At any geek event in Japan, you'll see them: cosplayers. Convention centres are not ideal backgrounds for the fantasy of fancy costumes. Amateur photographers who aren't happy with the shitty con setting even rent private spaces and hire cosplayers for more professional looking photos.
While cosplayers continue to favour real backgrounds like abandoned buildings, empty parking garages, or even love hotel rooms for shoots, cosplay studios are starting to catch on. By providing a controlled environment for picture taking, cosplay studios are creating a new cottage industry.
Recently opened in Niigata shopping complex Bandai City Billboard Palace, Gataket Cosplay Park bills itself as "Japan's first large scale cosplay photography speciality studio". Gataket isn't based in Tokyo's or Osaka's geek district, but in Niigata City.
The prices are so low that one cosplay blog wonders if they'll actually cause other studios to lower their prices.
While renting studio space in Tokyo can get real expensive real quick, Niigata's Gataket Cosplay Park offers studio space for the bargain basement price of ¥1,500 (US$18) per person—for the entire day! On the weekend or holidays, that price will buy you only four hours of studio time. Prices jump to ¥2000 (US$25) for non-cosplayers, but there is a student discount for those with valid school id.
Inside the cosplay park, there is a variety of sets: church backgrounds, faux gardens, a wine cellar, European sitting rooms, classical ruins, a Japanese room and even a prison cell. Gataket Cosplay Park is around 80 percent complete, and in the future, it will create new sets based on cosplayers' wants and needs.
But does Niigata City have enough of a cosplaying community to support the studio? At this prices, it should.
Check the gallery for more photos, courtesy of website Asagawo Blog.