Magicfest Kyoto

A Chilly Spring in Kyoto

MagicFest Kyoto 2019 was a three day event held from March 22nd to the 24th. Recently, Wizards of the Coast has changed the event names from the previous “GP” to “MagicFest”, but I won’t delve much into that in this article. The weather was beautiful on Thursday and I didn’t even need a coat, but that didn’t last and the weekend was pretty cold. Last year’s GP Kyoto was during the cherry blossoms blooming season and I was expecting it to be exactly the same, but it seemed like we were a week ahead this time around. Since I couldn’t get any photos with the cherry blossoms this year, take a look at one of the shots I got of last years stunning cherry blossoms.

▲Last year, at Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, after GP Kyoto 2018

▲Last year, at Kyoto Gyoen National Garden, after GP Kyoto 2018

Japanese Magic Seen From Around the World

Working at a booth at these events means that I'm travelling not only in Japan, but all over the world; there are artists and judges that are doing the exact same amount of travelling as myself. There are tons of chances to work overseas GPs for the judges that like to travel, so you wind up seeing the same faces over and over in all sorts of places around the world (I seriously meet some of these judges more than I see some of my Japanese friends hahah).
For this article I decided to interview the world travelling, GP judge from Italy, Lamberto Franco! The theme being “Japanese Magic Seen From Around the World”.

▲Judge Lamberto

▲Judge Lamberto

Yuko: You’ve seen players from all over the world, but was there ever anything that surprised you about Japanese players?
Judge Lamberto: Well, compared to other parts of the world, I really get the feeling that Japanese players actively want to enjoy the game itself. They have a determination and strong commitment to their playstyle and deck choices. Outside of Japan, you get a lot of players that are not really interested in anything other than the outcome of the game.

Yuko: That’s very interesting. Is there anything else besides player attitude that is unique to Japan?
Judge Lamberto: The Japanese judges have a really great attitude about learning. Whenever I come to Japan as a judge, I get lots of questions from Japanese judges in particular. They seem so curious and actually engage in listening when you talk about situations that have arisen overseas or past experiences; and I get a sense that they want to grow as judges themselves.

Yuko: Oh wow, I had no idea. They really are trying their best huh? By the way, you don’t speak Japanese, so what do you do when Japanese players, that don’t speak Italian or English, call for a judge?
Judge Lamberto: We can generally make it work with the use of keywords and gestures. “Attack”, “Point”, “Damage”, etc. are words Japanese players can understand; that coupled with some charades, will explain most things. If for some reason we can’t make it work that way, we’ll call a Japanese/English bilingual judge, but I actually haven't had to do that at all during this GP.  

Yuko: That's pretty surprising that everything sort of just works out in the end! So, anything else strange or exciting at Japanese GPs?
Judge Lamberto: The “Lottery Culture” for sure! Many booths in Japan does these lotteries, but I’ve never seen them overseas. I suppose it comes from the Japanese stance on lotteries and enjoying them. If you’re overseas, people would probably be thinking, “You pay money, but you definitely won’t get what you want.” But in Japan, people are just there to have fun; and that’s a really interesting sight to me.
Yuko: Of course. I’ve also never seen one of these “lotteries” overseas either; it’s definitely an interesting part of the culture. Well thank you for taking some time out of your busy day here to talk to me! I’ll see you at another GP somewhere around the world soon I’m sure!

▲We also have a game called “Chandra’s Arena” at the TokyoMTG booths in Japan as well!

▲We also have a game called “Chandra’s Arena” at the TokyoMTG booths in Japan as well!

I was able to get a better understanding of the unique culture and attitude surrounding Magic in Japan. Aside from that, while I have been working at GPs all of the world, I was able to feel another nice side of Japan once again… the ease of cleaning up! Once players have left, the booth staff members started to clean up everything, and the proverb “A bird does not foul the nest that it is about to leave” comes to mind; this definitely made each booth way cleaner than any booth I’ve seen overseas.

▲A beautiful clean-up job

▲A beautiful clean-up job

Just like the the Japanese that cleaned the venue at the World Cup, I would like to do my part to help clean up at overseas events as well.