World Cosplay Summit 2014 starts this weekend in Japan, and most teams will be flying out mid week!
It’s a terrifying time if you’re taking part in the competition itself and packing is something even more daunting, so I figured I’d put together some last-minute advice for anyone taking part who’s having a bit of a panic. When I arrived last year there were a lot of things we were missing and locating them in Japan is tricky, so it’s easiest to make sure you’re well prepared.
Yuka & Haruno, one of the Omotenashi Students in 2013
One of the best things about WCS is that from 2013 each team have helpers from the Omotenashi Student Corp, who are more than happy to help you out while you’re in Japan. So if you have forgotten anything ask someone for help and they will help you in any way they can! Most of the students are locals to Nagoya and will be able to help you easily. That and the hotel where WCS is hosted is surrounded by malls and useful stores within a 20 minute walk, so if you have forgotten anything, it shouldn’t be too hard to find it, but it will be much easier to find with someone’s help.
In any case, here are a few of the things we learned before and during our stay in Japan. We made these mistakes so you don’t have to!
PACKING AND PREPARING YOUR COSTUMES
- Checklist your costumes. Even if all your costume is made up of is a wig, top, pants and shoes, write it down!! It’s important to be able to pack everything you need and know everything is accounted for. Run through your costumes head to toe and keep everything tidy. Write down what makeup or accessories you might need if you have time too.
- If you’re worried, include a note in your luggage. Lots of airports do secure bag checks and seeing something that looks like a sword or some screws might raise some eyebrows. If you have “questionable props” include a polite note with a diagram and explain it is for a costume and what you are doing. The last thing you want is to find a major part of your costume has been confiscated or damaged by security.
- Pack your finals costumes first. WCS is fun throughout, but ultimately you’re there for the finals. If you can, keep everything for your finals costumes within your hand luggage so you know everything is safe. Myself and Yuka managed this for Kefka and Terra with the exception of my shoes – it does wonders for your peace of mind, and means your most important costumes are accounted for.
- Don’t seperate costumes between cases. Last year one of Team Spain’s luggage bags went missing and so did half of the pieces for their costumes so none of them could be worn! So if you can, pack everything for each costume together and if a bag does go missing, you will still have other complete costumes ready to be worn. They might not be your first choice, but at least you have something!
- Organise your costumes first. It’s easy to get to the hotel and veg for a day but most importantly you need to know what you’re doing each day so lay out your costumes and accessories and make sure they’re easy to access. The last thing you want is a panic every morning trying to find the last pieces for your costumes. If you’ve made checklists this should be easy.
- You need lots of ‘real clothes’. Japan is hot and sticky and cosplaying in that heat is hard for people to adjust to (especially us Brits), so pack lots of spare clothes to change into. Also make sure they are small enough to pack easily into a bag for a helper to carry for you. You also have a lot of downtime and cosplaying in the streets is taboo, so make sure you’re prepared.
- If you need an iron PACK AN IRON. Most Japanese hotels do not provide ironing facilities so take one with you, even if it’s a travel one it is something to use. You might have a trouser press but that won’t help with a huge dress. Failing that ask your fellow teams if they have one and you can borrow it!
- BUT first, check voltage!! Myself and Yuka learned the hard way that British 230V electronics, even with a converter, do nothing in Japan as their voltage is only 120V. Our hairdryer was a feeble blow and our glue gun didn’t even heat up properly. If you are taking electronics, make sure you check if they’re actually going to be useful first else they can be a heavy disappointment in your case. Most travel accessories will have a switch on them for different voltage – check first!
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF
- Make sure your costumes are easy to get on and off. As pictured above, eating can be hard with gloves and a white apron. Oh, and never say “don’t drop any ketchup!” because it will happen. Don’t jinx it.
- Don’t forget sunscreen. The sun in Japan isn’t the sort that will burn you but it is HOT so prepare your skin well. Just because you don’t burn doesn’t mean you don’t need it.
- Take talc/baby powder. Heat rash sucks and trying to find some in a Japanese pharmacy is surprisingly hard! Even if you don’t need it someone else might.
- Take multivitamins. You might not have the time to eat proper meals while taking part, so multivitamins will help take care of you while you don’t have time!
- Take more of everything than you need. Makeup, hairspray, toothpaste, toiletries, wipes, supplies – take more of everything. If you don’t need it after you can always throw it out to lighten your case.
- Don’t rely on “I’ll buy it there”. If you need an accessory or a wig or any other bits and pieces for your costume, don’t rely on being able to find it in a store. The stores nearby are good, but there aren’t many “cosplay stores” nearby so some things will still be hard to find!
- Carry drinks & snacks everywhere you go. If you have an organiser or helper with you make them carry it for you, but always travel prepared. If you can, take snacks from your own country to keep in your room. Japanese food and snacks are full of salt and can cause muscle ache if you’re not used to a higher salt intake.
- Don’t take on more than you can manage or want to do. While you’re in Japan for WCS you’ll be in the spotlight a lot, but don’t feel obligated to do everything. If film crews want to follow you, if people want to interview you, if you’re requested to attend events outside of WCS, etc it is up to you as a team if you do them, nobody else. It’s nice to be courteous and do as much as possible for WCS but if you’re tired or have other plans don’t be shy to say no! Your trip to Japan for WCS is your prize and the last thing you want to do is feel pressurised while you enjoy your time there.
- Stay active. WCS is very intensive and you will be on your feet for most of the time you’re out there, but stay active in your downtime if you can. Lots of small things can contribute to exhaustion that you might not consider – jetlag, the heat, a change in diet, increased/decreased water intake, etc – so stay smart and stay active!
THE FUN STUFF
- PURI-KURA. If you want to do Puri-Kura when in Japan with friends there is an arcade across the street at the end of the block around the corner from the big Daily combini. It is a short run if you are in costume too if you want to sneakily dork it up for some fun photos. Yes, you can thank me later!
- Praise Tokyu-Hands. There is a Tokyu-Hands about 20 minutes walk from the hotel with a whole floor dedicated to craft, so if you’ve forgotten something chances are you can get it there! It’s like an Aladdin’s Cave of cosplay goodies, silicone, beads, thread, accessories etc and it’s reasonably priced too so definitely check it out!
- Make mealtimes fun and share it with teams. Don’t do the lame thing we did of getting a takeout and sitting in your room if you’re tired. Times spent with the other teams are the times you’ll really miss once it’s over, so make the most of them and go as a group! There are tons of restaurants around (and a McDonalds in Oasis 21) and most places are cheap, so make the most of it!
- Take lots of pictures together! Even though you’re there for 10 days, time flies and you want to make the most of it. There will be thousands of photos online after your adventure has ended but the times that really matter are the ones with your new friends. Take lots of photos and make lots of new memories!
So there we have it. My thinly-veiled “we were really dumb last year” advice for you to behold! But above all, WCS is an incredibly fun experience, so make the most of the time you have and enjoy it for what it is. It’ll seem tiring and you’ll miss home a lot but go out there and have an amazing time with everyone!
And finally, good luck to all of the teams participating this year!