With rules prohibiting cosplayers from arriving or leaving in cosplay to avoid causing trouble with the “normies,” most Japanese cosplay events are actually stricter than overseas events—but the same cannot be said of the World Cosplay Summit (WCS). During this time of year, cosplayers can be spotted taking public transport and wandering around town in the unassuming city of Nagoya, as it hosts this annual international cosplay event.
WCS has come a long way since its humble beginnings in 2003, when it was a small event by local broadcaster TV Aichi. Now, it has grown much larger in scale, and is organized with the support of the Japanese government and several corporate sponsors. In 2014, the event even boasted of an attendance of around 200,000 over a single weekend, and it just keeps growing each year.
So what exactly is the World Cosplay Summit like, and how do you join in on the fun? Read on…
2018’s World Cosplay Summit takes place from July 28-August 5 across different venues, but the main center of activity is the Oasis 21 complex (access: Sakae or Sakaemachi Station) near Nagoya TV Tower, and the major dates are the last weekend: August 4-5. You can think of all other events occurring before that weekend as pre-events.
As the event name implies, the event is all about cosplay, but to be specific, here are some things to do or check out at WCS. Some are free, while others have admission fees.
1. Cheer on your country’s representatives.
WCS’ highlight is the World Cosplay Championship finals. If you’ve been wondering what makes WCS an international cosplay event, this is the answer. Think of it as a tournament for cosplayers. Participating countries and regions — 36 as of 2018 — hold preliminaries, which involve pairs of cosplayers putting on a short performance. Each country’s winning team is sent as an official representative to the WCS finals. (Japan has its own team as well.) The finals are a dazzling affair, with the performance level as high as it can be.
If your country/region isn’t a WCS participant, we suppose you could just cheer on whichever team you like!
Venue: Dolphins Arena / Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium (access: Shiyakusho Station)
- World Cosplay Championship: August 5, 4:00 pm onwards (doors open 3:00 pm) – ¥2,000
Venue: B1/F, Oasis 21 special stage (access: Sakae or Sakaemachi Station)
- Special stage events – details TBA as of this writing: August 4-5
- Championship live viewing and special talk show (for those who couldn’t get a ticket to the real thing): August 5, 4:00 pm onwards (doors open 3:00 pm) – ¥2,950
No tickets will be sold at the door.
2. Have a cosplay shoot at a fancy venue.
Strike your best poses, bring your best costumes, and try to recreate the feel of the source material by joining one of WCS’s photo shoots at venues that, ordinarily, are not open for cosplay photo shoots. This year, there are three to choose from, although one may be out of a cheapo’s budget:
- Laguna Cosplay Festival (admission: ¥3,200 for foreigners) a.k.a. Lagu-Cos, an overnight affair that includes not only photo shooting opportunities, but also the WCS opening ceremony, fireworks, and a dance party, among others. It will be held from 10:00 am on July 28 to 6:00 am on July 29 at Laguna Ten Bosch (access: 15-minute ride from Gamagori Station; free shuttle bus schedule here), Aichi Prefecture’s premier resort and theme park.
- Meiji-mura Cosplay on August 1 at Museum Meiji-mura (access: Meiji-mura Seimon-mae bus stop – 20-min. bus ride from Inuyama Station), an open-air museum featuring Meiji-era architecture. Time and admission rates are TBA as of this update.
- A photo session and party at a wedding hall (admission: [price amount = “8000”] on August 1 (6:00 pm-8:30 pm) at Bleu Leman Nagoya (access: Nagoya Station). This is a chance to mingle with current and former WCS representatives. Dinner includes a drink bar and a dessert bar.
For these shoots, arriving and leaving the venue in cosplay is highly discouraged; cosplayers should get changed in dressing rooms provided at the venues. Also, keep in mind that there aren’t any staff photographers, so invite a photographer friend to join you if you want to get some good shots.
3. Join a cosplay parade.
Feel like you’re strutting down a runway by joining the Underground Cosplay Parade at the Central Park underground shopping area (access: Sakae or Sakaemachi Station) on August 3 (time for 2018 TBA; but it usually starts at 7:00 pm) — a prelude to WCS — or the Osu Cosplay Parade (access: Osu Kannon or Kamimaezu Station), which goes through the bustling Osu shopping arcade, on August 5 (11:00 am onward).
4. Just cosplay to your heart’s content!
If you can’t join the photo shoots and aren’t up to joining the cosplay parades, you can always just cosplay at the Oasis 21 area on Aug. 4-5. Also, on Aug. 5, shortly before and after the Osu Cosplay Parade, cosplayers can be spotted hanging around the Osu shopping arcade—in other words, it’s fine to hang around the Osu area in cosplay without joining the parade.
As of 2018, rules on WCS’s website state that if you want to cosplay at the event, you must buy a ticket. You can get changed elsewhere, like at your place of accommodation – however, the organizers ask cosplayers to be considerate and not change in public restrooms – but you must still buy a ticket for ¥1,500 per day to participate.
You can also get changed at designated dressing rooms (page in Japanese) for ¥1,500–¥2,400 per day – the dressing room ticket should suffice; you don’t need to buy an additional ticket to join in the fun. There are even a limited number of premium dressing room tickets for ¥4,000 per day, which give ticket holders priority entry, as well as access to an exclusive rest area.
Also, photographers can – but are not required to – get a 3-day pass for ¥3,000, which includes original merchandise and access to the aforementioned rest area. Note, though, that this is not a media pass, so it doesn’t mean that ticket holders will be given priority or be allowed to take photos from an exclusive vantage point. The premium pass (¥6,500), however, entitles ticket holders to a 16gb Toshiba FlashAir wireless SD card and a photo session with the finalists of the Azur Lane cosplay contest, one of WCS’s side events.
So you want to enjoy World Cosplay Summit
Cool! Whether you want to cosplay, take photos, or just take in the atmosphere, the one thing to keep in mind to ensure that everyone has a good time is to behave. After all, WCS is already known to have more lenient rules than average Japanese cosplay events, which typically forbid cosplayers from arriving and leaving in cosplay, so it wouldn’t be a good idea to abuse their leniency.
For cosplayers, that means not causing a ruckus, entering private property, wearing excessively gory or revealing costumes, inconsiderately swinging props about, and bringing actual weapons, among others. For photographers and spectators, that means not harassing cosplayers, asking permission for photos, and not taking indecent photos.
In general, whether you’re attending WCS as a cosplayer, photographer, or just a spectator, the important thing to remember is that cosplay is not consent—that is, the fact that someone’s wearing a costume is no excuse to harass him/her. Likewise, being in a costume is not an excuse to go wild.
And another quick note, WCS takes place during summer, and it gets quite humid in Nagoya, so stay hydrated! While there are cosplayers who manage to survive the heat in layers and layers of clothing, we recommend dressing comfortably.
And if you want to make the most of your trip to Nagoya…
Just some of Nagoya’s attractions are Nagoya Castle (access: Shiyakusho Station), the Aichi Prefectural Museum of Art (access: Sakae or Sakaemachi Station), the Toyota Automobile Museum (access: Geidai-dori Station), Legoland (access: Kinjofuto Station), and Expo Memorial Park (access: Aichikyuhaku Kinen Koen Station), the site of the 2005 World’s Fair. Part of the spacious park, also known as Moricoro Park, will be the grounds for a Studio Ghibli theme park set to open in the 2020s. But even now, it has a treat for Ghibli aficionados—on park grounds, you can visit a recreation of Satsuki and Mei’s house from My Neighbor Totoro for ¥510.