There’s more than just eating! Cosplayers representing 30 countries/regions tried making Soba, an experience only found in Japan

The “World Cosplay Summit 2016” was held in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture Japan in early August 2016. Cosplayers representing 30 countries/regions from around the world such as China, Taiwan, the United States, Russia, France, and Mexico gathered in Japan to take part in this event. The exciting competition spanned 9 days, and the staff of ANA EXPERIENCE JAPAN also participated as sponsors of the event. Here we would like to report scenes from the competition and moments after the competition when the competing cosplayers experienced making “Soba”, traditional Japanese noodles.

About WCS

The “World Cosplay Summit” started in 2003 in Nagoya, Japan. Held in this mecca of “MANGA”, the event is an international cosplay competition for the purpose of creating a new form of international exchange by gathering cosplayers from around the world!

World Cosplay Summit

This year’s champions was the duo RianCYD and Frea Mai, representing Indonesia. The characters they portrayed were from Trinity Blood, and they successfully became world cosplay champions with their impressive performance and outstandingly detailed outfits. The photo shows the pair receiving an additional prize of airline tickets. They are scheduled to return to next year’s World Cosplay Summit as judges.
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After the competition, the cosplayers were still eager to enjoy their stay in Japan so they visited “Soba Kobo Sagami”, a Soba noodle-making workshop in the outskirts of Nagoya allowing visitors to experience making authentic Soba noodles.

As they arrived at “Soba Kobo Sagami”, Japanese staff dressed in ninja outfits (cosplay?) greeted everyone, and after entering the workshop, Mr. Kamata, the President of the Sagami Chain who runs this facility, delivered a welcome speech. He spoke proficiently in English and wished for the cosplayers to enjoy an unforgettable and unique experience with Soba making.

The workshop regularly serves soba to visitors and so the staff must comply with the appropriate handwashing procedures to ensure the safety of visitors who come to enjoy their Soba noodles. This applies to all Soba making workshop courses as well. The first step for making great noodles was for everyone to learn the appropriate hand washing procedure. The cosplayers learned of the importance of keeping their hands clean as they lined up, and they were shown how to wash their hands appropriately.

Once they finished washing their hands, everyone wore a hat and apron to get ready for some Soba making. Here is a group photo showing everyone’s excitement.

With preparations set, the Soba making workshop began. Everyone first learned the process and some tips by watching a tutorial video. Usually the process starts from mixing flour with water to make the dough, however this time everyone started with the dough already prepared. Kneading, stretching, spreading, and cutting the dough seemed simple enough in the video, however in reality things were not as easy as they seemed. The cosplayers closely watched the video to try and make delicious Soba noodles.

First they began with spreading the dough. The cosplayers tried to do as was shown in the video, but they struggled to spread it well.

However the experienced staff dressed as ninjas provided helpful assistance at each table, and everyone followed their instructions.

The next step was to turn the dough and spread it into a large circle using a stick. First it must be made into a clean circle, then it must be stretched diagonally in two directions and shaped into a square. It is important to keep the strength equal when spreading to create a clean circle.

President Kamata closely observed the cosplayers as they worked on each step of the Soba making and

provided advice when they were in need of help, such as adjusting directions to stretch and spread the dough. The cosplayers seemed relaxed and enjoyed the Soba making since President Kamata was consistently friendly and communicated with them in English.

Now it was time for cutting the stretched dough. This was done by using a large rectangular knife for cutting the dough so that it could be pushed forward. In the video it didn’t look too difficult, but the actual implementation was harder than it seemed.

The cosplayers tried to cut the dough rhythmically and smoothly as was shown in the tutorial, but the knives were quite heavy. They were told not to use too much strength and to use the weight of the knife to push the noodles forward. The key was to tilt the knife slightly inward and to cut while shifting the board so that it held down the dough.

At first everyone was unable to maintain a rhythm when cutting the Soba, and so their sizes varied. As they continued though, the cosplayers began to display the skills they used to create their own crafty outfits, and eventually they got the hang of rhythmically cutting well-sized Soba noodles.

And finally their Soba was complete! Everyone enjoyed their first ever Soba noodle making workshop and took photos with their Soba.

Everyone ate lunch on the 1st floor after the course, and the menu was of course the Soba they had just made. The cosplayers were delighted to be able to experience making and eating their own Soba.
“I’ve tried many things during my visit to Japan, but Soba making was really fun!” Everyone was extremely satisfied.

At each table every cosplayer took photos in front of their Soba. Jill and Lu (left photo) representing Russia said, “It was such a unique experience. I’ll never forget it.” Natalie (right photo) representing Malaysia said excitedly, “I had so much fun! It was awesome!”

President Kamata and PAULO representing Brazil. President Kamata: “Did you like the Soba?” PAULO: “Yeah it was great! I’ve never eaten such good Soba.” A shot of the two who became akin to master and apprentice through Soba making. Their shared of experiences is also a form of intercultural exchange.

After eating Soba, President Kamata handed a certificate of Soba making to each individual cosplayer. The certificate states that each of the participants worked hard to learn the skills of Soba making. Without a doubt this certificate and the experience of Soba making will be a memory they can share with the people of their home country.

And so this was the experience enjoyed by the cosplayers. Apart from Soba making, there are plenty of other activities in Japan such as wearing samurai outfits (samurai cosplay) in Kyoto, drift ice diving in Hokkaido, and touring around hot springs in Kyushu. We highly recommend visiting various regions if you’re looking for something different then the unique experiences that can only be found in the cities of Tokyo, Osaka, or Fukuoka.

Samurai experience in Kyoto

Drift ice diving in Hokkaido

Hot spring touring in Kyushu

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