Kosupure (cosplay) is the abbreviated term for“costume play,”which refers to wearing“character”costume and playing the part. Cosplay includes various genres like manga, anime, games, vocaloids, fantasy novels, heroes of live action series, samurai dramas, etc.
Costumes and small gadgets are mostly handmade. Cosplay enthusiasts love to make full costumes, using easily available materials such as cloth, vinyl, plastic, urethane, etc. Wigs, colored contact lenses, and makeup are often utilized as well. Recently, many fans craft elaborate robot or full-body suit costumes (living doll). Such production can take up to several months to complete.
Costume players pose for the camera, making faces and gestures just like their favorite characters. They get together with other cosplay friends who are recreating the same work (manga, anime, etc.) to form an awase (ensemble) that brings the whole drama to life. This group play is very popular in Japan.
Cosplay events take a variety of forms, including comic (manga) markets, dance parties, photo shooting sessions, etc. The annual World Costume Play Summit in Nagoya is the main event for enthusiastic costume players. Besides cosplay competitions, photo shoots and costume parades are open for general costume players to participate.
Like Akihabara in Tokyo and Nihonbashi in Osaka, Ohsu district in Nagoya is becoming a center of this subculture. Its huge costume parade is a bizarre yet entertaining procession of 2D characters marching through a shopping mall and in front of a shrine.
International costume players view this Japanese subculture with interest:
“Themes and characters are varied and creative.”
“Pretty boy and cute ‘moe’ girl characters dominate the scene.”
“Characters are complex. It’s easy to become immersed in their world.”
Cosplay activities in Japan are attracting many non-Japanese participants:
“There’s no prejudice against cosplay.”
“Participants and fans can share the fun in a safe environment.”
“Latest costume materials and items are available for sale in Japan.”
Japan is open and nurturing to this subculture. Like traditional Japanese festivals, cosplay events draw many spectators today and have become a popular venue for cultural exchange. Whether you join an event as a player or an observer with a camera to capture amusing images of cosplay at its “holy ground,” you’ll definitely see a whole new side of Japan.