What is anime?
Anime is another word for Japanese Animation and is represented by all genres. Japanese people use the word to refer to all animation. Some say it comes from the French word for "animation". In the United States, "anime" refers specifically to Japanese animation, and very rarely, to other animation of the Japanese style.
Anime is a medium that has its roots in the 1960's when the Japanese began making television versions of their comics (manga). Many shows contain elements of science fiction, fantasy, modern drama, soap operas, action shows, kid's shows, aspects of Japanese culture and even R-rated material.
There are literally hundreds of different types of anime movies and series available. Many people will have different ideas of what anime "really is", based on the variety of genres it covers.
What is an anime convention? How do I attend Sakura-Con?
An anime convention is a two to three day gathering of people who are interested in Japanese animation-and in the case of Sakura-Con in broader Japanese media and culture. These gatherings usually take place at a hotel, or other large venue such as a convention center or a college.
There are usually panels which are excellent for learning about many aspects of anime and Japanese Culture; events such as the dance, karaoke and cosplay/masquerade; the Exhibitor's Hall where you can find anime-related merchandise from both the United States and Japan; the RPG (Role Playing Games), Console and PC LAN gaming rooms; numerous anime theaters which show anime 24 hours a day for the duration of the con.
You can also see the numerous costumers-80% of attendees "cosplay" for one day or more-and make new friends. An anime convention can be a life changing experience to some people.
Sakura-Con is a member only event, which means to attend you must purchase a membership. Details are in our registration page and our member policies.
How to attend a convention without spending a fortune.
"Hmmm... there's the membership which costs $60, then there's $150 per night for a hotel room, not to mention all the money I'll need for food and then spending money. That's a lot of money, how can I afford all this?"
The answer is actually simple - very few people attend conventions alone, and they often pre-register for the convention for less than the at-con price. If two people share a room, the cost is reduced to $75 per night, if four people share a room, its $38 per night. People also bring easy to make instant food with them (such as ramen, soup and peanut butter/jelly sandwiches as well as juice/pop/water) instead of eating at a restaurant for 3 days.
Another helpful hint is to save a set amount of money (such as $20) each month towards attending Sakura-Con. If you start early on, you'll have plenty of money at the con.
What should I bring with me?
Just like any weekend trip, going to an anime convention requires some pre planning on your part. You'll need to start off with a change of clothes for every day you'll be at the con as well as an extra change (It's always wise to bring an extra change of clothes, you never know when you'll spill food or something and need clean clothes to change into).
Be sure to bring the other essentials you would normally take with you on a weekend trip (i.e., toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo, etc.). Hotels do provide soap and shampoo, but you may appreciate having a larger size.
If you're sharing a room with other people, it's always a good idea to bring an extra pillow, blanket and even a towel. If you know there's a chance you may be sleeping on the floor, a sleeping bag wouldn't hurt either.
Now that your suitcase is packed and ready to go, you may want to think about bringing some nonperishable food with you. Ramen, oatmeal, soups, and pastas are all available in instant form. Fruits, vegetables, Peanut Butter and Jelly, bread, and baked goods are also good choices.
Hotels usually have coffee pots, for making hot water, in the room (and if they don't, they usually provide them upon request if you call the front desk). It's always recommended to buy pop/water/juice beforehand and bring it with you-the mark up on these items is high anywhere you go outside of the grocery store.
Check in advance to see if your room will have a refrigerator. Many hotels will provide one for a small fee ($5.00) if one isn't already in the room. This will widen your food options. Or, bring a small cooler and take advantage of the ice machines available in most hotels. Finally, some hotels even have microwaves and combined with a refrigerator-your need to eat out at all can be eliminated if you so desire.
No matter how much stuff you plan on bringing with you, be sure to leave some room in your bag/car for stuff you may buy at the con. Be sure to also save some money in case you go out to eat with friends and for the trip home.
I'm bringing a costume. Is there anything else I need to take?
If you're like many other con-goers, you have a costume you're probably going to need some sewing and repair items in the event you lose a button or tear a skirt. Hotels generally supply a small sewing kit-if one isn't available at in your room you can request one of the front desk. Some common items you should bring yourself, include: scissors, safety pins of assorted sizes, super glue, duct tape and a small sewing kit of your own-in case the hotel is out.
Before you leave, visit Mapquest and get directions to the convention hotel from where you live. If you can, print them out with the maps. If you are traveling in a multiple-car group, make one copy for each car. Also, be sure to make a list of everyone who has cell phones *and which* car they will be in. This will make communicating much easier.
If your group consists of more than one car, make sure everyone can recognize each others cars. Traffic on the freeways can get pretty hectic and chances are your group may be separated. It's also a good idea to plan for several places where everyone can stop just in case a car falls behind. Be sure to keep track of the car in front of you and behind you if you are raveling as a group of cars.
By Plane or by Bus...
Most hotels have shuttle service to SeaTac Airport, please call the hotel you will be staying at to make sure they indeed have this service. Also, please visit our travel page for more information on traveling by bus, plane or train.
Downtown Seattle has limited parking options. So far, we have been unsuccessful in securing con affiliated parking-there isn't a benefit to the parking companies to do so as they are filled to capacity.
Hotels don't always include parking in the cost of the room. Be sure to check with your hotel directly about parking.
Some find it's a better deal to park at the Convention Center parking garage-or in other adjacent lots. Be sure to check on the prices at the Convention Center lot vs. the hotel or other local options.
Dealing with the hotel.
Staying in the con's main hotels are always a good idea - it's usually cheaper and more convenient as it's close to everything! You might wish to reserve your room as early as you can, often times the main hotel fills up quickly. Also, most hotels require a credit card to hold a room. There is no charge to reserve a hotel room, and you can usually cancel as little as 24 hours before your scheduled stay with no penalty.
When you check in, ask for keys for everyone in your group, up to 4 (the maximum number of people allowed to a room).
Most rooms have alarm clocks in them, if not, you can also call the front desk for a wake up call. This is good if you're planning on attending morning events. You can also call the front desk for things such as extra towels, soap, shampoo, etc. Most rooms also have a coffee pot which is good for making hot water if you're planning on bringing instant food to eat.
Usually it's customary (but not required) to tip your maid if you're requesting them to bring you lots of stuff (i.e., towels, blankets, etc.) or if you're messy in your room. These people clean up after you in your hotel room, and sometimes tipping them a dollar or two in appreciation won't hurt a bit. This can be done by leaving a dollar or two on the pillow before you check out or each morning.
"Umm...what's a concierge?"
This is a valuable resource found in all hotels. Essentially, the concierge is an information desk of sorts for the hotel. They can tell you where to get cheap food, where the closest ATM is, how to get to the nearest supermarket, bus/taxi info, and so on. Please be courteous when dealing with the hotel staff (and con staff for that matter). This will ensure that we can hold the con there again next year. If you want to make a rough plan of where things are, you can also check out our Local Area Guide with restaurant, gas station, & ATM info before you head off to Sakura-Con.
What to do at the convention itself.
There is so much to do at Sakura-Con that it may seem a bit overwhelming at times. Video theaters are always good, but there is so much going on throughout the con, and some things that may be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see/do.
When you pick up your badge (and/or register at this time. People like to pre-register before the con to avoid the slow line and save money), you'll receive a program (or con) book, and a pocket guide (schedule book) of videos and events. You can also see our schedule online right here.
Take some time to look over the schedules and conbook and highlight the things you would like to see/do so you won't miss them later on. Some people even like to plan out their entire weekend at this point.
Descriptions of all of the videos, panels, and events can be found in the con book, so be sure to look for the info on something you are unsure of. Taking a little time to plan ahead will save you more time later on, and you'll miss less stuff.
Of course, your plans may change throughout the weekend depending on if you find someone who has similar interests as you, or if something piques your interest as well. Remember that last minute schedule changes can and will happen, please check the most up to date schedules at the con - these are found at the info desk.
As for specific events, the Cosplay/Masquerade is often considered the highlight of the convention. It is held on Saturday and is the largest attended event at the convention. The Anime Music Video/Original Animation contest is a close second. Another popular event is Opening Ceremonies as well as the Karaoke contest, Dance, and Closing Ceremonies.
Our Guests of Honor also have panels where you can ask them questions and learn about what they do. Many of them also have one or two autograph sessions. It's recommended that you bring something related to the guest for them to sign, but if you don't have anything, their page in the con book will do nicely.
What time does the convention open/close? and what time is <insert show title here> playing/available?
Please check our Programming Schedule on our web page or in the Program/con book for answers to all these questions. If it in doubt at the convention, please check in with infobooth for assistance.
If I can only come for one day, which day should I come?
Ideally, its best to go for the entire weekend, and if you pre-register a full membership is the best deal (usually less line wait too) but if you can only make it for one day, then Saturday is the day of choice. Events run the longest, and the Masquerade/Cosplay is on Saturday. However, Friday is the start of the convention as well as Karaoke and features a fresh Exhibitor's Hall as well.
What are your policies concerning minors?
Please visit the section of our website regarding Minor Policies for a detailed explanation. Please take a minute to read over this information.