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!