A Steampunk culture in Japan... Really?


steam garden japan

The concept of Steampunk is just beginning to be recognized in Japan. Many works have incorporated the Victorian aesthetic, as seen in many mangas such as the anime film Steamboy or Full Metal Alchemist.
"Steam Garden", the first Steampunk event, takes place in January in Harajuku .
Kenny Creation and Luke Chaos, friends based in Tokyo, have been passionate about this subculture for some time, and last year they founded the Steam Garden, a regular event. Their fourth convention, themed "Celtic Fantasy," for which Luke and Kenny rented out the entire Christon Café Shinjuku (a themed restaurant filled with European relics) is a special place that dressed up for the occasion. They filled it with tribal fire dancers, art shows, medieval food, and live music on period instruments.

Each event has a different theme revolving around a past era. Previously, Steam Garden held a Meiji-themed festival - a tribute to when Japan opened its doors to the West and merged Victorian fashion with traditional Japanese kimonos and obis. This time, the theme was Celtic Fantasy: "a blend of industry, fantasy and epic adventure set to a soundtrack of exciting tribal and Celtic music. Braveheart wandered the room, challenging the partygoers to a duel in a Scottish accent. If you got tired of dancing to the bagpipes, you could order food - a plate of meat on skewers, to fit the medieval atmosphere.
One section of the space contained tables selling pocket watches, steampunk accessories, and other brass clockwork instruments.

The party attracts the youth of Tokyo, and each fan has adopted the Steampunk style into something typically Japanese. There is often a "kawaii" mood, such as Gothic lolita dresses with goggles.

Steam Garden is held every two or three months, and people from all over Japan come here to attend, as it is the only regular and organized Steampunk event in the country. If "Celtic Fantasy" is to be believed, this underground scene will continue to grow. As Luke said, "Let's hope the blimp continues to rise!"


steampunk japan

We were able to get a pretty good answer from Luke, who runs Steam Garden. Steampunk is a sort of reinvention of 19th-century science fiction, like a punk-attitude version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We love the classy, dressy 19th-century aesthetic, the sense of adventure, the DIY aspect of crafting and building, and the satirical, playful approach to history."
Thanks to the country's mix of traditional and contemporary culture during the Meiji era, the movement actually seems to work very well in Japan.

Kenny had this to say about Steampunk in Japan. "I think Japanese mottainai (don't waste) culture is a good influence on recycling and creating things out of waste. I really like that part of Steampunk."

Adding to Kenny's comments, Luke explained that some aspects of Japanese Steampunk are still very new. "Aesthetically, Steam Garden really pioneered what we sometimes call the wild east style of Steampunk, a more intense version of the Wa-yo-setyuu style of fusion of east and West, and it seems to inspire a lot of young steampunks to be proud of the Japanese style, rather than copying a Victorian or American look.

Whatever the idea's origin, it seems that Steam Garden has snowballed. It even started with a bit of a bang! When asked about the growth of the festival over the past four years, Kenny told us, "I thought the first one would be a small parlor party. Maybe 40 people. But we had to rent a small nightclub. So we picked a bigger place next time and filled it up again. Each time it got a little bigger.
steam garden steampunk japan
"During DJ and lounge hours, you can enjoy hookah, sit and chat with the best-dressed, classiest and friendliest crowd of any event in Tokyo, and dance to the adventurous neo-retro sounds of our DJ's.

The entertainment, music, and even the booths at each event are carefully selected to match the theme of the episode, whether it's rodeo girls at a Wild Wild Wild West fashion show or Katana samurai playing traditional Japanese music live for Meiji Democracy. The performers are always top-notch, including acrobats from Cirque du Soleil, professional sword fight choreographers, famous Shamisen players and more.

Now, if you're worried about having nothing to wear, Luke assures us that you don't have to wear a steampunk or historical costume. It's not entirely necessary, but he added that "most attendees make a hell of an effort to look awesome," so it might be worth making an effort to at least get something vintage to get into the spirit.

Do you have a Steampunk event or a costume party planned? Do you want to dress up as Steampunk but don't have any ideas? Feel free to browse our article giving you five examples of easy-to-recreate Steampunk outfits.

Don't hesitate to share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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