Ohayocon will bring Japanese culture and anime to Columbus

Ohayocon, a convention on Japanese culture and anime, will take place at the Hyatt Regency Columbus from February 10 to 13 | Credit: Courtesy of Katie May

Calling all anime lovers: the next Ohayocon event, an anime and culture convention, might just be heaven on Earth.

Ohayocon will take place at the Hyatt Regency Columbus Hotel from February 10-13. The event will focus on Japanese culture and anime, but will also spotlight more modern pop culture, said convention manager Cody Marcum.

“It’s one of the biggest events in Ohio — in the Midwest, actually,” he said.

The convention has been around for 20 years, Marcum said, and attendance has only increased over time.

When Ohayocon started in 2001, only a few hundred people attended, Marcum said. This year, he said, the convention is expected to reach around 17,000 attendees, down from the 20,000 attendees in 2019 and 2020, before the pandemic hit.

Marcum said Ohayocon’s ability to stay afloat during the pandemic is down to community loyalty to the event.

“I don’t think anyone knows how COVID has affected a wide range of industries, especially the events industry and, you know, the in-person gathering industry,” Marcum said. “So a lot of events haven’t survived the last two years.”

Marcum said the event will include panels and meet-and-greets with voice actors and anime industry professionals, as well as gaming and cosplay competitions. This year, Ohayocon will even have a drag show, he said.

Abby Berding, director of programming at Ohayocon, said much of the convention is organized by the attendees, for the attendees.

Fans can sign up for a panel to present relevant topics in which they are knowledgeable. Berding said she started hanging out with Ohayocon when she was in high school and became more involved giving her own presentation.

“That’s how I started,” Berding said. “I actually just featured some anime that I enjoyed – oddly enough, the zombie apocalypse and how to prepare for the zombie apocalypse.”

In addition to giving presentations, attendees can create their own original art in various animation styles and then sell their creations in what the convention calls “Artist Alley,” Berding said.

Berding said the event has grown tremendously since she started attending. However, the event has not only grown in number of attendees, but also in age and diversity, she said.

“With the anime and convention community right now, it’s like people my age who grew up when anime first came to America, become super popular because of Cartoon Network and ‘Pokemon ‘” Berding said. “Now we’re passing that on to our kids and our siblings, and now the younger generations are getting into it even more.”

The community that gathers at Ohayocon every year is what Berding says motivates her to keep trying to make the event as welcoming as possible.

“That’s why I keep coming, to allow this safe space for people that gave me a safe space growing up,” Berding said. “You know, giving that sense of community to others.”

Those attending Ohayocon will be required to provide proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test within the past 72 hours, and everyone will be required to wear a mask, according to the website.

Tickets can be purchased from Ohayocon’s website before or during the event. Weekend passes start at $85 and day badges range from $25 to $60.

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