Happy Valentine’s Day! Or at least, those are the words uttered on the day I went to this convention in Rotterdam, fittingly called We Love Japan. I actually should speak of an event rather than a convention, since this time the location is even smaller than the previously mentioned church in Arnhem. I’m not sure how to call this place, it seems more like the plaza of an international youth hostel. In any case, I decided to go here since I bought a ticket at the aforementioned convention for again, 5 euros. I think we’re on to something here with cheap and small business. However, is it really something enjoyable? I’m afraid this is going to be a short post.
This poor little blogger doesn’t have a date on Valentine’s Day, so he figured he might as well check out this event for an eventual match with a female companion with similar interests. But the moment he rushed into the building, he realised what kind of event this is. Right, I was fooled, thinking that single girls would actually come to such a place on their own. People were given these bracelets or whatchamacallit, where a staff member would randomly select two people having the same coloured bracelet and force them to introduce themselves to each other. But hardly anyone participated in that stuff, let aside the fact that no staff was actually reaching out to the public. It all felt like a fast money snatch at first. Is it still worth to stay here any longer?
The program had some stuff on the “main stage”, such as the display of the Iga Warrior, a troubadour telling several Japanese stories, cosplay and photo competitions as well as a lot of lolita fashion shows. I arrived late so I missed most of the interesting original event material such as the famous Dutch troubadour, but I wouldn’t think of paying 17 euros (the standard entry fee) for just this. Of course, there’s also merchandise for sale from only 2 vendors, and a maid café that doesn’t even look alluring. I’m not convinced that this a good event so far.
Luckily, there was one stall that prevented me from leaving one hour after entering the place: The authentic Japanese food stall. The very same one as the one from the previous convention. A Japanese couple that emigrated to the Netherlands are making their money by making traditional bento ‘lunch boxes’ for us Japanophiles to consume. Takoyaki, inarizushi, karaage, you call it. They call their shop Yoshi Bento (吉弁当) and they are located in The Hague, luckily not too far from where I live! You can check out everything about them on their website. As I ordered my usual three karaage, I sat down and talked about why I started studying Japanese and asked why Japanese would take interest to do the opposite, learning and seeing their future in the Netherlands. Of course, all the conversation is done in Japanese.
By sitting down at their stall, some noticed the popularity and all wanted to try out some raw wasabi, which was on display. Others wanted to put their Japanese proficiency to the test, which reminded me of an interesting topic of research. Since one of the linguistics professors at my university teaches us about learning Japanese as second language acquisition, I kindly asked why and how people were keeping up with their studies. As expected, self-studying to be able to read Japanese seems like a common reason. One person even mentioned home tutoring, but that sounds like a weird case since I don’t know that many Japanese natives that live here and are able to teach Japanese to Dutch people (aside teachers). And last but not least, there was one anime translator amongst the group I’ve talked to, and that person happened to be in the same group I’ve been all these years: Hatsuyuki.
The sir and madam from Yoshi Bento also organised a Japanese calligraphy session, where I’d also participate and further refine the skills I’m currently developing at my own university. I’ve only had 3 or 4 lessons at the time, so of course I wasn’t expecting much. But as my teacher says, it’s about the technique first. We can talk about the form later. Surprisingly I was able to stick around here long enough until the events eventually ended. Not that I have much time to waste, unfortunately, since there’s another convention right afterwards!