It’s that time of year when the famous cosplayers of Osaka come out of the woodwork, along with the infamous crowd of otaku paparazzi that trails them along the streets of Den Den Town in Nippombashi.
Rallying crowds of over 200,000 each year, Western Japan’s largest cosplay festival – the Nippombashi Street Festa – celebrates its fourteenth year in 2018. There’ll be the inevitable Pikachu and Super Mario, along with just about any other anime, manga, and video-game character you can think of posing for photographs with devoted fans. Look out for all the cosplayers with pet dogs in tow wearing adorable pooch-sized costumes!
Nippombashi’s colloquial name of Den Den Town or denki no machi (electric town), extends back to the time of post-World War II when consumer electronics stores popped up in the district. The area stretches from Kuromon Market to Shinseikai in the north-south direction and occupies the area surrounding Sakaisuji street. Nowadays, it is a maze of hundreds of specialty stores stocking all things otaku (anime and gaming nerd) — animated movies, manga, video games, electronics, maid cafes, themed restaurants — the list goes on. The largest of this type of district outside of Akihabara in Tokyo, many of the shops have the extra bonus of being duty-free for tourists, making it a top shopping spot for all your Japanese hobbyist wishes.
The festival happens in the third week of March during the long weekend for Spring Equinox. Since it first took place in 2005, it has only been canceled once after the great Tohoku earthquake in 2011, which struck on March 11 of that year. Hosted by the Nippombashi Den Den Town Association, the festival was started as a way to spark “electric town” to life and bring attention to the area.
The event starts at 12pm with the opening ceremony, followed by the cosplay parade at around 12:20pm. Various performances, including J-pop idol groups, will be showcased on a designated stage throughout the festival until it wraps up at 3pm.
Nippombashi Street Festa
When: Sunday March 18th
Where: Nippombashi, Osaka
Access: Yotsubashi Subway Line, Nippombashi Stn; Sakaisuji Subway Line, Ebisucho Stn
Wristbands are available for purchase for ¥2,000 on the morning of the Nippombashi Street Festa for those needing access to a changing area and locker. See the Nippombashi Street Festa official website for more information.
For those who do not speak Japanese and wish to buy a wristband or get more information, the 8th floor of the OPA building in Shinsaibashi has an Osaka tourist information center, OTA BASE, which specializes in Japanese pop-culture information in several different languages, including English.