Cool Japan attendees embrace a taste of various Japanese cultures

Blair Taylor/Contributing Writer

For the fourth year in a row, Geek Culture Club and the Japanese Consulate came together last weekend to host Cool Japan, an FIU based convention that blends Japanese traditional and pop culture.

Between gaming tournaments and karaoke, there were plenty of activities for the attendees to experience and enjoy during Saturday’s Japanese pop culture-focused events. However, there was one event on Saturday that many people were excited for: the cosplay contest. Many people arrived dressed in vibrant colors and ornate attire as they brought their favorite characters to life.

Kariana Keyes, a non-FIU student who cosplayed as Autumn Blaze from My Little Pony, was excited to hear her name as the judges announced she was the chosen winner of the contest. The judges spoke highly of her, speaking greatly of her ability to craft her handmade kimono and makeup when she’s only been a cosplayer for a few years.

Prior to the contest, Keyes made it known that she did not start off making her own cosplay outfits. First, she began simple, saying she started off with just wearing t-shirts to embody certain characters. But soon, her interest grew. And with it, her desire to craft her own cosplays. And that desire helped win her the cosplay contest.

But Cool Japan is about more than just cosplay and gaming. According to Nadine “Nada” Matis, the head of Cool Japan and former president of FIU’s Geek Culture Club, Cool Japan is a way to expose people to multiple sides of Japan.

“Our original idea was to bring together the traditional and pop culture sides of Japan together,” Nada said as she quickly walked to meet with the other staff members in preparation for the cosplay contest. She says Cool Japan has maintained being free for all to enjoy due to club fundraising events and sponsorships that help fund the event.

The joining of traditional and pop culture sides of Japan became was very apparent in Sunday’s events.  Asuka Mashav, assistant director of Asian studies and instructor of modern languages, oversaw the student ran events on Sunday.

At the beginning of the Sunday’s events, Mashav stated the Deputy Consul General of Japan in Miami, and Asian Studies Program Director Steven Heine gave opening remarks to Cool Japan’s Sunday attendees. 

Mashav also mentioned many performances took place after the opening remarks were given. Some of the performers included: Kendo, Iaido from Institute of Budo Studies; Taiko, Shamisen from Matsuriza; Koto by Yoshi Carton with some of her students, as well as students from Miami Palmetto Senior High School.

And although the event is meant to bring a taste of Japanese culture to everyone, according to Mashav, the Korean Club also performed K-pop dances during the events.

Mashav made it clear that sunday was meant for everybody to experience and enjoy regardless of their nationality or background.


Featured photo taken from Unsplash.

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