Sakurabana, the organization for promotion of Japanese pop-culture in Serbia, was founded in 2006. In seven years of our existence, we grew into the biggest organization of this kind in the region of former Yugoslavia, and we plan to expand our activities even further. We work with the wholehearted support of the Embassy of Japan in Serbia, which has assisted us a lot in our work and expansion.
Our main goal is to promote and popularize the products of Japanese pop-culture – namely manga and anime, but also video games, fashion, music and cinema. In order to achieve this, we host the following events and activities within our organization:
• Manga workshops
In our workshops, the participants may learn the manga drawing techniques from the finest manga artists in Serbia. The curriculum is based on the program of Tokyo Animation College.
• Manga library
As the only one of its kind in the Balkans, our manga library has a collection of over 400 titles that our members may borrow and read free of charge. The books are in English, Japanese, Croatian, German and French.
• Lectures and panels
We organize events on many important topics in the world of Japanese entertainment industry – from lectures on the work of eminent manga and anime authors, to panel debates on hot topics and controversial issues.
• Video Game Nights
About once a month in the premises of our club, Sakurabana organizes tournaments in the newest Japanese video games, awarding the winners with truly valuable prizes.
• J-music Parties
In the (in)famous Underworld, one of Belgrade’s best known alternative night clubs, once a month we organize popular J-pop and J-rock parties, supported by numerous independent designers who often make mini fashion shows.
• “Japanizam” – summertime convention
Since 2008, every year in early July, we proudly host the biggest regional event that celebrates Japan and its pop-culture – the convention “Japanizam”. There were five “Japanizam” festivals held so far. In 2012, “Japanizam” consisted of four days of intense and exciting program, culminating with a most spectacular cosplay competition. In those four days, the festival had around 7000 attendances (a shocking number for a country as small as Serbia), with many guests from abroad, and it offered the visitors a true outburst of positive energy. In the years to come, we hope that “Japanizam” will continue to develop in the right direction, becoming the biggest and the most important Japanese pop-culture convention in the entire Southeastern Europe.
- “ChibiCon” – wintertime mini-convention
Starting from 2013, and giving in to the popular demand of Serbian anime and manga fans who wanted to have a wintertime event, we started organizing ChibiCon – “Japanizam”’s winter counterpart, a small-scale festival that consists of an overview of the most popular contents of our main convention. The first “ChibiCon” was visited by more than 1000 people in three days, and we hope that in the future our mini-convention will continue to grow and build an identity of its own.
Sakurabana carries out its activities with approval and support from the Embassy of Japan in Serbia and the City of Belgrade Administration. We also collaborate with a long list of eminent local NGOs, media organizations and business companies. Yet, it is important to note that, unlike most western countries, in Serbia there is no developed market for Japanese pop-culture products – not a single publishing company is specialized in manga, and anime aired on TV here are only the ones for the youngest audiences. There were no industry sponsors that could back us up. What we managed to accomplish in these seven years was done out of thin air, by fans, for fans, with love and enthusiasm.
In order to continue to expand our activities, and to popularize the Japanese pop-culture in the region, we hope to make each “Japanizam” festival more spectacular than the last. See you on “Japanizam 2013”, while in the mean time you can enjoy our numerous everyday activities. In the mean time, if you happen to visit Belgrade, we’ll be more than happy to welcome you in our club, in the very city center – 6 Pop Lukina street.