Monday 15 May 2023

SHIZUOKA 2023 pt.1

Last Saturday we visited Shizuoka for the annual hobby show; the 61st. 
Maybe you've already seen videos covering the show, photo reports and happy people, probably first-timers, who had an "oh-so-great-time" at the show. This is our 12th Shizuoka and it was by far THE WORST so far.
We arrived around 11:00 from Tokyo (one hour by bullet train), took the bus for the obligatory 30min ride and reached "Twin Messe" only to find huge lines circling the convention hall. 
This year's show, the second since the pandemic, was supposed to have a limited number of visitors who had first to apply online. For absolutely no reason, we had to circle the hall three times, under the pouring rain to get to the "gate" where we could get the stickers that were to allow us to move around freely in the show. Standing in line with us, were plenty of visitors that already had stickers (why???), fellow modellers in wheelchairs, families with little children in prams and of course many old-timers.
Nobody cared, and the staff that were just holding signs saying nothing, could not find time to explain what was going on, why we had to stand in-line etc. After an hour, under the rain, we got our stickers and we hang around without anyone checking them out. Actually, after 13:00 we could see many visitors without stickers because there was no security or any other form of crowd control.

As, every single year without exception, the show is held in two big halls, with most of the space taken by company booths and about 1/4th of the whole space given to modeller groups. There were so many people everywhere, packed in tiny corridors between rows of booths, that it was virtually impossible to take a look at anything. I was really looking forward to see Hasegawa's new releases, MrHobby and Gaia paints, but only managed to spend about 5 minutes at the tiny Fine Molds booth. We couldn't see any airbrush or paint companies: I could only take a glimpse of MIG showing some of their paints surrounded by hundreds of people.
To their credit, Hasegawa had a special space dedicated to ICM.

The only new Japanese aviation release we managed to spot, was the Zero in 1/32 by "HJM". 

Back in Tokyo, we were told that Zokei Moura announced the release of a Ki-100 but to be honest we could not find their booth in the sea of people.
If the purpose of the show was to give the companies the chance to exhibit and promote their products, to interact with the visitors/customers, make some sales too, and offer a satisfying experience like the happy faces you see in their poster, then the show, in our opinion was a complete and utter failure. Throngs of people moving in human waves in a frenzy, because of course everybody wants to see everything, laden with huge backpacks, bumping and pushing in narrow spaces is neither pleasant nor safe; especially after a pandemic. Not to mention that the halls are poorly ventilated. We've been there on a hot day, and it was like a furnace. 
In our view, it is very clear that either the show needs to limit the number of visitors or expand the facilities. Five restrooms for thousands of people, and a resting area where you have to climb a huge flight of stairs to get there and then get the escalator to get down (that's right! stairs to get up, escalator to get down - no elevator), extremely limited number of lockers where people could leave their belongings and only a few vending machines for drinks, are definitely not enough for such a huge show. I cannot stress enough how crowded the whole show was and what a stressful and unsatisfying experience was.

So, a HUUUUGE BOOOOOHHHH to the organizers this year.
You've heard perhaps of the famous Japanese efficiency? Not this time. The organizers still think they have to run a show like it was 20-30 years ago. EVERY YEAR, according to their numbers, more and more people visit the show. What have they changed? Nothing. It's not that they didn't have 2-3 years during the pandemic when there was no show. The whole thing shows that they just don't care.
By the way, the photos and videos of happy people covering the show you can find online, are mostly from vendors and professionals who visit the show during the two days before it is open to the public. When everything is fine and dandy and guys with prosthetic legs and small children, don't need to arm and wrestle their way among the multitude, as we witnessed.

NO GOOD Shizuoka 2023! NO GOOD!


Harold K said...

I have been reading this blog for many years. Your comments on shows, museums and such are always fair and even-handed. NEVER have I read such a negative review from you. Obviously, this was not a modeling show but a complete s**t-show.
Imagine how disappointed a foreign visitor must have been!

WK said...

That's a shame the planning was so poorly executed. From what I have seen online I had a different impression of the show, but like you said the footage was most likely from the pre-show. As for the lack of Japanese kits, I've come to get used to Tamiya releasing RC cars and Hasegawa releasing model vending machines, so that's not a surprise to me. Fortunately we have Eduard beating the Japanese at their own game.

Arawasi said...

WK -Take "The Modelling News" coverage of the show for example.

They mention that to get there you can take "A free shuttle bus". EVERY TIME we've been to the Shizuoka show, we ALWAYS pay for the bus. Every visitor does. Either they took a taxi or the bus is free for merchants, journalists and people like that. They obviously haven't been stuck in traffic in the bus, very common in Shizuoka, that's why they say 15 minutes. Enjoy their beautiful professional photos taken when the show was almost empty.

Yes, big kudos to Eduard and other European makers who take risks and release interesting and fun-to-build kits.

Arawasi said...

Harold - Thanks a lot. A first-time visitor will certainly feel overwhelmed and excited to be in such a big place with so many interesting things to see, so perhaps they won't mind the horrible overcrowding. But if you sit and think about it, you'll quickly find that you've spent half of the 6 hours in the show pushing and shoving, trying to get from one booth to the next.
Overcrowding is a very common issue in Japan. Nothing in Japan has been designed to handle the huge crowds. From train stations to any kind of event. Even most supermarkets are extremely cluttered placing products everywhere.
There is a model shop in Akihabara I never go to. The isles can fit only one person moving sideways! I've complained once, I've complained twice, they don't care, I don't go.
One reason for this, is that in Japan most things are run by "oyaji" (elderly, retired men) of a generation when everyone's average height was 1,50m and people were generally smaller. The vast majority of "otaku" visiting Shizuoka is 1,70m with a huge backpack. The organizers see the empty hall, they decide it's big enough, so they just don't care what's happening on the ground with thousands of visitors.
It's a pity because we used to enjoy going to Shizuoka and now we really doubt we want to go through the same ordeal again. I mean, it was great meeting a few friends and seeing the beautiful models but everything else sucked big time!

Harold K said...

"I've complained once, I've complained twice, they don't care, I don't go." LOL

Well of course they don't listen to some big gaijin who comes into their lovely store and then complains that he doesn't fit. ;)

D. Chouinard said...

That is insane!!! I have been in some tight spots at a show, but nothing like what you described. And you are right, the don't care apparently, so blind to the fact that there has to be more space for people. I think that I would avoid this show if visiting, even though it supposed to be a big thing, it just doesn't seem worth the trouble.