California is home to one of the major ethnic Japanese populations outside of Japan. Nisei week is one of the longest running celebrations of Japanese culture; this year marks the 72nd year of the event. Nisei is a term that describes second-generation Japanese-Americans, but the event itself is a celebration of the rich Japanese culture. The day I attended was a blistering, sweltering Sunday in the midst of a statewide heat wave. As with any experience, I had a fair share of great memories with wonderful people, but I also had some bad apples that could have potentially ruined my day.
The MC for the cos event
As the day marched along, I walked around and hung out with my friend Jennifer Barrios, who cosplayed as Sailor Jupiter for Anime Expo 2012. Due to the heat, I suggested that she should wear the ensemble again since her hair would be up and that the outfit itself it white and does not attract heat. Later on, I had a chance to hang out with my friends Francis, Kristofer, Katrina, David, and Mark, the gang that I pretty much stuck with throughout the day. We wanted to be in proximity of the stage for my friend Mikari Takeriya and her band Momotama, but her concert kept on getting postponed more and more. Eventually, we left to grab seats for the Nisei Week Grand Parade.
The day ended, and the temperature started to go down. There were not as many cosplayers as there were last year, which was a huge disappointment on my end. I understand their trepidation since it was so hot that day, and the last thing that they would want is to have maquillage run all over those gorgeous outfits. The parade was great, with beautiful dancing and great choreography. I also got a one-finger salute, which was jarring to say the least. In the end, I had the most fun when I was hanging out with my friends in the convention world that I rarely see thanks to the distance between us. For that reason alone, this event had far more positive than negatives. One can hope that we can have better weather for next year’s Nisei Week, minus a rude person riding the vehicles.
Kris Zoleta started working in Anime Expo as a staffer in Manga Library. He worked in Staff Service in Anime Expo 2006 and became the manager of Manga Lounge from Anime Expo 2007-2010. He is currently serving on the Board of Directors for the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the 501(c)(6) non-profit behind Anime Expo and is one of the most recognized cosplay photographers in the West Coast
Nisei Week Website
Pacific Media Expo