Hello everyone! I’m Ruriiro, a JMoF staff member.
All of the staff members who love conventions and events have come together to present you with this new regular column called “Event Impressions”!
Here, we will introduce a variety of our favorite events.
Especially because the current situation doesn’t allow us to go outside much, we kept thinking about how much we look forward to future events, so we took a look back at past events!
The first event we would like to talk about for Event Impressions is “OKIKEMO!”.
OKIKEMO takes place in Okinawa, which I’m sure every one of you knows, is in the southern part of Japan. Although the last time I have participated myself was in 2017, my memories of this event are still vivid. Today we will read more about OKIKEMO from its’ representative Shelby, so please feel free to read on!
Interview with OKIKEMO representative Shelby
Ruriiro: Alright, let’s start! Shelby, please introduce yourself first!
Shelby: Hi everyone! My name is Shelby, I’m the OKIKEMO representative and I live in the southern islands of Okinawa where I spend my time wearing the fursuits of my original lycaon characters, Tahoe and Chevro!
Since I was a child I always got excited watching shows or playing games with animal-based characters in them. When I finally saw pictures of fursuits on the internet the first time, it had a great impact on me. I wanted to do the same and have fun wearing my own, so I started to build my very first wolf fursuit by observing how others made theirs. Now I still love furries and often attend furry-related events outside of the prefecture, but my main activity consists of hosting the OKIKEMO event in my home area Okinawa.
Ruriiro: Being the head of your own event is quite impressive! Can you tell me a little about the event’s origin?
Shelby: The first OKIKEMO was held in 2014 at the community center in Naha. At that time, only about 20 people attended the event, with a few participants from outside the prefecture. It wasn’t until 2016 that we started holding the event at the American Village in Chatan, and with the help of a nearby hotel, we had about 50 participants. Every year since then, the number of participants gradually increased and in 2019, which was the last time we held the event, we had 140 people show up!
Ruriiro: It’s amazing that 140 people showed up in Okinawa! What do you think is the most appealing point of OKIKEMO?
Shelby: I think the most appealing point is that OKIKEMO takes place at a very photogenic location. It has a large city bustling with families and tourists, scenery with colorful and unique buildings, and a beautiful tropical beach. Having a chance to wear your fursuit and freely enjoy this wonderful location to the fullest is probably the event’s biggest appeal!
Ruriiro: Okinawa is definitely an amazing location. I’ve never had the opportunity to wear a fursuit on the beach before, so it was a very fresh and fun experience!
I also want to point out the barbecue that is held after the OKIKEMO. It doesn’t happen often that you get the chance to enjoy an event not only among participants, but also the tourists who visited the area.
Ruriiro: What has been the most enjoyable part for you so far?
Shelby: Having fun with everyone wearing fursuits is certainly one of the best things about it, but the most fun I had was during the opening ceremony of the OKIKEMO in 2019! Until then I had always hosted it alone and got nervous standing in front of all the participants every time, but in 2019 Rasmil joined me and we hosted the ceremony together. Rasmil’s follow-up was perfect on stage and we managed to make it go just as planned, which was a great feeling and a lot of fun.
Ruriiro: Nice to see the opening of an event going so smoothly! From a participant’s point of view, the opening gives you a sense of excitement that the event is about to begin, so in a way, that’s probably the most exciting part of it all!
Unfortunately, OKIKEMO was canceled in 2020. Do you have any plans for the next event?
Shelby: Of course we do! We are working hard to prepare for 2021, so please look forward to it!
However, until now the event has always been held in September, which means we have been at the mercy of typhoons every year, so we are planning to move it to October. We hope for everyone’s patience until the official schedule will be announced.
Ruriiro: Typhoons are a difficult problem in Okinawa, aren’t they? But I really want to participate in the next OKIKEMO, so I’ll be waiting for more information.
Last but not least, is there anything you would like to say to our readers?
Shelby: I hope that this introduction will give people an impression of OKIKEMO’s appeal and a reason to come visit us. We are looking forward to seeing you at our convention, so please don’t hesitate to join us!
Ruriiro: I also hope that this article will get lots of people interested in OKIKEMO. Thank you very much for your time today, Shelby!