Bar’am, Israel © Stewart Weir 2010

Cosplay, is the contraption of the words “costume” and “play”  and is the act of dressing up as a character from animes, comics, videogames, manga, movies, books, and even Visual-Kei rock bands in Japan. People who take part in cosplay are known as “cosplayers” or in Japan simply reyazu for “players.”   The term “cosplay” was coined by Nov Takahashi in 1984, while attending a sci-fi convention in Los Angeles. He was so impressed by the costume masquerade that he wrote about it in Japanese sci-fi magazines. Word spread quickly through Japan of this new performance art. And the rest is history.

Cosplayers meet outdoors on weekends to pose for pictures, and check out each others elaborate creations. During large scale gatherings at cosplay venues they participate in masquerades, skits and contests just like their North American counterparts. Smaller gatherings are held in meidokissa (maid-coffeehouses), where the waitresses will dress in anime outfits. The Harajuku district in Tokyo, Japan is especially famous for its cosplay scene.  As more people begin to take notice of cosplay magazines like Japan’s Cosmode and Dengeki Layers, USA’s Anicoz and Mexico’s Cosplaymix, it seems the once underground culture of costume play is finally making its way into the mainstream.