Hyper Japan 2012

10th March 2012

Hyper Japan is an annual cultural event, celebrating all things Japanese. I was viewing it as a warm up to my impeding visit to Japan last this year and was really quite excited about attending.

It turns out it was not as big as I thought it was going to be, and there was not really anything new for me to see although I am not quite sure what  was expecting. I guess I am lucky to have been able to visit the actual country, but I imagine for someone who had never been it was pretty much Japan in a nutshell.

There was something intriuging which looking up afterwards has turned out to be very interesting – the whole dressing up trend. There was lots of people dressed up not only as anime chararcters but in the ‘Lolita’ style.

You maybe familiar with the zany fashion of the area in Tokyo called Harajuku made even more famous by Gwen Stefani and her Harajuku Girls.

Harajuku is a melting pot of many diverse frankly insane styles, of which Lolita is one. It is influenced by the Victorian and Edwardian periods, but then is injected with a leathel dose of sugar and fluffiness. Basically it’s Little Bo Peep in over drive.

Here is the oh so kawaii Megu-san of the popular Lolita fashon store Baby, the Stars Shine Bright (did I mention the Japanese also love to use English, sometimes in a non-sensical way in advertisements and to decorate cutesy products. Oh and look there is a Wiki page on it too). I am sure she got asked for her photo a million times that day but she was very gracious.

Me being me, I still managed to be inspired by the food. I have been dreaming of making okonomiyaki (a savoury pancake filled with vegetables) for a while and the ones at Hyper Japan had eggs in but this merely put me into action to make my own when we got home.

Vegetarian but not vegan oknomiyaki at HJ. Boo!
Vegan okonomiyaki at MI. Yay!!

My first attempt (recipe here) was deemed by the all knowing resdident expert on Japanese food aka Baba, to have too much flour and not enough vegetables (there was half a cabbage in there!). To be honest, smothered in tonkatsu sauce and my homemade Kewpie mayo they tasted pretty much how I remember, and Baba did have several helpings so I know they were pretty close. 🙂

Another item that took my interest was the choc banana stall – banana, chocolate and sprinkles. What could be simpler?

Here is one I made earlier:

I used Plamil sugar free choc, drizzled rather than dipped and then let the Lil Man sprinkle them and most of the kitchen counter himself. He then proceeded to pick all the chocolate off and leave the banana. Well, he’s not stupid (dipping next time methinks).

Nice Ice kakigori stall

This was the flavoured ice stall. On the left you can see the machine used to make the ice shavings which are then covered in a flavoured brightly coloured syrup. Kind of like a Slush Puppy but better. I should really have gone over and enquired about the veganess of their syrups as I am pretty sure I could have had something, they have a FB page here. Yet another recipe added to my to do list.

After a few circuits of HJ we were done, but I could not go home without stopping off at Wholefoods which was just a short bus ride away.  I stocked up on my standard Wholefoods items: Amy’s mac and cheese and a lilttle baby tub of Booja Booja, plus a Saf wrap for my dinnner and some Co Yo.

Sundried tomato cheese wrap

The Saf stuff is pretty pricey, you can also buy small pots of their amazing raw cheeses. The wrap was as expected, delicious, filled with quinoa and a sundried version of their cashew cheese. That day was a funny one for me, I hardly had an appetite so I had one half of the wrap the next day and it was still just as good.

Co Yo is a yogurt made from coconut (dear Lord they do ice cream too, must be heavenly!), and is so thick and creamy it is reminicent of greek yogurt. It was that good that upon opening it and discovering it had gone off, I still contemplated eating it. The conversation in my head being:

‘Wow this is flipping yum!’

”Wait, should it be fizzing in my mouth?’

‘It probably won’t kill me if I keep eating it?’

‘Mitsu stop, put the spoon down’.

In the end the fact that I had paid £4.99 for it quashed the piggy Mitsu and kick started the indignant Mitsu. Really if you pay that much you should expect it to be 100%.

So I complained and returned it. Despite this first negative experience I look forward to revisting Co Yo soon.

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