Hi everyone, it’s Roland again.
I hope you had a great Christmas and are enjoying the year’s last week. I certainly am, especially since this time of the year is usually spent way different here in Shin-Nakano, Tokyo than it is back home in Europe.
Like last week, when I found out that there was a bonenkai (year-end party: usually each company or university club hosts one during the last week of December) for Vocaloid on December 23 in Taito, Tokyo in Ueno district. Naturally, I ceased the opportunity. But finding the venue was a pain as Ueno has a lot of hotels (many dedicated to “love”), and even by utilizing my map reading skills, I arrived a half-hour late. But it wasn’t a big deal—the DJ was still spinning records.
The venue was a bit small for all the guests (fans, producers, and Vocaloid staff), and it got really hot quite fast. It didn’t bother me—the party had tabenomihodai (all you can eat and drink) for 1,000 yen, or about $11.64 USD (I received a 50 percent discount because I know the German event coordinator of Mirai no Neiro, the most famous international Vocaloid fan program). (Another note: the tickets cost 2,000 yen, which included tabenomihodai. I ended up paying 1,000 yen total.)
Upon entering, I was greeted warmly and heartily by Masaki-san, the event organizer. Because I was late, getting into conversations was quite difficult, but fortunately the Japanese are very friendly and communicative, so it wasn’t long before they began conversation with me. I was also sticking out like a sore thumb since I was the only Caucasian foreigner besides Mark-san, an American Pixiv back-end programmer, and I’m quite tall to boot (187 cm). I met a handful of interesting, passionate Vocaloid fans, as the photographic evidence of my business card collection on that eve proves quite convincingly.
I was really surprised to meet Tony Wang, who works for PlayStation, which is my dream job. I also enjoyed a nice chat with Mihara Ryutaro, a lecturer and former employee at Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), where he was focused on Cool Japan.
Seeing the passion of like-minded individuals is always encouraging, but that room was burning with passion. It was quite unlike anything I’d witnessed in Japan yet. The room was filled with cute cosplayers who, among their costume-dressing skills, could also sing, as they firmly demonstrated in the guys versus gals karaoke contest running all evening long. Photos of the event can be seen by examining the Twitter hashtag #vocabou.
It was a great event filled with very talented and passionate people. Listening to Vocaloid fans of all age groups performing their favorite Vocaloid tracks was an awesome experience. That alone was worth the price of admission. I am genuinely looking forward to the next Vocaloid event in January. I love the Japanese community and hope that our own German Mirai no Neiro (Sound of the Future) can grow that big and spread the awesomeness that is Vocaloid beyond the bounds of the converted.
I can highly recommend the next party to any fan or person who wants to know what the fuss is all about. But please keep in mind that spots for the parties are limited and distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Registration can be completed conveniently via Twitter, as you’re expected to have an account anyway when visiting such an event.
Thanks for reading and enjoy your winter holidays. Have a blessed last week of this year and a happy new year.