Did you know that cosplay culture in Japan is very different from here in America? There are many rules for cosplay and if you do your own cosplay routines in Japan without following their rules, you might get in BIG trouble.
For example, one of the most well-known cosplay rules in Japan is, “YOU MUST NOT COSPLAY IN PUBLIC WITHOUT PERMISSION.” This means you cannot get ready in cosplay at home and go outside, shoot outside or even go to conventions in cosplay. Most conventions or events do not even allow you to go in if you come in cosplay or even in cosplay makeup or wig. Each events or locations also have their own rules, for example “you must not show your underwear even if it is a part of your cosplay” or “you must not cosplay from (unofficial) fan art including genderbent characters” and such.
In addition to Japanese people’s typical personalities, going to conventions and making friends are not on their top cosplay priorities. Then what do Japanese cosplayers do? It’s simple. They take cosplay photos.
Cosplay studios are a huge part of cosplay culture in Japan. It’s cost-friendly and all the basic equipment is right there so all you have to do is to bring yourself and your cosplay.
This time I had a chance to visit three different cosplay studios in Japan. I would like to mainly talk about the biggest cosplay studio, Hacostadium Tokyo.
As you see I did bring my suitcase just for one cosplay on that day. It is normal for cosplayers to carry a suitcase for cosplay photoshoot or conventions.
First you make your membership card (bring your ID with you!) and pick a plan for the day. At Hacostadium Tokyo, if you want to stay there all day (10.5 hours) it would be 3,200 ~ 4,800 yen depending on weekday/weekend or reservation/tickets-at-door. If you want to stay only for 5 hours (you can pick either morning or afternoon timeframe) it would be 2,000 ~ 3,200 yen.
After the pay, you can access to the fitting rooms, lockers, shops, cafeterias and studios!
I wanted to take photos of fitting rooms but cameras are not allowed in these areas (probably to prevent photos of people changing). But each fitting room has all the items that you would need for cosplay such as body pins, hair ties, safety pins, q-tips, makeup remover, tissues, band aids, and a hair brush.
Once you finish prep, here comes the best part! Explore all the rooms!
And here’s the shots that we took! We used a Chinese room for my cosplay.
It was so much fun to shoot at cosplay studio! If you want, you can borrow all the props such as swords, instruments, fake food, or camera equipment such as flash, battery, ladders or even DSL cameras itself!!! If you wish, you can ask a staff to help shoot since most staffs are also cosplayers who are familiar with cosplay photoshoots.
I had only one costume on that day so we stayed there for a half day, which cost 2,000 yen. It was still a reasonable price considering you can use the space for 5 hours and borrow most of the items for free.
Due to other male customers, they also asked me to wear a cardigan and tie a scarf on my waist until I get to the specific room that I wanted to shoot at because my costume was kind of exposing my skin. They will let you borrow a cardigan and scarf but again you always have to follow each location’s rules as long as you are using their space. (I didn’t get asked to cover my skin at two other locations.)
Overall it was such a joyful experience that I wish we had something like this in US. Even if you are new to cosplay world, you can always start at cosplay studio because you can borrow anything over there and shoot on your own pace without anyone bothering you.
If you are a cosplayer and have a plan to visit Japan, I definitely recommend you to check out cosplay studio! It might be better to make a reservation online in advance so that you can get in for sure!
2 Chome-2-7 Hamacho, Funabashi-Shi, Chiba-Ken, 273-0012