Monday, May 7, 2018

May the Fourth Be with You - Star Wars Day in Tokyo 2018

This was the first year that I actually trekked to Tokyo for the Star Wars Day. I had lofty plans of getting up at the crack of dawn and hopping on an early train to the capital. I wanted to be in Tokyo by 9AM. Very ambitious considering that it would require me to get up at 5:30AM, on a public holiday, no less.

And then I had the brilliant idea to invite my friend to tag along. And she said "OMG! So exciting! Of course! Yes! Let's do it!", or somesuch.

When May 4th rolled around, the force was definitely not with us. The dumb twat wasn't ready. She wasn't ready at 6:30. She wasn't ready at 7. And she wasn't ready at 8 either. When we finally got going it was already after 9. That brought us to Tokyo close to noon. We might as well have stayed home...

But first things first...

If you have been living under a rock in a galaxy far, far away and don't know what Star Wars Day is, now is your chance to finally find out.

Star Wars Day is celebrated on May 4th, because May the fourth. Get it? May the fourth be with you. It works especially well in Japanese, because both "fourth" and "force" are pronounced the same by Japanese speakers and sound exactly the same to Japanese ears.

The event we were planning to attend was organized by J-Wave (one of Tokyo's radio stations) and held at Sanagi Space just a stone's throw from the South East exit of Shinjuku JR Station.

I just love this backpack!

Because May 4th is a public holiday (as are May 3rd and May 5th, too - so-called "Golden Week in Japan) and May 6th happened to be a Sunday this year, Tokyo got not one Star Wars Day, but a whole extended Star Wars weekend.

Golden Week meant that apart from the poor souls working in the service industry, the entire Japan was on vacation. That, in turn, meant that trains were packed and Tokyo was overflowing with people. It wasn't any better on the expressways. There was a massive 32 kilometer traffic jam on the Tohoku Highway going to Nikko.

When we got to Shinjuku, the line to Sanagi Space stretched down the block, around the building, across the street and back towards the station. A security guy cheerfully informed us that it was "oh, about a four hour wait."

My friend patiently settled herself at the end of the line, for all intents and purposes quite content to spend the entire day waiting there.

When after an hour the line didn't move forward at all, she finally mumbled "I'm so sorry, Anna" and very quickly ducked, because she could see I was ready to punch her square in the face.

While she was waiting, I walked around taking photos.

People were happy to pose, everybody was helping each other to take photos and the atmosphere was super friendly and filled with anticipation. With just one exception. Close to the exit from the Sanagi Space, I caught a procession of storm troopers marching along with guys with official organizer badges. One of the special badge holders was a white guy. And guess who screamed "no photos!" while foaming at the mouth? Yep, the white dude. While his  Japanese colleagues were simply walking forward escorting the storm troopers, he was the only one who objected to fans snapping pictures. Delusions of grandeur much, my friend?

Of course I ignored him and took a photo. Duh!

There were some interesting characters waiting in line.

The princesses came as late as we did, but because they were in costume, they just kind of snuggled up next to Chewie and skipped about a hundred people.

The shoes, ladies! Next time do something about those damn shoes!

The rebels were extremely happy, they were about an hour away from the entrance. Almost inside!

Darth Maul was busy playing a smartphone game.

And there is nothing quite as bizarre as a grown Japanese man dressed up as BB8.

There were plenty of stormtroopers.

And they knew their main purpose was to stand there and pose for photos. Such troopers!

The person on the right, not sure if it's a woman, or a man dressed as a woman. We've been debating it on the way home. I said it's a man, my friend disagreed. If it's a woman, she is bloody tall. Definitely taller than me and even taller than the friendly trooper here.

Our blue alien hero was definitely a woman.

Of course there was also a Kylo Ren (there were several actually) walking around.

I chatted with a couple of people who managed to get inside Sanagi Space and while they said it was fun, it was also somewhat underwhelming. J-Wave clearly underestimated the popularity of Star Wars Day and the staffers were visibly tense and frustrated. They had to deal with the clusterfuck outside and at the same time keep moving people along on the inside. And apparently, some people when they finally got inside after hours of waiting in the heat (it was bloody hot that day!) did not want to be rushed or moved along.

I really wanted to take a photo sitting next to the cardboard cutout of the dashing young Solo, but sadly, no luck.

As you can see, the Solo movie is titled "Han Solo" in Japan, or rather "Han Soro," because there's no "L" in Japanese. And it's going to be released on June 29th in Japan. More than a month after the rest of the world. This is especially frustrating since other Star Wars movies premiered in Japan on the same weekend as the US.

I wasn't going to put up with this kind of bullshit and planned a trip to Europe to coincide with the release of the Solo movie in May. I was hoping to see it on the premiere day, but unfortunately, that will not happen. Schedules and plane tickets and such. I'll try to go to the movies on May 28th. Yay me!

Or, I may see it in Dubai on May 26th. I'm still exploring my options. One thing is certain. I am not going to wait one full month for the Japanese premiere. 

And here's a final group photo of the most in-you-face cosplayers.

When after an hour the line didn't move at all, my friend finally realized it was an exercise in futility and we decided to leave. Next year you'd better be ready at 6AM, you numbnut! Or I'm not taking you at all.

And next year I should (hopefully) be a member of the Japanese Garrison of the 501st Legion. I'm currently waiting for my very own stormtrooper armor.

And this is how Star Wars Day was celebrated at Heathrow Airport:

It would never happen at a Japanese airport. Well done, Heathrow!!! But next year, please, can you add Scarif to the list?

May the fourth be with you.

See you again next year.

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