Nippon2007, the 65th World Science Fiction Convention was held in Yokohama from August 30th-September 3rd. This was the first occasion that the Worldcon was held in Japan and one of the relatively few occasions when it has been held in a country where English is not the primary language.
Yokohama is a wonderful city and due to its historical role as a port it is very cosmopolitan. For example it has a large Chinatown district. I found a small curry shop that served a quick and tasty beef curry when I was in a hurry for lunch. The subway system is clean and runs well. The subway ticket machines have a button which changes the display to English. Not all of the taxi drivers understand English, but if you have a map it is easy to point to your desired destination.
The main function space for the convention was the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center with the Art Show and Dealers Area and other exhibits in the Exhibit Hall across the street. The Convention Center, Exhibit Hall and a shopping area were all connected by a walkway above street level. The subway stop had a direct connection into the shopping mall. The area around the Convention Center was new and had a much different feel than the older parts of Yokohama. The older parts of Yokohama had many narrow streets with small interesting restaurants and the ease of transportation by subway, taxi, or walking allowed both areas to be experienced.
The Japan National SF Convention was held in conjunction with Nippon2007. Any long running convention tends to develop traditions and the Japan National SF Convention and the Worldcon are no exceptions. For the most part there was not a major conflict however there was not total integration in part due to language and culture and in part due to time. There are just not enough hours in the day to do a lot of integration.
Several people commented on the Opening Ceremonies running long due to the translation; it did not seem to be an issue to me. George Takei served as Master of Ceremonies for the Hugo Awards. Some convention panels were in English only, some in Japanese only and others had some level of translation. The dealers room had some books in Japanese and a few in English but was much smaller than would be expected in the USA. The Art Show was also much smaller. I suspect that much of this was due to the problems related to shipping items overseas.
The LFS Prometheus Awards ceremony was held on Friday and Glasshouse and to give a very fine acceptance speech discussing the novel, its themes, and how it came to be written. Attendance was lower than typical and was not a surprise since the overall con attendance was lower than usual. The final count has not been certified but appears to be less than 3,000 attending.was present to accept his Prometheus Award for Best Novel for
Overall Nippon2007 was an interesting experience. The non-Japanese fans that I spoke with appreciated the efforts to make everyone feel welcome and while there were the usual bumps that occur with any large event, I would judge the Nippon2007 as fun and exceeding expectations.
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