Outside of Japan, there are many festivals that celebrate the Land of the Rising Sun. One of my favourites is the annual Doki Doki Festival that takes place in Manchester. I’ve been attending for a couple of years, and it’s been great to see the audience grow every time. Doki Doki 2019 proved to be even bigger than previous years, with the festival taking place over two days in November.
It stands out to me even more because it’s the first time that I delivered a public presentation and took part in live panels.
The first day of Doki Doki 2019 was a big milestone for me because I presented a talk called ‘How Comics Have Retold The Story Of The Samurai For A Modern Generation.’ It combined my love of comics and Japanese culture and featured details about the western perspective of bushido. I also spoke about how superheroes like Wolverine have reinterpreted the samurai story for a western audience and the role of onna-bugeisha (female samurai) in Japanese society. You can read more about how the presentation went on The Comic Vault.
Afterwards, I helped myself to some awesome Japanese food that I’d never tried before. I stopped off at Winterley Kitchen to try sakura daifuku and custard filled taiyaki. Both were delicious.
In the afternoon, I attended two very insightful talks. The first was from Akemi Solloway Tanaka, who was promoting her new book The Power Of Chowa. What she spoke about resonated with me and it inspired me to interview her for Yamato Magazine in the evening.
After that, I spent time listening to a presentation from art curator and historian Helena Cox about kabuki plays and how they’ve been immortalised on Japanese woodblock prints. By the end of the talk, I really wanted to watch a kabuki play.
On the second day of Doki Doki, I started off as a spectator and made a trip back to Winterly Kitchen to eat lemon bread for the first time. Feeling fueled by sugar, I attended my first taiko drumming performance that was provided by Kaminari UK Taiko. The group’s passionate and energy deepened my appreciation for a type of music I had no exposure to beforehand.
The afternoon saw another milestone reached by being a part of my first live panel with Japanese pop culture. I was joined by fellow bloggers Sophie Carroll, Geri Draws Japan and manga expert Jennifer Lynch. The second panel was based around blogging about Japan and though my social anxiety flared up through both talks, I’m glad I did the panels. It felt good to step outside of my comfort zone.
Doki Doki 2019 was extremely enjoyable. It felt like an event where I was able to develop on a personal level and immerse myself in a culture that I appreciate. If you’ve never attended Doki Doki I would highly recommend doing so in the future.
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