Cosplay rules Japan Day
One of the costumes at the Yakuta booth. (Photo: Rory Daley)

Japan Day made a welcome return on Sunday, February 26 to a full house inside the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston.

Created and hosted by the Japanese Embassy to further cultural exchange and understanding between Japan and Jamaica, the showcase of Japanese culture had its last face-to-face staging before the nation shut down due to safety concerns related to the novel coronavirus pandemic in 2020 and was held virtually last year.

One fan, Tiffany Chen, had an amazing day as she went home the winner of the cosplay competition put on by the Jamaica Cosplay Club and the Anime Nerds of Jamaica.

"This is the first time I've entered a cosplay competition at Japan Day. To enter and win on my first go was rather shocking, but made me pretty happy too," Chen told the Jamaica Observer.

Tiffany Chen (centre) stands with Ambassador of Japan to Jamaica Yasuhiro Atsumi and his wife, Tomoko, after securing victory in the Japan Day 2023 cosplay competition, held on Sunday, February 26 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston. (Photo: Rory Daley)

Her original character, Grim, made it into the top three and finally made the winner by the applause of the crowd. It was not the first time in the spotlight for Chen as Grim. In 2022, she won Best Cosplay at Anime Picnic 8.0: The Kimono Edition dressed as her original work.

"I did a bit of fixing on Grim and created an entire new weapon. Grim's a creation of my own design with possibility of multiple forms and weapons," she said.

A long-time patron of Japan Day, she eventually began to attend in costume as she found the event open to cosplay. The win may be considered fate since she didn't expect a competition this year.

"I'm so happy to see the progress Japan Day's seen over the years. Although I'm not thrilled of big crowds in small spaces, it just means they're growing," said Chen.

J-Pop dance group Jak'D in performance at Japan Day 2023. (Photo: Rory Daley)

Even though the Japan Day cosplay competition was more for fun and not an official event from one of the several Japanese pop culture event organisers, the win has boosted Chen's plans for competing this year.

Japan Day's programme had changed little from 2020, but I was a case of 'if it's not broke, don't fix it'. Even with an increase in picture-taking areas, it was standing room only an hour into the four-hour event.

While cosplay took centre stage, it was far from the only attraction and action. The room was filled with many booths containing Japanese wonder; from information on how to visit and work in the country to Yakata, traditional Japanese clothing. If the booths weren't enough then a peek back at the stage would reveal displays of Karate, Soranbushi —a traditional Japanese fisherman folk song — and the traditional flower arrangement, Ikebana.

The Jamaican-infused Bon Odori dance delivered maximum audience interactivity too, while J-Pop dance group Jak'D turned up the heat with their routine.

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