The 7th J-Pop Summit, a showcase for modern Japanese culture, lands in San Francisco August 8–9. Launched in 2008 by Seiji Horibuchi, a founder of manga publisher Viz Media, J-Pop Summit is an annual celebration of what's new and fun in Japanese manga, music, fashion, film, and technology.
Last year's event attracted over 120,000 attendees; this year the summit has evolved from a free block party in San Francisco’s Japan Town into a multi-venue event with ticketed admission to its concerts and exhibits. It's also moving from Japan Town to Fort Mason Center, the large, warehouse-size seaside venue facing the Golden Gate Bridge that hosted Alternative Press Expo in 2015. Events are also being held San Francisco’s Union Square and there will be film screenings at the New People cinema and The Castro Theater.
Among those participating in the summit for the first time is Kodansha Advanced Media, a new San Francisco outpost for digital manga distribution, which is hosting a manga showcase event at the offices it shares with its partner Digital Garage, a startup incubator. The free open house begins Friday, August 7, and will showcase an array of manga artwork by manga superstars like Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), Naoko Takeuchi (Sailor Moon), Hajime Isayama (Attack on Titan), and Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tail).
In addition, the house is bringing a "life-sized" Titan head, inspired by Attack on Titan, to J-Pop’s Interactive Pavilion, and will offer fans a demo of a virtual-reality comics reader, the FOVE eye-tracking VR headset.
"We're here to look at different ways that content can reach people,” said KAM general manager Alvin Lu. “Some of that can be quite exploratory and outside the realm of what we think of as e-books.” KAM will also showcase an augmented reality experience with the Ricoh Theta 360-degree camera. Lu said the camera offers "a manga-into-reality experience that we'll be exploring more of at kodanshacomics.com.”
J-Pop Summit provides a venue for a range of top Japanese creative talent, from pop music divas like Kyary Pamyu Pamyu to Harajuku fashion designer Sebastian Matsuda from 6% dokidoki, as well as film premieres, including the live-action movie adaptation of acclaimed Naoki Urasawa’s acclaimed 20th Century Boys.
"The vision for J-Pop Summit always has been to showcase the many vibrant sides of Japanese pop culture to U.S. audiences,” Horibuchi said. “Even when I began publishing manga 30 years ago I knew there were other equally compelling aspects of Japanese culture I wanted to bring over."
Since its launch, J-Pop Summit has evolved into a destination event for Japanese bands, brands, and ideas. "We have strived to also integrate many other facets that highlight the richness and depth of J-Pop culture across many mediums,” Horibuchi said. “We are always inspired to try new things each year. We never want it to be the same thing.”