As usual, the visitors were just as wild, flamboyant and colorful as the 1,600 artists at Design Festa #41, the international art event held at the huge convention center Big Sight in Tokyo bayside.
There were the usual hordes of cosplay fans, romantic pirates, wounded goths, Victorian dolls, steampunks, lizard-men and plush-toy suits. The sinister trend for Venetian beaked masks continued, a few Georgian ladies out of a Jane Austen novel promenaded the halls, and there seemed to be a lot more people wearing cardboard-box heads.
We even spotted a new trend as a couple of shy girls wore paper bags on their heads, and another a single giant eye like a Cyclops. Fortunately they were friendly folk, and gave us a cheery wave when we asked for a photo opportunity.
Our favorite artists this time included Koubou Atara, a wood sculptor from Shizuoka who carves and paints fairytale houses that are mounted on giant brontosauri and hippopotami. In a similar vein but a different medium, cobbler Machu Kutsu crafted colorful leather shoes illustrated with characters from fairytales and children's books as well as sandals decorated with leather origami cranes.
Steampunk fans were well served by artists offering an array of items from brass jewelry through figures and hats to porcelain baths. Jewelry designer Gead crafted rings, brooches and necklaces with tiny clockwork cogs and wheels, real brass screws, and even a miniature mechanical fan that delivered a tiny gust of wind. Chika Toys imagined a whole world of rusted industrial waste transformed into cute robots and one-eyed mutant figures.
When it came to hats, the faithful were spoilt for choice with a selection of laced and winged leather top hats or chainmail bowlers and metal-rimmed trilbies from MetaMetaHat. The most surprising items were the fantastical porcelain tubs by Jingengo Pottery Bridge, each with giant frog figureheads in steampunk leather and brass helmets.
The paper robots from MPM were impressive as they marched across the table, but these mechanical marvels came in kit form and, as creator Yoshihiro Hyodo confessed, took at least fifty or sixty hours to assemble for a novice.
The wooden menagerie from Moscow Kogei at least came fully assembled, and the cute block animals could be posed in a variety of ways thanks to their fully articulated design. Most disappointingly, the strange line of antler-headed figures on accessory designer Shimizu Manami's stand was not for sale.
By late Sunday, every partition wall in the entire convention center was covered in dynamic paintings, and a few exhausted artists sagged at the base of their creations. Even the box heads had removed their cardboard helmets and returned to their ordinary lives. Bring on the next Design Festa!
Steampunk bathtubs, chain-mail hats and boxhead fashions at Design Festa