A new festival celebrating Japanese culture will be held in Retford in August. Japan Fest Retford, hosted by Otaku World owner and anime (Japanese animation) fan Manuele Giacone, will merge a typical anime convention with a Japanese culture festival to give a taste of the unique culture of the islands. .

According to Mr Giacone, it will give people the chance to spend a day “fully immersed” in a culture that would be “almost impossible to engage with”. “For some people it will be a new experience and they may have always wanted to learn more about Japan,” he told Lincolnshire Live.

City Hall will be taken over by martial arts demonstrations, Japanese language workshops, food stalls, sushi-making classes and arts and crafts workshops, with performances by Japanese popstars ( J-Pop) and Japanese DJs. Chie Kutswada, a professional manga artist, will lead workshops and a live manga drawing seminar.

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The convention can engage fans and newcomers.

MION, a J-Pop singer-songwriter, will also appear on stage and perform a mix of her own singles and lively theme songs. Wearing a kitsune fox mask, DJ Manimal will also take the stage.

“He’s a DJ who fuses anime theme songs with Korean pop,” the organizer said. “It’s dance music with a video screen behind it, showing live what he’s mixing.

“There are some pretty big headliners.” There will also be Japanese language workshops.

“It’s important for us to keep it as authentic as possible, with the merchants, with the products and with the performances,” Mr. Giacone said. “We also want to keep parents interested,” he said, adding that he hopes lower ticket prices will help make anime more accessible to people who wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to it.

Mr. Giacone’s wife, Mayumi Ito Giacone, who is Japanese and has a background in hairdressing and cosplay, helps him run the festival and run the Otaku World shop in Derby. They have also run the popular quarterly Otaku Link festival in Derby, which Mr Giacone says sells out regularly.

Mr Giacone said he was first exposed to anime in the 1980s when he was traveling around the world with his father, a toy collector. “My dad was a very big advocate for toys and Japanese culture,” he said.

“I was raised in Italy and was exposed to a lot of anime from the 60s, 70s and 80s – so I always had a deep passion for anime. I ended up working in a company in Japan, which is where I met my wife.

“Back in the day, you had some anime on Cartoon Network and such, but now with the rise of streaming services, more people have more access to it.” Mr. Giacone added that the festivals have always been very well received by fans and newcomers.

“They are the next generation of collectors, as I see them,” he said. “Our customers are collectors – that’s where ‘otaku’ comes from.

“Otaku means being a very deep collector, being into something very deep. And anime brings a very deep sequel.”

The organizer said he has found that many people, of all age groups, have found a way to express themselves through conventions.

“People feel like if they’re there, dancing to the music, they’re not being judged,” he said. “We are all here for the same reason.

“You can be anyone and you can come from anywhere – it’s all in the animation.” Japan Fest Retford will take place at the town hall from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday August 21.

Tickets cost £6.50 online, £6 in-store and £7 at the door.

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