Thanks to a partnership with the Embassy of Japan, Otakon 2021 members will get a chance to take a picture with the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch, as well as participate in Japanese cultural events throughout the day on Saturday, August 7, including a kabuki lecture and demonstration, and a screening of the anime film “Ride Your Wave.”
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Torch can be viewed, and photos taken, at the Embassy of Japan booth in the Dealers Room. The Otakon Dealers Room is open from noon to 8 p.m. on Friday, August, 6; from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, August 7; and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sunday, August 8.
Also on Saturday, the Embassy’s Japan Information & Culture Center will be offering a special screening of the anime film “Ride Your Wave” (2020) starting at 2 p.m. From visionary director Masaaki Yuasa (“The Night is Short,” “Walk on Girl,” “Devilman Crybaby”) the deeply emotional film applies his trademark visual ingenuity to a tale of romance, grief and self-discovery. Surf-loving college student Hinako must find joy and purpose in life again, after a terrible tragedy results in the death of her firefighter boyfriend Minato.
At 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Professor Kirk Kanesaka will present a kabuki lecture and demonstration. Kabuki theater has remained for centuries one of Japan’s most dramatic and colorful storytelling forms, and at points in Japanese history, its fandom rivaled that of manga and anime for passion.
Professor Kanesaka will introduce authentic Japanese kabuki from its earliest origins in Japanese mythology and its establishment as a popular theatrical form in Japan’s Edo period. He will explain the different roles, from tachiyaku to onnagata, as well as the stage and stagecraft involved. He will show how its daring costumes influenced Tokyo fashions over the years, how its heightened drama influenced modern popular culture, and how it has maintained its vitality up to the present day.
In addition to his talk, Professor Kanesaka will perform scenes from Fujimusume Kudoki (“The Love Lament of the Wisteria Maiden”) and Yoshitsune Senbon Zakura (“Yoshitsune and the Thousand Cherry Trees”) in su, i.e. sans makeup and costume, and he may even teach the audience how to do the same. The demonstration will conclude with a Q&A session.
In addition, officials from the Embassy of Japan will participate in Opening Ceremonies and will present the Masquerade Award at the cosplay competition.
Otakon takes place August 6-8 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in our nation’s capital of Washington, DC.