As you might expect, Japan has a lot of cosplay events, but few can match the scale of Osaka’s Nippombashi Street Festa. Unlike events held inside a convention center or other indoor venues, Street Festa, as its name implies, takes place on the streets of Osaka’s Denden Town electronics district, the biggest otaku gathering point in central Japan.
With street traffic shut down for the event’s cosplay parade and no charged admission for spectators, Street Festa draws some 200,000 people in a typical year, and in 2015 brought roughly 250,000 cosplay fans to the neighborhood.
However, the event’s organizers have sent out a notice that this year’s Street Festa, which was scheduled to take place on Sunday, March 15, has been cancelled. The reason? Concerns about the continuing coronavirus situation.
▼ Nippombashi Street Festa 2019
While Japan’s number of confirmed infections still trails far, far behind China’s, the Japanese government has been finding an increasing number of cases within the country, with the first coronavirus death occurring in Kanagawa Prefecture less than a week ago.
Street Festa’s festivities have huge numbers of people standing in close proximity to one another for extended periods of time, conditions that could lead to transmission of the virus should a carrier be present. Making things especially worrisome is that March is the height of cedar pollen allergy season in Japan. With hay fever symptoms having some similarities to those for early-onset pneumonia, it could be especially difficult to notice dangerous conditions, especially with Japan’s ongoing nationwide shortage of surgical masks.
“We are extremely sad for everyone who had been looking forward to attending as either a spectator or cosplay participant, but we ask for your understanding,” said Street Festa’s organizers in the cancellation statement, citing its concern for both out-of-town attendees and local residents. “Also please be advised that we will not be rescheduling this year’s event.”
While general spectators pay no admission fees to Street Festa, participating cosplayers and photographers do have to purchase wristbands, and the organizers say they’ll be addressing what will be done with already-paid fees at a later date.
Meanwhile, Anime Japan, Tokyo’s largest anime industry event/fan gathering, has sent out a statement advising would-be attendees that it is also considering cancelling this year’s iteration, currently scheduled for March 21-24 at the Tokyo Big Site conference center, though as of this writing the plan is for the convention to go on as scheduled.
Source: Nippombashi Street Festa via Jin, Twitter/@animejapan_aj via Otakomu
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