World Cosplay Summit 2014 starts this weekend in Japan, and most teams will be flying out mid week! It’s a terrifying and exciting time if you’re taking part in the competition, so I figured I’d put together some last-minute advice for anyone taking part and is 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!
Omotenashi Student Corp
One of the best things about WCS is the Omotenashi Student Corp, who are happy to help you out while you’re in Japan. So if you have forgotten anything ask someone for help! Most of the students are locals to Nagoya and will be able to help you easily, no matter what your request might be. The hotel where WCS is hosted is surrounded by useful stores, and the students are happy to show you around.
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 & Preparing 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 easily know everything is accounted for. Run through your costumes head to toe and keep it 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
Most airports do secure bag checks, so seeing something that looks like a sword or giant screws randomly dotted around your bag might raise some eyebrows. If you have “questionable props” it’s worth including a polite note with a diagram explaining 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 separate 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
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, so pack lots of spare clothes to change into. Make sure they are small enough to pack easily into a bag to take with you to events too – it’s best to take a change of clothes. You will have a lot of downtime and cosplaying in the streets isn’t socially accepted or comfortable, so make sure you’re prepared!
If you need an iron, PACK AN IRON
Most Japanese hotels do not provide ironing facilities so take a travel iron with you with adjustable voltage if possible! Failing that, you could ask fellow teams if they plan to take one and ask to share once you arrive.
CHECK YOUR 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 get warm. If you are taking electronics, make sure you check if they’re actually going to be useful first, otherwise they’re going to be a heavy, bulky disappointment in your case.
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 so when it comes to meals it’s best to have parts that are easy to remove. It’s also smart to plan costumes that are easy to get on and off by yourself for quick changes or for going to the bathroom.
Never tell your team mate “don’t drop any ketchup!” … it will happen.
Don’t forget sunscreen
The sun in Japan won’t burn you easily but it is HOT so prepare your skin well. Just because you don’t burn doesn’t mean you don’t need it! You can often pick up sunscreen cheap in Japan, but it doesn’t hurt to come prepared.
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.
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. You will get food provided to help sustain energy and salt levels but multivitamins are a great boost too.
Take more of everything than you need
Makeup, hairspray, toothpaste, toiletries, wipes, craft supplies .. whatever you need, take extras! If you don’t need it after you can always throw it out to lighten your case or offer it to other teams.
Don’t rely on “I’ll buy it there”
If you need an accessory, a wig or pieces to complete your costume, don’t rely on being able to find it in a store. The stores nearby will have a lot on offer but when WCS begins you won’t have much time for shopping so it’s best to be fully prepared.
Carry drinks & snacks everywhere you go
If you have an organiser or helper with you, request that they carry it for you to keep your hands free and costumes clean. Always travel prepared. Bring snacks from your own country to keep in your room, especially if you’re a picky eater – Japanese food and snacks have a higher salt content and can cause muscle ache if you’re not used to it.
Don’t be afraid to say no
While you’re in Japan for WCS you’ll be in the spotlight a lot, but you shouldn’t feel obligated to do everything. Not everything is mandatory, and staff will let you know if there are optional extras you can participate in.
If a film crew wants to follow you, you can say no. If people want to interview you, you can say no. If you’re requested to attend events outside of WCS, you can say no – it is up to you as a team if you are comfortable doing extra activities. That said, I would always recommend that you do as much as possible for WCS but if you are tired or uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say no.
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, decreased water intake, etc – so stay smart and stay active!
The Fun Stuff!
It’s kind of taboo to be out in costume, but if you really 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’s a short run in costume if you want to take some fun photos!
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. If you ever make it to Japan – WCS or otherwise – it’s worth checking out!
Make mealtimes fun and share it with teams
Don’t be lame and stay in your room. The time you spend with the other teams is the time you’ll miss the most, so enjoy your free time while it lasts! There’s a huge range of restaurants close by.
Take lots of pictures together!
Even though you’re there for 10 days, time flies by so quickly. 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 a bit dumb last year” advice for you to behold! Above all, WCS is an incredible experience, so make the most of the time you have and enjoy it for what it is. It will feel so tiring and you’ll miss home a lot, but it’s worth every moment!
Finally, good luck to all of the teams participating this year!
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