This year marked a landmark occasion for online Japanese streaming website ‘Nico Nico Douga,’ as it celebrated it’s 10 year anniversary. As such, it comes as no surprise that the website would go all in on it’s yearly ‘Nico Nico Chokaigi’ festival — an event that aims to bridge both internet culture and reality into one giant two-day fiesta. The cultural hub operates in a very similar fashion to it’s Western counterpart, YouTube, in it’s ability to spawn a wide variety of groundbreaking viral content. Unlike YouTube however, whose largest event, VidCon, pulls in some 26,000 fans, the yearly Nico Nico Chokaigi brings in over 150,000 physically present attendees, and almost six million digital attendees.
It’s a free-for-all madhouse of internet culture, with prevalent web humor being the selling-point of it all. Chances are that if you’re not surrounded by muscle men, you’re most definitely wading through an endless sea of Touhou cosplayers. All the while, headline events such as the vocaloid dance party call on some of the platform’s most creative talents to perform in front of thousands, whilst millions of fans tune in online. It’s an absolute frenzy, and truly something that couldn’t be experienced anywhere else.
For the 10th anniversary festival, we saw major companies such as Nintendo join in on the madness, offering attendees early access to titles such as ‘Arms’ for the Nintendo Switch. Enormous cosplay shows had starry-eyed attendees running for the stage in the hopes of having their hard work recognized. Hatsune Miku even gave her own Kabuki performance alongside acclaimed Japanese performer Nakamura Shidou, ushering in a unique spin on a century old stage show. The program, which was titled ‘Kuruwa Kotoba Awase Kagami’, portrayed the love story between both Shidou and Miku. I mean, seriously, it doesn’t get much more ‘internet’ than that.
The yearly event which is held in the Chiba prefecture of Japan — roughly 30 minutes from Tokyo — continues to grow as a staple part of Japanese net culture year by year. Taken straight from the official website, the event page describes itself by stating “Chokaigi is the melting pot of Japan’s internet culture, where people of all ages can get together in real life and enjoy face-to-face communication.” By breaking down the barriers between ‘internet’ and ‘real life’ cultures, Nico Nico Chokaigi offers it’s whole as a social event, rather than a more traditional event focused on promotion, and I think that’s why it performs so well on a global scale.
If you’re interested in attending the 2018 festival, or are even just digging for further information on the event, you can check out the official English website, here.