St. Petersburg to host Tokyo Pop Culture Index show

Translated by The Asahi Shimbun from the website of Anime Anime Japan Ltd. 

St. Petersburg will be the next big European city to host a convention dedicated to Japanese pop culture, the event’s organizer, Biken International Co., announced Feb. 17.

The Tokyo Pop Culture Index (Topix) show will be held March 12-13 at the Baltic House Theater in this Russian city famed for its cultural fervor.

Biken International, based in Japan, publishes books and organizes events related to Japanese culture and arts, both traditional and modern.

The company is the official partner for the Japan Expo held in Paris each year, and plans to use its expertise developed there in this Russian endeavor.

While events such as the Paris Japan Expo and Anime Expo in Los Angeles attract crowds of fans, few such expos take place in emerging countries. The ones that do happen tend to be small in scale.

Russia was apparently chosen as it appears to be a promising market for Japanese culture. The event will be held as part of the Japanese Spring in St. Petersburg event, hosted annually by the Russia-Japan Friendship Society.

Local government organizations in St. Petersburg and the Japanese consulate in the city are expected to contribute to the event, whose two main attractions will be stage performances and exhibition booths.

Thanks to Biken International’s accumulated experience in Japanese traditional culture, Topix will enjoy a distinctive flavor not seen in other similar events outside Russia, which typically pay homage mainly to anime and manga.

At Topix, a wider selection of cosplay fashion, arts and photography will add to the excitement.

Curators from the State Hermitage Museum, local art dealers, scholars and artists will oversee the program. From Japan, officials and members from the Japan Fashion Association, Digital Hollywood University, Vantan Design Institute and Japan Decorator Association will collaborate.

In addition, local magazines dedicated to Japanese anime, cosplay and rock music will also provide support.

The future of Topix hinges on how it combines these elements to come up with attractive programs.

Topix is being held at the initiative of the Japanese company. This is in sharp contrast to pop culture events in other countries, many of which grew up into large-scale events from grass-roots efforts by local enthusiasts.

But with Japan Expo enjoying much success in recent years, similar profitable events are being organized by Japanese companies. Prime examples are Anime Festival Asia in Singapore, Hyper Japan London and Hong Kong’s C3. The trend is expanding.

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