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[CoFesta Ambassador x FRI] KYOMAF 2015

2015.12.14

The Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair 2015 (also known as KYOMAF) was held on September 19th and 20th. This is the largest comprehensive trade fair for manga/anime content in the Kansai region, and every year some 20% of its attendees are foreign fans. Since the event is held in Kyoto, products made in collaboration with traditional industries have grown in number, and there are now more than 300 of these to enliven the event.

Furthermore, KYOMAF has volunteer guides stationed at the event who are equipped to provide information to overseas fans in English, Chinese, and Korean, making it easy for foreign attendees to find their way. We sent 14 foreign exchange students living in the Kansai region to participate in the CoFesta Ambassador Presents x Special Tour, establishing the following schedule so that they could fully enjoy KYOMAF:

9:00 a.m.: Arrive at Miyako Messe
9:30 a.m.: See KYOMAF opening ceremonies
10:30 a.m.: Experience KYOMAF character foods
12:00 p.m.: Board shuttle bus to Kyoto International Manga Museum
12:30 p.m.: Portraiture at the Kyoto International Manga Museum
4:30 p.m.: Board shuttle bus back to Miyako Messe
5:00 p.m.: Attend exhibitors reception
6:45 p.m.: Walk to Okazaki Illumination art exhibition

We interviewed some of our Kyoto ambassadors about their experiences.

--We’ve gathered ambassadors in Kyoto, but some of you seem to know each other already?

Lisa (France): I’m new to the ambassador program. Plus, I’ve only been in Japan for two weeks.

Nancy (El Salvador): We’re friends.
Daniel (El Salvador): Right! We connect on Facebook right away every time there's an event. (While showing the Facebook group chat) We make a group chat on messenger, and chat about who's going to the event. Oh, you want to be a part of it Lisa?

Lisa: Of course! Thanks for having me.

--It must be nice to make friends while studying abroad by yourself. You have a key chain of a character on the handle of your bag, I wonder, is that a thing in Japanese culture?

Lisa: Yeah! I saw that all my friends at college are doing it, and I think it’s cute. I copied it right away and I think it’s great. I bought it at a shop here, and there are lots of capsule toys in Japan.

--Were you familiar with KYOMAF before?

Nancy: Even though I’m staying pretty close to Miyako Messe, I hadn’t heard of it. I think I first heard about it thanks to the ambassador program.

--You arrived before the event opened, seeing the lines of people lined up around the venue. It think it was bit crazy moving between the booths inside; how was it being in the chaos?

Lisa: I went to the Japan Expo in France this year, so it didn’t seem all that crowded here. The crowd there was crazier. I guess since foreigners have been to lots of big events before, it didn’t really faze us.

--What did you think of the character foods?

Maria (U.S.): I was a little confused at first because I didn’t really see the characters in the food. It wasn’t until I saw the special coaster with the character on it that came with my meal that it started to make sense.

--We were surprised to find that when taking the shuttle bus from the main Miyako Messe site to the secondary Kyoto International Manga Museum site, several of the ambassadors had Kyoto Sightseeing One-day Passes.

Nancy: That one ticket lets you take the bus and the subway, so it’s really convenient. It’s a must for spending a day in Kyoto! If you come to Kyoto you should try it!

--Why did you choose Kyoto for studying abroad?

Nancy: I think a big reason is because there are many traditional things remaining like buildings and culture. I like Kyoto because it really feels like Japan. I think exchange students who stay in Kyoto may have a different experience from those who stay in Tokyo.

--You seemed to really enjoy the portraiture event! Several members said they’d use the portraits for their Facebook avatars.

Nancy: It was amazing; it doesn’t just look like me, it captures my personality and such in the pose. There were two artists drawing the ambassadors. I noticed that one drew us very realistically, while the other drew us more like characters.

The interviews made it clear that even if they aren’t familiar with the specific content, the iconography of Japanese characters is very familiar to them. Perhaps this is one reason that they were similarly attracted to the iconography seen in the vivid Japanese architecture and scenery that remains in Kyoto.

KYOMAF is situated among the unchanging icons of Kyoto, yet time and time again it brings people in contact with the ever-fluctuating worlds of Japanese anime, manga, and characters, resulting in an event that could only happen in Kyoto.

All the ambassadors who were interviewed
Lisa Digeon (France)
Alas Moreno Nancy Eunice (El Salvador)
Daniel Jose Cuellar Velado(El Salvador)
Maria Platt(U.S.)

Kyoto International Manga Anime Fair(KYOMAF) 2015
http://kyomaf.jp/en/

Kyoto International Manga Museum
http://www.kyotomm.jp/english/

CoFesta
http://www.cofesta.go.jp

This article concerns CoFesta, a campaign to hold a variety of events to aid highly compatible industries in effectively going abroad, and its collaborative planning with Fields Research Institute( FRI), which conducts research in entertainment.

 

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