UBC Anime Club's Pop-Up Hanami celebrated the beginning of spring with a cosplay café

On March 18, cosplayers, J-pop fans and a wide array of anime enthusiasts transformed the Nest's Great Hall into a celebration of Japanese culture. Enter UBC Anime Club’s Pop-Up Hanami: one of the biggest events of the year by one of the biggest clubs on campus.

Pop-Up Hanami marked not only the largest event in club history, with approximately 1100 attendees, but also the introduction of the Sakura Cosplay Café, where waiters in costume served baked goods and confections, including Kuma-san Pan, Katakuri Donut and Sailor Moonrise, from bakeries including Kanadell Japanese Bakery, Uncle Tetsu’s Japanese Cheesecake and Hazukido.

Creative Director Jenny Zeng noted that, when the event was announced at FanExpo 2023, “what lit up most people’s eyes was definitely the Sakura Cosplay Café.” She credits this to the fact that, despite the sheer number of events in the local scene in Vancouver, “none of them have a cosplay café.”

Cosplay stitches fiction into the real world through costumes and props. Club Secretary Spencer Terry, who handles the serving team at the café, added that “a lot of people would be excited to get served by their favorite characters.”

Performances also rocked the stage at the centre of the Great Hall. Idol groups, DJs and homegrown talent like UAM and UBC Acapella performed until the conclusion of the event.

There was also an art station with haikus, origami and a bulletin board to showcase the final products.

The event also featured the traditional Japanese game menko and a modified version of the classic kingyo sukui (goldfish scooping) called sakura sukui (flower scooping). Attendees also completed quests in the event-wide scavenger hunt and racked up raffle tickets to win amazing prizes from Genshin Van, Imperial Hobbies and Zerobae.

Pop-Up Hanami was designed to be open to everyone, even those withour prior knowledge of Japanese culture. In the words of Events Coordinator Naomi Loy, “A great dance group on stage is a great dance group on stage no matter what they’re dancing to. Same for good music. And our café is just delicious food served by people who look really cool.”

UBC Anime Club hosts weekly events including artist meetups, workshops and karaoke nights. VP Internal Afiq Aqlan called the club “a really good opportunity for anyone who watches anime or is part of an anime-adjacent community.”

Pop Up Hanami was a celebration of interests: providing a safe and fun space where fans, artists and gamers could share what they love.