A life-changing event : the Japan Expo

An event that changed my life or my way of living was the Japan Expo in Paris.
Held every year at the beginning of July, this exposition gathers all fans of Asian cultures, who want to discover more about mangas, animes, dramas, cinemas, fashion etc, in short about Asian lifestyles. The first event held in Paris was focusing on Japanese culture, but it gradually expanded to other Asian cultures.
(Image source : Partyearth, 2014)
The introduction of the Japan Expo became one of the biggest events in France, Europe and worldwide around Asian interest. It was immediately popular and now, every year, it becomes bigger and greater. Spread over 4-5 days, you could find thousands of activities and mini-events about Asian entertainment.
From video games to cooking, from mangas to fashion, there are so many interests and different things to discover that 4 days are not enough to experience all of them. Concerts are scheduled with Asian artists coming all the way from Asia; workshops on Asian sports are offered; various contests about who could dress up like theirs favourite characters in a manga are organised, as well as meetings with Asian artists or authors etc.
 (Image source: Noveir, 2014)
I remember attending one of the first editions : me and my friends were fans of Asian cultures but there weren’t many events about it and apart from the internet, there were no real places where we could gather and share experiences with other fans. When we discovered this event, we were really excited. It was one of the first things we were going ‘without parents’, just between friends. We had the possibility to approach our passion and have an opportunity to meet a real community of people, gathering for the same passion.
Going to the event was a bit of a journey but that also contributed to the building of the ‘liminal’ aspects. Indeed, I was living in the South suburbs of Paris and the event was held in the North-East of Paris. Taking the train for around 2 hours to reach our destination made this event even more exceptional, because we haven’t been ‘that’ far in Paris and it was like crossing a border, going to a new ‘land’, almost going on an adventure !
When finally reaching the event, it was like entering in a new world since the venue, the participants, the atmosphere were completely different from what we knew and were a first experience of this kind for us. Everything we were discovering or recognising (like traditional clothing or movie we knew about) was a source of wonder, enthusiasm and sharing between us or with people we were meeting and interacting with. During the two days we attended the event, the excitement, joy and curiosity accompanied us and we came back home, delighted and full of memories.
Afterwards, I remembered feeling completely different because I had experienced something new, which had reached me deeply. Being able to ‘live a passion’ is something very particular to experience, which touched me emotionally. It can hardly be expressed by words but it was like ‘living a dream’, being amazed by everything and having difficulty to realise what was happening, as it was wonderful. This event was unique for me and something had changed compared to before, by being part of a new community, with people sharing the same interests. Me and my friends had the feeling to be part of a bigger group and this helped us to develop our identity and personality. It also enabled to strengthen our relationships as friends, it brought us closer because we were all experiencing a new and unique event.I also discovered the impact of such culture in an European country and how it was terribly popular. From this moment on, me and my friends managed to find some spots in Paris where there were Asian shops or meeting between fans. Those kinds of events and the Japan Expo accompanied me during my teenage years and I keep wonderful memories from this period!

Official website (in English): Japan Expo (2014)
Some photos : Mcm (2014)

SOURCES
Japan Expo (2014) Welcome – Japan Expo. Available from: http://www.japan-expo.com/en/ [Accessed 28 December 2014].
Noveir (2014) Japan Expo 2014. Available from: http://www.noveir.com/expo-and-convention/japan-expo-2014/ [Accessed 28 December 2014].
Mcm (2014) Welcome – Japan Expo. Available from: http://www.mcm.fr/japan-expo-2014-les-photos-des-stands-et-du-salon-exclu-a304105.html [Accessed 28 December 2014].
Partyearth (2014) Japan Expo 2014. Available from: http://www.partyearth.com/paris/special-events/japan-expo-1/japan-expo-2014-1/ [Accessed 28 December 2014].

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