|When it was Established||2005|
|Length of event||Labor Day Weekend Friday-Sunday|
|Place / location||Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, San Antonio Grand Hyatt Hotel and the Marriott Riverwalk, San Antonio, Texas|
|Price of Admission||As it is large convention, 1 day passes range from $30-$50, and a full weekend pass is $70|
|Hotel|| The Grand Hyatt Hotel is smack dab in the center of it all, with prices around $144 a night for the convention weekend, a good bit cheaper than regular! You will have to register 4 or less people to a room, and those people will have to get wristbands to prove they are rooming in the hotel. This will affect your ability to split room costs with 5+ people or have room parties, so plan accordingly!|
The Mariott Riverwalk also hosts some convention events such as the masquerade ball, and rates are $151 a night (as compared to the usual $259) It is slightly closer to a food court and restaurants around the riverwalk and very close to the rest of the convention.
|Company / event message for fans / attendees||“Our mission is to provide an opportunity for all participating cultures and participants to come together in appreciation of Japanese animation and other unique aspects from surrounding Asian and fan cultures, which associate with this convention event.”|
What to Expect
San Japan encompasses two hotels and a convention center, so expect to be doing a lot of walking! There is a more laid back feel to the convention from the attendees, but there are a huge number of police officers everywhere. They are mostly positioned in areas of high traffic like the Dealer’s Room but they also check wristbands of anyone attempting to use the elevators in the Hyatt (hotel guests only). Food is pretty easy to come by, and though lines can be long around lunch and dinner time in the food court, restaurants don’t experience as many customers at one time. Your badge will be checked numerous times, even if you are a vendor and even if you have piles of stuff in your arms, so make sure it is clearly visible to save yourself a lot of time and frustration.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event
- Snacks – while food options are relatively close, you can find yourself in the Dealer’s Room or video rooms far away and may not want to make a trek after already walking so much.
- Clothes/costumes with pockets Saturday night – after 11pm, there are no bags of any size allowed in main events, and you don’t want to miss the rave or go without your room key or glow sticks!
- ID – For those of drinking age, the food court serves alcohol and there is a small shop two minutes from the Marriot.
- Formal attire/mask – In order to enjoy the masquerade ball on Friday night, you’ll need to bring formal clothes and a mask in order to be let in. Casual clothes or Halloween masks are not allowed, so make sure to check the website if you have any questions.
- Comfortable shoes – as we mentioned, tons of walking! Be good to your feet.
What to do While There / What is Available
There are concerts both showcasing guests of the con and for attendees to perform in! Local, national, and international musical talents are booked for the Friday night concert. Guests take to the huge stage in main events and there is a lot of space as well as water containers, so you can either get right up close or enjoy a more comfortable stance in the back. Strangeidol is a competition for attendees for the chance to be crowned a singing champ. For those that just enjoy singing but don’t like a competitive atmosphere, there’s also karaoke every day. It’s run off of YouTube so plan accordingly. This does mean you won’t have to worry about only choosing English songs, though.
The Maid Café features cute maids and handsome butlers, so there’s something for everyone. Not only can you expect table side service, but there’s also a performance area where the maids or butlers can perform for you.
Cosplay Chess is an interesting draw that allows con-goers in cosplay to sign up and take part in a life-size chess match. This allows you to show off your cosplay as well as meet others in a competitive atmosphere, but doesn’t judge the cosplays themselves.
The fashion show taking place Saturday evening features several designers either from Japan and/or inspired by Japanese fashion. Models are chosen from applicants already planning on attending the convention. These unique styles are often showcased at a booth in the Dealer’s Room so if you like what you see, you can purchase some of the items.
The Gold Pass is a special, expensive, limited badge that offers attendees a unique experience. You can get to the front of the line for panels, you’re offered a ticket to the formal ball, and you even get to attend a brunch on Sunday with the convention guests exclusively available to Gold Pass holders.
Another separately ticketed event, is the fashion party where you get to meet and hang out with the designers from the fashion show that year. You can enjoy snacks and goodie bags, as well as plenty of photo opportunities. If you’re attending, you must wear Japanese brand clothing, as cosplay or knock-off clothes will not be allowed.
The Electronic Dance is held both Friday and Saturday night, but Saturday is the main event. This year, guest Teddyloid played a set to start the evening off and the dance lasted well into the night. You can find a mix of Japanese pop, anime songs, and American music to suit your style. No bags are allowed in but if you are a guest at the Hyatt, you can ask at the lobby to hold your bag while you get your groove on.
While there were definitely some noteworthy cosplays, it seems this convention is a bit more Japanese fashion-centric. Possibly because of all the fashion related events, you can find many attendees sporting beautiful Lolita threads or decked out in visual kei. Not only are people wearing the clothes, they’re going all out on accessories. While, usually, Lolita tends to be the most commonly worn Japanese street fashion, Decora was probably the most represented style of the weekend. With looks as meticulously put together as a cosplay, you’ll want to keep an eye out.
This isn’t to say cosplay isn’t heavily encouraged or was nowhere to be seen. You had your standard fare of Pokemon and Code Geass cosplays. There were even a few Pickle Ricks from Rick and Morty. Those who wish to show off their cosplay may do so in the cosplay show contest, where attendees can even do a little skit to really show off their dedication to the character. For those that just want to show what they got and have fun with other like-minded souls, Cosplay Chess is a fun, casual option.
Honey's Final Thoughts
San Japan definitely had a lot to offer in regards to fun events and guests that aren’t always making the rounds at cons. The space was very nice and clean and the easy access to water was, literally, refreshing! Staff could be rather obnoxious about badge checks and in some cases were a bit short with those needing assistance or information, yet other staff members were incredibly cheerful and eager to help. The Sunday brunch that allows you to meet the various guests is a wonderful opportunity for super fans to get to express their feelings at the end of a long weekend enjoying their panels or shows.