Cosplay Expo was held on November 21, 2015 in the Japanese Garden in Woodley Park located in Van Nuys, CA. The event was ran by Anime Expo. Recently, Anime Expo has been employing cosplay diorama’s as part of their way to engage and encourage cosplayers. These diorama’s can be seen in the West Hall and range from Arabian harem to simple Japanese sets. Every year, Woodley Park’s Japanese Garden sponsors a display. I was always curious to check out the Japanese garden whenever I had some down time. We did have some time to spare on a November Saturday before Thanksgiving, so Scarlet Rhapsody’s Jared and Eri Kagami (that’s me!) decided to check it out.

Jared went as Johtaro Kujo from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures: Stardust Crusaders. Considering that the first few episodes take place at the Kujo household in Japan, it makes sense for background. I ended up purchasing a furisode for my favorite anime idol, Nico Yazawa from Love Live. The kimono is from the rythmn game, Love Live: School Idol Festival. The advantage of the Japanese garden is that it works perfectly  for anime characters (school uniforms, historical Japanese anime, etc) and JRPG scenery. However, all cosplay from all fandoms were welcomed.

The cost for admission was $15. However, it got you entrance to the very large Japanese garden. We thought this would be small like the Japanese garden at CSU Long Beach. However, you could spend an entire afternoon here whether it would be for photos, strolling along, or just chatting it by the pond making new friends. What made this different from typical “cosplay meet ups in the park” is that the people were much more mature and respectful of the surroundings.

As a nice addition, the event also had panels and tours of the garden. AiCosu, a pair that usually does cosplay workshops at Anime Expo, did panels on posing for the camera in the Japanese tea house. The building adjacent to the garden also had anime showings. We never had seen an episode of “Iwatobi Swim Club,” it was amusing seeing fujoshi stop by and point out their anime boyfriends. The building also had cosplay repair for those who needed it.

While Woodley Park is not close to any fast food eateries, food trucks came to the rescue. Food trucks consisted of fusion Asian cuisine. We tried Tokyo Doggie Style’s fries and it really hit the spot! We also went to the Japanese comfort food truck for croquettes and those were delicious! I was happy for the affordable and credit card-friendly food trucks to satisfy our otaku foodie pallets.

Overall, I really enjoyed Cosplay Expo. I didn’t have any problems with photographers being too territorial; people were generally friendly. People were happy to have their photos taken. It was also nice just talking to new people and chatting about fandom and why we cosplay. I do like the mature vibe that I got from this event. I’d like to see more panels and demonstrations related to Japanese culture. I think the tea house would be a nice place to do a Japanese tea ceremony demonstration. I also had no idea that Anime Expo’s official photographers were taking photos; otherwise, I would have loved to track one down and bought some prints. If there was a way to see or flag down an official photographer for quick shots, that would be awesome. If a springtime event was hosted again, I would totally attend. I like the small atmosphere. Thank you Anime Expo for this surprisingly fun event!

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