This spring marked the 21st anniversary for one of my favorite conventions, Sakura-Con, in Seattle, WA. Over the years the con has built up a loyal fan base that now caps at around 20,000 attendees each year. Putting it up there as one of the largest anime conventions in the PNW. This was a big year for me personally, as it was my 10-year anniversary! Sakura-con was my first convention, and because of that it will always hold a special place in my heart. Every Easter weekend when I return, it feels a lot like coming home.
Sakura-Con is a 3-day convention that goes from Friday-Sunday, however, if you’ve pre-registered for the con, you can pick up your badges on Thursday. Many people also check into their hotels Thursday evening, so they won’t miss any of the convention on Friday. For these reasons, everyone I know has always called Thursday “Day 0” of the con.
For day 0, I woke up bright and early to get picked up at 8am by my friends Michael and Emma (Swan Song Creations). Michael dropped us off before work, hence why we had to go in so early. Emma and I were staying in different hotels, so, we stopped by hers first to drop off her bags, then walked over to mine.
Originally, I was told I wouldn’t be able to check in to my room until late afternoon, so I had planned to leave my bags with the concierge. Luckily, when we arrived, I was able to check in early. It was nice to be able to get my thing settled into my room early, plus my hotel mates, Merci (Technicolornami) and Kagura (Eirehime), wouldn’t have to worry about check in when they arrived from the airport in the afternoon.
Once I was all checked into my room, I still had a few hours to kill before Merci and Kagura would be arriving. So, Emma and I wandered back towards the con center to get some breakfast and our convention badges. When I stopped by the press badge room to grab mine, they unfortunately weren’t ready yet.
Shortly after that, I got a text from Merci that she and Kagura were heading to the hotel from the airport. They arrived at about 12:15PM. Merci and I gave each other a huge hug in the lobby. Despite knowing each other for about 6 years, this was actually our first in person meeting! it was very exciting and emotional. I was also officially introduced to Merci’s friend, and our other hotel mate, Kagura.
Before con, we made plans to go see the cherry blossoms at the University of Washington (UW), both Merci and Kagura had never seen them in person before. Plus, I really wanted to show Merci the Suzzallo library, she’s a huge Harry Potter fan, and that library is basically Hogwarts. We also decided the UW quad full of cherry blossoms would be the perfect place to shoot their Yuuko and Sakura cosplays from xxxHolic/Tsubasa by Clamp. So, after grabbing them some food we headed up to our room for them to get unpacked and into their cosplays before heading to the UW campus.
We arrived at UW around 5:15 P.M. It was so great to see the look of pure shock and delight on Merci and Kagura’s faces when we first got to the quad. Kagura said the campus looked like something straight out of a fanfiction. She compared it to a kawaii anime high school mixed with Harry Potter. She said she felt like she had been transplanted to a different world. Truthfully, it’s a pretty accurate description. Merci was so excited to finally see the campus she looked like she might cry.
When we started to take photos and they got even more excited. I was so humbled by their reactions, they acted like I was a photography wizard, it was so sweet. The cuties. And they did such a wonderful job! They were so patient and held some hard poses like champs while we had to time the photos just right to avoid people walking through our shots.
After the shoot I took them into the Suzzallo library. Once again it was so lovely to see them experience the incredible reading room of the library for the first time. Merci had a look a pure wonder as she looked around and took photos. She definitely wants to come back to shoot a Harry Potter cosplay someday.
We got an Uber straight to the con center after that, so we could get our badges. I was able to pick my badge up quickly since press passes are in a different room. The regular attendee line had over an hour wait, so, I opted to sit at a nearby bench in the registration area while they got their badges. Following that we got dinner at the Cheesecake Factory. After dinner we headed straight to our hotel and watched some TV before heading to bed, wanting to get enough rest for con the following day.
On Friday, I woke up around 10 A.M., and saw that Merci was excitedly unpacking a package she hadn’t been sure would arrive on time. Her prop bow for her Merida cosplay from Disney’s Brave was too big for her luggage so she shipped it to the hotel. Our photo shoot was scheduled for Friday and the prop wouldn’t be arriving until potentially late afternoon that day, we were both relieved that it arrived much earlier than that.
We all were moving a bit slow after having an eventful day zero. I got ready by 11:30. Merci started to get ready around noon and was ready for our shoot by about 2 P.M. We had agreed that morning not to worry about rushing and just hung out talking for a while as we got ready. It was relaxing.
At around 2:15 P.M. we headed to the freeway park to do our Merida shoot. We picked a few different spots with trees and foliage in the middle of the park. The photos turned out beautiful! Merci makes a fantastic Merida, I am so glad I finally saw it in person.
We finished up the shoot a little before 3 P.M., then my friends Liz and Tiffany met us outside. They were dressed as Hanayo from Love Live and the meme Tide Pod chan. We grabbed some photos outside and chatted for 30 or so mins before heading inside. The others eventually left to go wander and I made my way to the plus size lolita panel on the fourth floor.
The Plus Size Lolita Fashion 101 panel was really positive and informative. The panelists, Sara (tinyteatime) and Janelle (kittyheartowl) really did an excellent job of sharing their hard-earned years of experience and research with us and I appreciated it immensely. In addition to discussing what Lolita fashion is, and touching base on some of the substyles (Gothic Lolita, Sweet Lolita, Classic Lolita, etc), they explained why it can be hard to get into Lolita fashion when you’re plus size. The reasons being that Lolita fashion comes from Eastern Asia, where sizes are typically smaller. Additionally, many Lolita brands are small businesses and it is cheaper to make what is considered standard or “straight” sizes. Lastly, there is a lot more shape variation in plus size bodies. They also had some helpful visuals about understanding the shape of your body, and what types of Lolita styles and silhouettes would best suite each body shape. Lastly, they also recommended where to shop for plus size Lolita items. I appreciated that they didn’t sugar coat how difficult it can be to find plus size clothing for this fashion, nor did they make it feel impossible to join the community. There are a lot more resources for plus size people than there were even just a few years ago, which really gives me hope because I’ve always wanted to try out Lolita fashion!
After that, I went to get some food and ended up sitting by the Juicy café on the second floor with my friends Jay and Brynnan. I stayed with them till 6:30 P.M., then I went to go catch the last half hour of the masquerade ball.
I always love the masquerade ball, it is by far one of my favorite events to attend at Sakura-Con each year. Between the beautiful outfits, unique masks, and dazzling lights, there are many wonderful photo opportunities. I like to wander into the middle of the dance floor and snap photo as everyone dances around me. This year the theme for the ball was a Victorian tea party, and the music and decorations reflected the theme nicely!
Following the ball, I met back up with Jay and Brynnan in the lobby on the 4th floor. This is where a lot of photographers and cosplayers end up gathering during down time to take photos and hang out. Over the years it has been dubbed the “brotographer” or “brotog” corner.
While I was there taking pictures, Merci and Kagura ended up meeting me to chat for a bit before going to get crepes downstairs. Merci thoughtfully brought me a crepe then headed back downstairs to sit with Kagura who was resting while she ate. I was supposed to join them to eat but ended up losing track of time taking photos. My hotel mates got tired and ended up heading back to the hotel by around 9 P.M.
I ended up wandering down to the first floor lobby for the virgin killer sweater meet up. It cracks me up that is old meme is still going strong here at Sakura-Con. The meet up is always fun, it’s interesting to see what cosplays people will put together based around the sweaters. There’s always a pretty good turn out too.
Once the VKS party started winding down I met up with Liz and headed to Late Night Cosplay Chess. Many of my friends either organize or participate in cosplay chess every year. I make it a point to go to both late night and main game chess each year to support them. I think late night chess is sometimes just a tad more fun than main game because they can get away with a bit more adult humor since it’s an 18+ panel. The highlights of late night this year for me were the Weasley twins ripping off their tear away pants to reveal gold booty shorts. They were of course wearing these in celebration of their birthday. There were some very well-choregraphed fight scenes this year as well. It was definitely another funny and all around entertaining year for late night chess!
After cosplay chess I met up with Beki (Epona Tenjou Productions), who had been a chess piece. We headed to the brotog corner to just chat and catch up. We ended up staying there till about 3 A.M. before we both realized we’d better head back to our hotels to get some sleep if we wanted to function for day 2 of con. I definitely lost out on some valuable sleep, but it was worth it to catch up with a great friend.
Days 2 and 3 of Sakura-Con write up will either be added to this post or made into a new post very soon. For now please enjoy some of the photos from those days!
All photos, unless otherwise stated, were taken and provided by Fearless Photoworks.