Sakura-con 2011

Arrived to Sakura-con by bicycle, again. (Thought it might be handy, but stayed in storage until I had to get my car on Monday.) I had quite a terrible cough, which wasn’t helped by the cold air and intermittent rain.

I was assigned as guest liaison to 6%dokidoki, a “Harajuku” fashion brand and store based in Japan. As I would find out later, Harajuku fashion isn’t quite what it once was and it’s been selling perhaps better overseas. This was one of many stops by the designer Sebastian and his two doll-like shop girls, Yuka and Vani (“Vanilla”) on his world tour. Sakura-con was their last show before they would be back in Tokyo once again. Fortunately, the guests weren’t jet lagged in the least and had already made a local T.V. appearance and were in good spirits.

There was another girl with them, who acted as translator and coordinator. She was a bit surly and didn’t really talk to me much.

Industry Dinner on Thursday was good as usual. Still, I think it might have been a turn for the cheap? Instead of crab cakes there were toasted sandwiches. There was the “Elvis” which was peanut butter banana with bacon. The ramen didn’t have fatty pork, instead cut hot dogs.

There were congratulations all around as I announced to everyone Hitomi’s pregnancy. Thanks for the hugs! It did make me worry about being part of staff next year…Would Mom like to attend as a Sakura-con grandma?

Early morning Friday was spent setting up shop. The store displays could have been better. It mostly consisted of little accessories placed on the tables or clothing hanging on strings. The clothing was mostly t-shirts. It seemed a bit low-end. But Sebastian had to contend with transporting what he could as airline luggage internationally. A clothes rack would have been ideal. A bigger space would have been nice as well.

After the shop was set up and there were first sales, the shop shut down for a few hours: They were putting on a fashion show Sunday. Friday was tryouts. Lots of aspiring model girls were there to be chosen as the three to appear in the show. (The others who didn’t make it would appear at the end.) The show was to include a story-based introduction, followed by some simple dancing on stage. It was different than your normal fashion show in that they needed girls with dance experience. It was great watching girls in plain dress transformed.

The shop reopened. When the shop was in operation, I realized I was little more than an obstruction. I did help with line control for the original rush. I was there providing food sometimes. The other times I wandered a bit. Nico Nico (a streaming video service from Japan) had set a booth. I had a lot of fun see people make it on screen and watch the English and Japanese comments stream on by. The Japanese were not entirely kind to everyone. Still, there were plenty of nice things said to the fine looking cosplayers.

Even though I asked to provide food Friday, 6% hadn’t eaten lunch. I explained the “meet the guests” dinner was coming up and to wait. Unfortunately, it was a disaster. First was a delay thanks to Berryz Kobo’s brief appearance. And even before the guests arrived, attendees had already poured in and there was no free place for them to sit indoors. I did manage to make space using a coffee table. Meanwhile the food was getting shoveled up by an ant-hill of hungry attendees. Outdoors had seating if you could put up with the cold. Sebastian was exhausted, said couldn’t eat hungry and went back by himself.

For dinner proper, we headed to the local steak house with many of the Japanese guests. I had filled up on what I could, so I wasn’t too hungry. It was good to see Hitomi again (who was attending Atsushi Suzumi) and the relation regulars.

Saturday was another early morning. I had borrowed Hitomi’s 3DS and snapped some 3D photos of the ladies. Breakfast at the Fairmont with fashionable guests always seems to attract the attention of guests. The waitstaff ask and I have to somehow explain circumstances.

To tell the truth, I didn’t know the origins of Harajuku fashion. As I found out later at Sebastian’s panel, Harajuku fashion was an indirect result of government policy closing certain streets on the weekends to motor traffic. The intent was to prevent motorcycle gangs from causing havoc, driving away customers. With no traffic in the streets, people came from all over to show off their distinctive self-invented clothing.

Harajuku fashion is a “pink” rebellion against a gun-metal gray world of adults and the concrete of modern society. At least that’s what Sebastian of 6%dokidoki says. It’s a feminine version of punk.

I walked to the market and bought a box of Piroshki and carried over a box of water and tea. They were in much better spirits. It was the night before their fashion show, which was the last chance for my guests to see Seattle. The weather was quite nice and we headed out to the monorail and the Space Needle for dinner . There was a small opportunity to shop for makeup. The 6% makeup artist, her friend, and the shop girls were with me that night.

We had a nice dinner. The Space Needle is a bit expensive but the views are incomparable. I would recommend this place to go if you only had one night in Seattle. We shared a few of the dry-ice desserts, the “Lunar Orbiter“.

Sunday morning (7:30AM or so) was make-up and dress time for the ladies. The fashion show was 12AM. But there wasn’t a lot of time, in fact. There were some difficulties: Sakura-con was running late as usual so there was hardly time to do audio checks and rehearse. Secondly, there was no runway platform setup as promised. And there was an audio glitch and the beginning…

The show was not that well attended. Easter Sunday is a tough day to run a show. It wasn’t entirely well received given the girls only wore a single outfit and the dancing wasn’t terribly coordinated and isn’t too conducive to photography. And the show was only about 20-30 minutes.

Post show and a few hours of sales, everything had to be loaded and packed which was a big procedure. A couple of the “Section 9” people helped out with getting the luggage back to the hotel. Then it was off to dinner with the guests.

As per usual, the bus driver didn’t know how to get to dinner, but we eventually got in. It felt good to eat and know the event was behind us. Sebastian invited me to talk to him and his long time sempai, who I unfortunately forgot the important part of how he was in Seattle.

The dinner turned into the usual sketch orgy until the cleaning folk ended the show around 11PM. I talked to some Japanese folk about having Hatsune Miku come to Sakura-con. (As it turns out to our regret she’s debuting at Anime Expo instead.)

Monday morning I send my guests off to the airport. I drove them. The 6% girls apparently travel as “normal versions” of themselves, meaning hair dyed black and regular fashionable clothes. They are quite lovely either way. I can’t imagine how they might have gotten up early to dye their hair? I got them at least to the security line with all the bags.

Back in Seattle, I had dinner with some relations folk at the nearby brewpub. Lillian and her husband were with Lillian’s Japanese niece who turned out to be under 21, so no happy hour specials for us. Not much was going on the rest of the day, except dinner.

I biked home to get my car, in preparation for dinner at Elliot’s Oyster House. Elliot’s couldn’t get us a private room, so we were spread out over three tables. I did have the thought that Sakura-con probably shouldn’t be treating us like this all the time, but we all must take off from work for this convention, so I guess it’s a form of compensation.

I had a good time with my fashion guests, but there wasn’t a whole lot of interests in common making conversation kind of dull. It was also hard work and early hours for the shop. Still, Sebastian turned out to be quite an intelligent historian and respectable, hard working guy. I do feel bad about how the Tokyo government has reopened roads, killing street fashion in Japan. But there are now opportunities overseas for Harajuku fashion.

Side note: Do not purchase or drink North Korean liquor. It not only tastes bad, gives you a bad headache, it indirectly supports the dictator Kim Jong-Il.

About eliasross

Blogging before the word "blog" was invented.
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2 Responses to Sakura-con 2011

  1. Reneé says:

    Nice report hon. We have got to figure out a way/place to get the damn guests in unseen first before letting the attendees in. Maybe say the guest reception is at 7 but have the guests show up at 6 and get settled in with food and drinks, etcetera? Hmmmm. Something to think about.

    Also, thank you so much for working with the con again. I hope you guys do it again next year.

    Reneé ^_^

    P.S. Make sure you let Sabrina know your thoughts on the Industry Reception food. I haven’t been to an Industry Reception in years, so I can’t compare to anything.

    • eliasross says:

      Industry Dinner was okay, just not as great as in years past. I’ll let Sabrina know.

      Sabrina obviously was in a bad position with guests arriving late. And Berryz Kobo had to have their 20 minute or so appearance done on time. God bless Berryz Kobo (and their crappy translator), but our guests needed a seat and food ASAP. And one that wasn’t outside. Poor 6% girls were not dressed for the outdoors. Still we need rules. Hitomi talked about this pre-con. Anyway, what it should be: 1. Tables and seating is reserved ahead of time with the guest’s name. 2. Nobody has to sit outside. 3. Guests get a shot at the food before the attendees. 4. Guests don’t have to move table-to-table. 5. Tables need to be larger. Japanese people just don’t eat and walk around, it’s rather vulgar. 6. Guests are going to be late. Ours was mainly since they were working the dealer’s room, which is open until 6. Add in time to tidy up shop, freshen up, and get over there, it’s already 7.

      Speaking of translators, why is it the bands coming with translators from Japan (e.g. Morning Musume and Berryz Kobo) insist on using them? They are terrible. I can’t believe the translators themselves don’t know they suck so hard. Sakura-con should almost make a policy that prevents these charlatans from speaking for the guests we invite.

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