Gov't gives foreign cosplayers official welcome


The foreign ministry on Wednesday gave an official welcome to foreign cosplayers, hoping to turn the hobby into a diplomatic tool. Cosplay -- short for "costume play" -- refers to hobbyists who dress as imaginary characters, often from Japanese "manga" cartoons, and act out their fantasies.

The ministry, more used to receiving visiting heads of state than cosplayers, invited two Americans, two French and two Brazilians in full attire. The six are in Japan to attend the World Cosplay Summit, an annual gathering of cosplayers to be held this weekend in Nagoya.

Renee Gloger, a 22-year-old American, donned a blue sheet to play the role of schoolgirl-turned-hero Umi Ryuuzaki from the manga series "Magic Knight Rayearth."

"I have always loved manga and anime. Having the opportunity to come to the country where it was created is like a dream for me," she said alongside fellow cosplayers and Senior Vice Foreign Minister Itsunori Onodera.

"Having this dream come true is a great pleasure. Cosplay is a very important part of my life," she said.

Onodera -- who was dressed in a business suit -- said Japan saw manga and animation as tools to win over foreigners, particularly young people.

"Years ago, business was the main motivation for young foreigners to learn the Japanese language. But nowadays, people learn Japanese because they want to read Japanese manga, play Japanese games and read books on games before they are translated," Onodera said.

Onodera acknowledged he didn't recognize the cartoon characters, but said that Japan is serious about aggressively promoting animation and the culture that it represents overseas.

The country has been trying to use the power of pop culture to raise its clout on the international stage, recently appointing cartoon cat robot Doraemon as an ambassador.

"Japanese culture has spread abroad through animation. As a nation, we support animation and hope to make the best use of it as an important diplomatic tool," Onodera said.

Costume play began among young Japanese animation fans but it's now being touted as a major cultural export by the government.

Manga, the name used for Japanese-style comic books, often combines complex stories with drawing styles that differ from their superhero counterparts overseas, particularly in their emphasis on cuteness. Characters often have big doe eyes and frilly costumes.

New Yorker Sonnya Paz, 21, dyed her hair pink and wore red contact lenses to simulate rabbit-like eyes to play her favorite character, schoolgirl Hikaru in "Magic Knight Rayearth." She said she has been "hooked" on Japanese cartoons and manga since her youth.

"She eats a lot, and she is super energetic," Paz said, clutching a fuzzy stuffed bunny.

The idea of winning over people abroad to Japan through costume play and manga doesn't sound strange to people like Paz.

"I learn more about Japanese culture through animation," she said.

© Wire reports

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Japan is now reduced to this. Joyfully, state intrusion into private life is welcomed. This is disgusting.

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Pathetic hobby for pathetic losers.

Is this the best you can export Japan? losers!! Tee Hee!

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Japan is now reduced to this well said.

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Exactly how is Japan "reduced to this?" What's that supposed to mean? The fact that cosplay and Japanimation and its ilk have spread in popularity across the world has absolutely nothing to do with Japan "reducing" itself to anything. Come on people. If anything, it's the foreigners that are "reduced" to being infatuated with all things cosplay, not the nation or people of Japan. Any country would do something similar to this if its cultural export influenced other people in other countries. Much ado about nothing yet again.

Great for these people!

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Why is cosplay considered "reduced to this"? Is it because it does not involve drinking till you puke? Or doing drugs? Or hooligans rioting in the streets?

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I think it is because it is something "Japanese" and we know the opinions of many here about anything related to japan. ;)

For me it is no different from the Trekkies, Star Wars fans, Harry Potter Fans, etc dressing up.

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Anyone with sense would grow out of this phase by about 8 years of age.

Useless hobby which cannot benefit the hobbyist, they will just be ridiculed forn looking such a fool.

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How sad that a country with such a rich and colourful history is now known best for dressing up like children.

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I repeat what i earlier said, this is a very childish hobby and certainly doesn`t raise Japans image abroad.

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Maybe it is a childish hobby.

Yet Manga/Anime are a major industry for Japan and outside. Manga/Anime Industry is also one if not the highest pirated industry out there.

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Even Fukuda joined in. He was dressed as a Prime Minister!

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Manga and anime are a major industry for Japan and 'outside' but I bet the creators of said manga and anime don't dress up like pretend characters and parade around town. They're too busy creating anime and manga (and making) money. Unless, of course, they're invited to a cos play convention, then, Maybe, they'll dress up.

Do/Did William Shatner and Leonard Nimoy dress up like their Star Trek characters when they went to conventions?

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Sure, it's a useless, geeky hobby, I'm in full agreement, but that's my personal taste. These guys are clearly having fun dressing up and walking around with plastic swords and stuffed animals, let them be, they aren't causing us any harm. It's great to see Japan promoting and celebrating itself through visual arts. Lets face it, their music industry won't produce international artists like the UK's anytime soon and their film/TV industry isn't exactly knocking Hollywood off of it's top spot. What they are good at is graphic novels and animation (although not really to my taste)........Have fun anime geeks, welcome to Japan.

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Bit of Trivia:

Last years event was won by France(Japan took 2nd). France is the biggest Manga/Anime market outside Japan.

Japanese anime is very wide-spread in Europe and the ME, bigger markets than the USA.

Yeah, it is a fun hobby that hurts no-one. Unless they role-play the ending of "school-days". hehe.

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Nobody pays attention to the health damage of wearing colored contact lenses and dying the hair in pink...

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Zen Builder- "Bit of trivia". Yes this "hobby" is very trivial.

Grown ups behaving like small children, pathetic.

Cosplayers grow up and get a life.

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You dress up for Halloween, Carnival, etc?

It is their hobby/culture so let them be, no need to pass judgement the same way we don't pass judgement on people dressing up for halloween, etc.

If you want to do it feel free.

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Zen Builder- Yes i used to dress up for halloween. But i was a little kid, not in my 20`s.

Also, i certainly didn`t turn dressing up for Halloween into a hobby (obsession maybe).

Can you see the difference, and what i am trying to convey?

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Why all the aggro against cosplay? I'll admit it's not my idea of how to spend a free weekend, but what harm are these people doing?

I'd rather see people enjoying 'childish' pursuits like cosplay than have showing how 'growed up' they are by dressing in little orange jackets and shooting little furry/feathery things for 'sport'. Or roaring round the streets in souped-up vehicles spewing CO2 and particulates.

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How many ADULTS still dress up for Halloween, etc and nobody sees anything wrong with it? My question was rethorical not an attack on you.

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Cleo- I don`tbelieve it is aggro towards them, more derision and maybe some pity.

I agree that shooting animals for sport and driving round like an idiot is worse,but i still can`t find myself genuinely finding anything good about this hobby.

Maybe i am past it!! hehehe

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Zen Builder- I didn`t know adults did dress up for halloween!!

I havent seen it in my small town. Maybe i should get out more, maybe im too old for all this!! Bah humbug!!

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F&B(sorry for shortened version).

Plenty of video and TV evidence of it happening out there.

Either way I wish them all the best at the summit and hope they got a good time.

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more derision and maybe some pity

I'm sure they don't need either. Or care.

Which is as it should be.

So, all those of you who are happy deriding and pitying these people who are having a good time, what wonderful, grown up, useful, hobbies do you have?

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Cleo- This message board is for opinions, and yes i have better things to do than dress up as a cartoon character.

I have lots of hobbies, some of which beefit others, rather than thinking i look good dressed like an idiot.

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Renee Gloger, a 22-year-old American, donned a blue sheet to play the role of schoolgirl-turned-hero Umi Ryuuzaki from the manga series “Magic Knight Rayearth.”

People defending cosplay see nothing odd about this statement?

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It's a dorky thing to do and my beef against the anime otakus is that that's thier ONLY motivation to come to Japan. Nothing else. My b/f hates those types.

Just like they're allowed to parade around in costumes as they please, we're all allowed to give our opinions here on this board, whether you agree or not.

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People don't really grow up anymore (Did they ever, really? I think that was just an illusion I had in childhood.) I know I haven't. Thus cosplayers.

And, this thread proves, a lot of middleschool bullies fail to grow up as well.

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my beef against the anime otakus is that that's thier ONLY motivation to come to Japan. Nothing else. My b/f hates those types.

I agree, there are so many better reasons to like/want to come to Japan.

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And that last line - "I learn about culture through anime." This is what is somewhat bothersome...anime doesn't accurately portray thier culture any more than Superman portrays American culture. You learn some things, but not a lot! I admit I grew up on lots of anime but the traditional kind of culture you learn from being there. Again, just my opinion

Meh, it's too late at night to be ranting. :P

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This is how dorky it gets in Japan, there are even TV-shows catering to the overseas Otaku(In english on national TV).

Akiba, Harajuku today are major tourist attractions and coin it more than most other tourist attractions. I hear more non-japanese than japanese there now. (way more out there).

Anyone remember the Tv-series of Kelly Osbourne "Turning Japanese", etc. And those shows are produced by overseas TV-stations(Never showing the true japan of course).

Japan is a big seller now(anime/manga even more so), there are now even Game shows overseas modeled on (japanese shows(granted dated by 20yrs).

And I agree there are better ways and things to see in japan, but manga/anime are the big sellers now(with the ninja, etc fads gone).

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How japanese is "Ninja Warrior" a show based on japanese "Sasuke"?

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I think you need to realize that more money is spent on halloween these days for adults than for kids and we passed that threshold in the states many years ago. Anime and manga is a tremendous export from Japan now. So much so now that.. hey look at this article!! They are giving these cosplayers from around the world a state welcome. That is NOT by accident. And the money involved drowns out nay sayers. Go to one of the 120 anime conventions across the United States alone and realize that there are conventions on nearly every continent. Cosplay is a creative outlet. And if anime and manga gets people to learn the Japanese language and certain cultural items to better understand what they are reading and hearing, that is NOT a bad thing. Those people in that picture, they are having the time of their life this week.

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I am with mountaineerone.

It is a good thing I follow the trends both in Japan, USA, and Europe and that is not just anime, etc.

Same way more koreans/chinese/etc and japanese interact now and exchange views/culture and it is good. Just the politicos want to wish it away.

If you view the politics vs the views on the ground you will get a totally different picture.

Like I said Japan is a BIG seller now. Might not agree with that the image sold is accurate, but it works as did the "American Dream".

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Haha...well go on to my university where 90 percent of the students entered in Japanese class are big anime fans. They lose interest rather quick and the class size reduces to about 8 (last I enrolled, Japanese Level 2, there was only 3 of us). A friend of mine runs a Japanese club at the high school (he's a teacher) and he says he had 50% of them drop out after they learned they wouldn't be watching anime but instead learning about the culture and language. And a BIT of anime. I'm not saying they SHOULDN"T do it or that anime is VERY VERY WRONG. My point was that anime fans generally aren't very serious about the culture and language. They believe that Japan is strictly all about anime and it's sad because Japan has much more to offer. :(. I hope they discover all that when touring Japan. Well we're in agreement in one thing, they're having fun. I wouldn't spend hundreds of dollars on a costume though...

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I am sorta an Otaku(like the stuff just not too heavily into it). My wife used to work as an animator/manga-ka for most of her life. Some of her seniors from school are big names now, met them and many other guys in the industry. So I got a fair view into the industry.

And I have seen the best and the worst of the industry after coming to japan. Same way I am into resin kits and KNOW that 95+% of the japanese kits available in the west are pirated/copies same as with most anime goods.

But that is their game, some guys spend tons of cash on getting a hot-rod, improve their golf-game, etc.

Would I dress up myself, no way but I understand the guys/gals same as the trekkies and harry potter fans.

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Of course, as I stated earlier, it's thier deal, thier money. That doesn't mean I can't state my opinion on what I think about it :P

Most of my Jfriends over there live in Tokyo and all of em pretty much don't like the otakus a lot :P. My boyfriend loves foreigners, but he wishes that they'd enjoy Japan for other things than anime.

I wouldn't compare it to hotrods though because in the end, a hotrod has more use/value than a costume.

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Why is the photo so small? I'd like a larger photo n.n;.

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Useless hobby which cannot benefit the hobbyist

Most hobbies are useless, it is the enjoyment what counts not its usefullness to society.

Like collecting stamps or trainspotting.

There is this unwritten law that you have to stop these "childish" hobbies when you grow up, and become one of many in the working force.

Although i rather see a girl in a cosplay outfit then a 22 year old male guy :p

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Ever try to have a conversation with one of the cosplayers? Strange, strange people.

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Yes, I had and just as interesting as talking to an EMO, Goth, Punk, Rocker, etc.

So what is your point.

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My point is they are people like you and me. Neither better nor worse.

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Zen Builder,

I agree. As long as they aren't hurting anyone, why should it be a problem?

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Welcome geeky gaijin we hope you'l make friends with some otaku while you're in Japan.

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And these guys are different from Sports Fans who dress up how?

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Question, how do a lot of Japanese natives feel about this? I'm guessing the teenage crowd likes it. My Jfriends are over 30 and they call the otakus "idiots" but I'm curious about what the younger generation thinks :P

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I would say most japanese don't even know about it nor would they care if they did.

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