Character building

Thousands of fans of Japanese pop culture will descend on downtown for the Tokyo in Tulsa convention.



Tokyo in Tulsa attendees dress in character costumes while also taking on the persona of those characters.

If you thought playing dress up, watching cartoons, dancing and video gaming were only for kids, you haven’t been to Tokyo in Tulsa (TnT). Around 7,000 attendees are expected to meet at the Cox Business Center Aug. 2-4 to celebrate Japanese culture and its spirited mark here in the U.S.

Beginning as a small block party almost a decade ago at Tulsa’s now-defunct Darkstone Anime Store, the annual event has exponentially grown into a celebrated affair. TnT welcomes all ages to a family-friendly and energetic atmosphere with plenty of activities and entertainment — all Japanese-inspired.  

Be prepared for a Halloween-like experience. “Cosplay,” short for costume play, will be rampant among convention-goers. Cosplayers dress in character costumes while also taking on the persona of those characters.  

“Attending Tokyo in Tulsa is a visual feast,” says Saif Khan, one of the event’s directors. “The bright colors and detailed artistry that is cosplay is well beyond anything some imagine. While plenty of attendees will simply be in their everyday wear, cosplayers will be there in droves.”

Serious cosplayers will change up to eight times in a weekend, he says.

Beyond costume changes, attendees can choose from a plethora of activities. Gamers can look forward to classic arcade games and pinball, as well as current video and role-playing games.

“Tokyo in Tulsa has so much happening at once; it really depends on your focus,” Khan says.

Other features include vendors and artwork from around the nation, and anime video rooms with the latest videos streaming from Japan.

Art and costume competitions will also take place along with evening musical performances. Highlighting the weekend’s musical acts is the Japanese chart-topping band, DESTROSE, in its U.S. debut, Friday at 9 p.m. Plus, more than 200 hours of seminars and panels, on topics from Asian culture to comic books, are scheduled throughout the convention. Select events will be held at the DoubleTree Hotel in downtown Tulsa.

Lori Holden, from the cosplay group Mythos, sees the event as a brief but exciting alternative to the mundane.

“We’re all joined together by the community of Japanese and pop culture,’” she says.

Holden’s favorite part about TnT is interacting with convention attendees. She says to not miss the Artists’ Alley, which sells unusual items “from keychains to T-shirts to handmade cupcakes you can wear on your head.”

The event runs from 2 p.m. Friday to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are available at the door of the Cox Business Center; options include a $30 one-day all-access pass and a $50 three-day all-access pass. A $15 one-day limited pass gives holders a choice of access to one day of music, one evening music performance, the gaming area or the vendor room/Artists’ Alley.

The Cox Business Center is located at 100 Civic Center. The DoubleTree Hotel is located at 616 W. Seventh St. For schedules and additional information, visit www.tokyointulsa.com.

8/18-24 Just Between Friends

One of the Midwest’s largest consignment events, Just Between Friends, returns this month to the Expo Square Exchange Center. Thousands of gently used toys, baby products, and baby and maternity clothes are available for purchase at a fraction of what one would pay new. Designated for fall and winter weather, the JBF sale is perfect for back-to-school shopping.

Admission on opening day, Aug. 18, is $10; admission Aug. 19-24 is free. Discount days begin Aug. 22. For free admission on opening day, JBF is accepting donations of diapers, food and baby hygiene products for Emergency Infant Services. Visit www.tulsa.jbfsale.com for more information.

8/24 Conquer the Gauntlet

A test of physical and mental toughness comes in the form of a challenging 4-mile obstacle course Aug. 24. Located at Tulsa Raceway Park, 3103 N. Garnett Road, the event stands apart from other races with more than 25 grueling obstacles on difficult terrain. If an excuse to get muddy isn’t reason enough, Conquer the Gauntlet’s mission is to develop character, commitment and community via the difficult course. All participants receive an “I Conquered the Gauntlet” T-shirt, and top male and female racers receive cash prizes. Cost is $85. Register by Aug. 15 at www.conquerthegauntlet.com/tulsalocation.

8/24 Glow Run 5K

A nighttime run to beat the summer heat and have a glowing good time, Glow Run is a 3.1 mile jaunt through Veterans Park, located at 1875 S. Boulder Ave. The race course is complete with black light zones, a glowing finish-line arch and music. An on-course DJ will spin the latest dance mixes to keep runners motivated. Participants receive a Glow Run T-shirt, glow swag, a medal and entrance to the post-race glow celebration. The race starts at 8:30 p.m. Dogs aren’t allowed, but strollers are welcome.

Registration $37 until Aug. 10; $40, Aug. 11-21; $45, on race day. Visit www.glowrun5k.com/tulsa.html for more information.

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