Japan Expo: Japanese popular culture festival returns to Paris

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By Philip Andrew Churm  with AFP
Japan Expo in Paris
Japan Expo in Paris   -  Copyright  Kamil Zihnioglu/Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Japan Expo, the European festival of Japanese popular culture, is back in Paris after two cancelled events in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic -- and there was no lack of fans.

Nutritionist Victoria Relier is among those visiting. 

"I'm very happy to be here. It's the first Japan Expo since Covid, [when] we were not allowed to be in a convention. We're really happy to be here, it's true that there are a lot of people," Relier said.

The event takes place with financial help from Piccoma, a South Korean publisher of manga and digital webtoons. The company is well established in Japan and arrived in France this spring.

The head of Piccoma Europe, Hyung-Rae Kim, was present at the press conference to present the "great treasure hunt" using QR codes around the venue.

"When you have managed to find all the QR codes, you will be able to collect gifts on the Piccoma booth," he explained.

Japan Expo organisers say they want to "open the doors to pop culture from all over the world, from South Korea to the United States and Africa.”

As for guests, fans of Japanese culture will also be able to meet Yuji Kaida, painter of Kaijus, the legendary monsters from local folklore such as Godzilla, or Brigitte Lecordier, the mythical voice of the character Son Goku (Dragon Ball Z) and of many cartoons from the 1980s. 

Sumo is also there for the first time -- represented by Paris Sumo, the only club in France dedicated to this traditional sport.

"We also really want to go beyond the clichés about sumo. It's a sport with real values, a real nobility, like all sports, which develops a sense of courage, pugnacity and technique," one of the trainers Thibault Ritchie said.