Sakura-Con is a celebration of Japanese culture, specifically anime. It is the oldest and most attended anime convention in the Pacific Northwest, with over 22,000 people in attendance every year. This year, it occurred on the weekend of April 16 at the Washington State Convention Center, and BC had representation on the scene. Our very own Japanese Culture Exchange club had a table at the event!
The goal of BC’s JCEClub is to be a crossroads between international Japanese students and domestic students. According to their BC webpage, they “hope to foster understanding and friendships between diverse cultures.” You might have heard of the club from the “Japan Week” advertisements that are emailed to faculty and students. They are the ones who set up the week and all the fun events! The club also meets weekly on Tuesdays over Zoom and all students are welcome to join!
According to members, it only made sense that they would attend a convention celebrating Japanese sub-culture since their club focuses on Japanese culture. Their purpose for being there was to advertise BC’s Japan Week, which, this year, will be from Sept. 24 to Sept. 30. Club advisor Anne Matsumoto Stewart said the club was invited to Sakura-Con this year. Typically, you have to buy a booth at an event in order to sell, give away or advertise. The club, however, was given a booth for free to “promote Japan Week to younger generations,” according to Stewart. The hope is to gain more attraction for Japan Week. Steward said the last time the weekly celebration was held in person, which was the first time the event had been advertised at Sakura-Con, they had about 7,000 to 8,000 people come to the college campus. Last year, during the pandemic, they had about 4,400 people visit the JCEClub website, as all of the events were held online.
The club’s past reception at the convention has been positive; “overwhelmingly so,” according to club captain Dio Jean-Baptiste. This time around a lot of people recognized the “Bellevue College” name at the convention, former students and otherwise.
For those who have never been to any sort of nerd convention, anime or not, the feeling is magical, the energy is high, the excitement is universal, you are never bored and you feel as though you are vibrating with positive energy the whole time. You are surrounded by people who like the same things as you and who are dressed up as your favorite characters. It’s a very welcoming environment. You should expect to be amazed by the people who are selling their art and figures, but also by the people attending the event for fun in costume. The first time you go to a convention is one of the best days of your life. To get a little taste of the excitement and Japanese culture, be sure to attend BC’s Japan Week in the fall!