I returned to Japan after MagicFest Taipei, stayed for a single day and then left again for MagicFest Copenhagen the following weekend (6/14-6/16). Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark, for those of you that don’t know, and takes about 11 and a half hours to get to from Tokyo; we had to transfer in Dusseldorf, Germany this time, so all told it took 13 hours to get to Copenhagen. Leaving the hot and humidness of Taipei, to the cool and windy high altitude climate of Copenhagen.
The sunsets at around 10PM in Copenhagen during the summer, so you can stay out a lot later. Even on the weekdays tons of parks all over the city are fairly busy; everyone, from children to the elderly are taking a load off. Children in their undies playing in the fountain, young people talking with a beer in their hand, a group of middle-aged men playing frisbee and women stretching on their yoga mats. Just seeing this made me realize exactly why Denmark always ranks high on the “happiest countries” list.
A Big Wooden Box on a Tricycle?
You’d be surprised with how many bicyclists you’ll see while walking around Copenhagen. Whether it’s commuting to work or just getting around town, most roads there will have a bike path for the loads of people that need them. Among all of them, I saw three bikes with a big box on the front of them. After asking the locals, I was told those boxes are for kids to ride in or to carry what you buy while shopping; the box is big enough for two kids to ride in. I saw a lot of moms and dads ferrying their kids around in these boxes. The Magic: The Gathering artist, Jesper Ejsing lives in Copenhagen and has one of these bikes and took Benedict, one of our European staff members, for a ride!
Interactions with a Magic Artist
When it comes to European MagicFests, we meet up with a lot of artists we know, going to dinners, spending time together and generally just having fun with them (I wrote about this in my GP Warsaw article). This time in Copenhagen though, we were able to spend some time and grab dinner with Johannes Voss(who came to TokyoMTG back in April), his partner and Jesper Ejsing, whose art is all over our store!
I want to talk a little bit about how I interact with artists generally. As I mentioned earlier, Johannes came to our shop back in April for a signing session. During that time I helped him with interpretation and interacting with customers. Before he left our store he surprised me with a squirrel art print and thanked me for interpreting for him; I’ve framed it up and have it displayed in my house! It’s so round and cute and heals me whenever I look at it.
I met Jesper for the first time in Copenhagen, but we have so many of his originals in the shop, so I had been really curious about what kind of person he was. I was super happy to finally have met him. On top of that, he was kind enough to allow us into his art studio. A large drafting table, a bookshelf full of photos and illustrations for reference, and models for drawing; I got a really great experience of just how art is born.
I don’t play Magic that much so things like card names, effects, mana costs, etc. are sort of lost on me; I mainly remember pieces by the art. As such, interacting with artists has given me a much better grasp on Magic cards. This is particularly useful when attending a MagicFest and a customer comes up and shows me the art of the card whilst asking if we have it. The thought of “Oh, I’ve seen this art before, I just saw one in our stock before!” or something comes up and I can remember whether we have it or not. I’m doing my best to a saleswoman at MagicFests through my knowledge of card art.
Protecting Your Cards from Roof Leaks!?
This time the convention center was for MagicFest Copenhagen was about 15 minutes by monorail, from the middle of the city. The area is currently under development with lots of stylish buildings being put up one after another.
Meanwhile, the convention center looked like a pretty old building and on Saturday morning all the booths were given big vinyl covers while being told, “There’s a storm coming!” and “There might be leaks in the ceiling! Here use this so the cards don’t get wrecked.” As a precaution we put all the cards we brought in suitcases and stacked them on the tables. On top of that, there was risk of leaks along the aisles so we quickly made a sort of dam or embankment with a belt of the vinyl material. If that all wasn’t enough, the TokyoMTG booth also had to be moved quite far from where we started due to those risks…
This was a totally new experience for me, but I still think I would prefer to not have to worry about leaks (lol). In the end the storm passed and nothing got wet; it was hard to move our booth, but I’m just glad nothing happened after all.
A Country Used to Switching Languages
Danish is the national language of Denmark, and the Danish people speak it amongst themselves, but English is also fairly standard as well. If they are speaking with someone and realize they can’t speak Danish, they will immediately be able to switch to English. So whether I was at the supermarket, a cafe or a restaurant, I didn’t have any trouble speaking with anyone.
Speaking of language, there was one impressive thing that happened at the MagicFest. A group of three junior highschool boys came to the TokyoMTG booth; they seemed like kids from the area. They were talking in Danish to one another, but when they came to the booth they asked me “Dansk? Or English?” (Danish or English?) Now I of course don’t understand Danish, so I answered, “English, please.” and they spoke to me in English; I was impressed they asked me which language to speak to start things off.
I was impressed on two counts. First, they didn’t look at me, being of Asian descent, and just assume I couldn’t speak Danish, but rather, they let me decide what language I wished to continue the conversation. The second was just how smoothly they were able to communicate in English with people that could not speak Danish. If they were junior highschool kids in Japan, I think they might have trouble doing the same. As a former junior highschool student myself, when confronted with non-Asian foreign person, I imagine it turns into a “Sorry, no English” situation for young children. The quality of education in Denmark is really apparent when interacting with the children here. They talk to everyone without judging, or first realizing that they are an “outsider” and just communicate naturally; I hope Japan can become like that someday.