With Taste of London last week providing the definitive Christmas fair in the beautifully atmospheric Tobacco Dock, it was going to take something special to really capture our interest. Hyper Japan is just that. A sugar-coated explosion of light, colour and energy, the two events couldn’t be more different. However, they have one thing in common: a dedication to finding the best produce from their respective regions and bringing it to customers in the capital.
The novelty factor also gives Hyper Japan a unique edge over Christmas fairs. Whilst a panettone might underwhelm as a present, no matter how beautifully made, some of the delights on offer here certainly will not. We’re talking katanas, replicas of the Master Sword from the Zelda franchise an incredible amounts of cosplay items, ranging from simple wigs to full-blown costumes.
Sake cocktails are on offer and doing their best to dismiss misconceptions about the drink. Many people have bad memories of sake, thinking of it as that vinegary stuff that inexplicably ends up in front of them after a night of sushi, but there’s a lot more to it here. There are more subtle versions for those who aren’t so keen on the biting edge sake’s often known for, but also plenty of truly special cocktails that put its dryness to good use.
Amongst all the lights and the glamour, there are more traditional Japanese products as well. Some beautiful earthenware pieces, which are very much in vogue right now, catch our eye – think of the untreated plates at places like Duck and Waffle and you won’t be far off. The most striking pieces use traditional designs and patterns to create a softer look, combining them with bright colours and a sense of frivolity. These are the sort of table pieces that will always draw admiration and provoke conversation, a real dinner party winner.
The only issue is that Hyper Japan is a little commercialised in its bid for widespread appeal. The most ardent of Japanophiles will no doubt have seen most of this before and might even find it a little cliché.
Overall, however, a good balance is struck between highlighting lesser-known products and the classics that the masses will be pouring in for. Hyper Japan might look almost sickly sweet on the surface, but beneath its saccharine appearance there’s an impressive depth, especially in the Sake section. It’s certainly one of the most unique Christmas fairs and an unmissable treat for lovers of Japanese culture.
Photos: Erol Birsen
Hyper Japan is at Tobacco Dock from 27th until 29th November 2015, for further information visit here.