Top Cosplay Cities – Tokyo!

Jpop, sushi, and tech geeks dotting the city aren’t the only things that make Tokyo buzz with culture. Cosplay finds its roots in Tokyo and all the quirkiness that comes along with it is just the Japanese touch.

The traditions are all over the place, and it’s worth it to take a look at cosplay around the world. But you can’t take your eyes off Tokyo when thinking of this subculture-gone-revolution in our age of the geek. As our cultures swap everything from food to baseball, cosplay is starting to emerge as one of the biggest cultural exports out of Japan. We pick Tokyo to be the top Cosplay city in the world, for now. Here are some of the reasons why.

Love and Cosplay all over town

The unique thing about Tokyo and Cosplay’s relationship is that it’s not as subculture there as it is in the rest of the world. Perhaps due largely in part to the Japanese fascination with video games, as well as the widespread acceptance of anime, cosplay isn’t quite a “unique” thing to see around town. From the Harajuku’s youth filled streets to the Otaku culture of the Akihabara district, cosplay makes a representation in cafes and streets all the time. Unlike in other countries where conventions and events are the only real opportunities for cosplayers to get together, the Japanese enjoy the fun of cosplay as they please.

I ask myself how exactly this sort of culture even emerged and became as mainstream as it is in Japan. It’s not as natural to see an American randomly prancing around in a costume. Why don’t we seem to get it?

It’s all in the Anime

The reason cosplay has made such a splash in Japan is due to the Anime trend. Anime, for those who seem to be unaware, is the term given to Japanese animated shows and movies. What makes it unique is the fact that anime isn’t quite just for kids. There are a wide range of Animes that feature complex and mature stories.

In fact, anime is a product of limitations in the Japanese film market. Tight budgets motivated film makers to resort to animation rather than live action. Anime is also famous for it’s style. Most notably are the large character eyes, used initially because Japanese film makers admired the western eyes that Japanese people don’t genetically have. By resorting to animation, they could create the perfect characters according to their visions. In an ironic twist of fate, the styles of anime art have landed back into the western market and captured the attention of a large subcultural fanbase.

Since anime is so widely accepted, the Japanese have no problem with cosplayers that dress up like their favorite characters.


What to do as a cosplayer in Tokyo

As it turns out, there’s at least a couple of cosplay events going on every weekend in Tokyo. Whether in cafes, bars, on the streets, or wherever else you can imagine, there’s something there to find. For this reason alone, we call Tokyo the top cosplay city. Any cosplayer can feel totally comfortable in their own boots.

A good first stop is Sunday shopping in Harajuku. The cosplayers are out in herds and you can at least take a look at what’s going on out there. Subculture anymore? Seeing as how they are dressed up on purpose, you’re likely to get some willing participants for a few photos.

Media events, trade shows, conventions, and movie releases are also hot items for cosplay fans. Movies like Harry Potter get worldwide recognition, and therefore are a great way to get into some cosplay overseas. Tokyo has its own slew of themed events that permit a good amount of excuses for cosplay.

We’ll try to get our eyes and ears more into the cosplay culture of Tokyo as the blog goes on. It’s hard to see exactly what the cosplay culture is like in Tokyo being all the way over in the states, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find something good. Stick around for more about big cities for cosplay fans.


The excitement of high profile stores in Harajuku are a huge draw for youth.


Akihabara at night, the essence of Tokyo


Cosplayers are found in Harajuku intermingled with the rest of the street goers


Putting the “play” in cosplay means always keeping in character

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5 Responses to Top Cosplay Cities – Tokyo!

  1. Pingback: Finding Costume Fans Like You | My Disguises

  2. Alice says:

    Very cool! Tokyo is a very interesting place to visit. I’ve just started a map of cool places to visit in Tokyo:
    Maybe you’d like to add some of your own spots and photos to the map?

  3. Pingback: Of Cosplay and Death Notes « Virtual Neko in Second Life

  4. Joslyn says:

    This picture… Starting at the top with the blonde and going right, [Shinya, Toshiya, Kyo, Kaoru and Die] Am I right? I hope someone can tell me. Those are the Dir en Grey Guys!!!

  5. Harajukugirl says:

    Nope, they are artist cosplayers, they cosplay musicians… And futhermore, that’s the only type of cosplayer you find in Harajuku – Most of them are Visual Kei, Lolitas, decoras and such tribal styles – and calling them cosplayers is often an insult… Please mind to take some time to rechearch before you post.

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