent and Akemi Solloway. All four women came from different backgrounds, but they were united by their love of Japan. I found the panel to be informative, as I learned about the best times to visit Japan, what kind of upbringing samurai families had, and the role of geishas.
In the evening, I went to the Blogging Japan panel, which featured Sophie from Sophie’s Japan Blog and Geri from Geri Draws Japan! The panel focused on blogging advice and the best way to go about setting up your own blog. I thought Sophie and Geri were very knowledgeable and it was great to see how passionate they were about Japan. I also interviewed Sophie a few weeks ago for The Comic Vault, and you can read the interview here.
The last panel I attended was Bushido with Akemi Solloway. My interest in Japan started from reading about the samurai and the principles of Bushido, so I’d been looking forward to it all day. As a native of Japan, Akemi had plenty of history to share about her culture and the history of the samurai. She talked about the life of the samurai and how they practiced art and dancing to adhere to the code of Bushido. Akemi mentioned the class system in Japan and how the wives and daughters of samurai were allowed to carry weapons as well.
At the end of the festival, I came away with a greater appreciation for Japanese culture. It’s made me want to travel to Japan and learn as much as I can. I’ll definitely be back next year and hopefully I’ll have learned a lot more by then!