Japan & Me

Victoria Kyriakopoulos

Victoria Kyriakopoulos
Age: 26
Occupation: Festival Coordinator of Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival

What did you do when you went to Japan?

I've been to Japan twice - once at the end of 2011 and then again at the beginning of 2014. I've been to Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, Hiroshima, and Miyajima. The second time I went with a friend and we both had similar interests, so a lot of what we did focused around the pop culture and food.

Can you tell us about a place you like in Japan?

I love Shibuya - Shibuya 109 is a melting pot of subcultures. There are so many different people and different styles, and when they combine it all works.

What interests you about Japan?

I've always had an interest in Japan. It started with Hello Kitty, then I started researching and I found that there was a Hello Kitty Cafe in Japan. I wondered what else was in Japan, and from there my interest branched out to the fashion and music, and I decided to go to Japan to see it and experience it for myself. I've also been to a few J-pop concerts in Australia. I bought pre-sale tickets to Kyary Pamyu Pamyu when she came to Sydney in 2014. The concert sold out, so they had to move to a bigger venue, which was surprising because I didn't think she was that well known, or that J-pop was that popular here. The crowd were mostly Australians who knew her music, and they dressed up in costumes even though it was 5 degrees in the middle of winter.

Can you tell us about your involvement with Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival?

I received an email from the Global Experience Coordinator at UniSA about the Kodomo no Hi subcommittee, so I went along. I enjoyed it and I've been doing it ever since. This year the festival is at Thebarton Community Centre. I've been really pushing the social media posts to get new stallholders, performers and volunteers, so there are a lot of new things in the festival this year. We still have the more traditional elements like origami, kimono wearing and train simulation, but we are also featuring the pop culture side as well. Retrospekt are bringing some game consoles, there will be a Japanese car display on the oval, and there will also be a maid cafe, which will add a completely new dimension of Japanese culture to the festival.

Can you tell us something memorable about your time in Japan?

I went to a maid cafe in Akihabara. The maids are dressed up, and you can pay a bit extra if you want to play games or take a photo with them. I'm pretty sure they let you win the games! I expected to see only high school boys there, but the customers were actually all women, and there were a lot of foreign women as well. Usually I just stay in hotels, but on my second visit we booked an Airbnb in Tokyo for a week, and it was actually someone's home. What really stood out to me was how compact it was - there was no room to move, but I guess that's how they live. It really gave me a taste of city life.

How do you imagine your future in relation to Japan?

I definitely want to go back for a return visit. There is so much to see and do and there are so many places I haven't been to yet - I don't think any number of visits would cover it. I also want to go back to studying Japanese to improve my language skills.

How is life in Adelaide different to life in Japan?

I work in customer service, so I notice the attention to detail. For example, when you go shopping all the baskets have the handles put together. When you try on clothes they actually give you a little sheet to put over your head, so that you don't get makeup on your clothing. Little things like that mean a lot. -- Victoria is the Festival Coordinator of Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival, which will be held on Sunday 7th May 11am-4pm at Thebarton Community Centre.