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Japanese event gives new life to cardboard boxes as giant Gundam statues, cosplay outfits

A statue of a "Mobile Suit Gundam" combat robot made from cardboard boxes is seen in the lobby of the Aomori Tourist Information Center (ASPAM) in the city of Aomori on Nov. 28, 2021. The back of a second robot is just visible at right. (Mainichi/Hirosato Nansako)

AOMORI -- Combat robots from the "Mobile Suit Gundam" anime loomed over visitors and kaiju monsters from the vintage Japanese sci-fi TV series "Ultraman" stalked the halls at the Aomori Tourist Information Center (ASPAM) here on Nov. 28, for the facility's fourth annual event dedicated to creations made entirely from cardboard.

    The "Danborian" event was first held in 2018, to craft cardboard boxes -- "danboru" in Japanese -- into new forms one more time before they headed to the waste heap. The 2021 edition has three sections: one for static works, one for cosplay, and a "smile" section for beginners in the art of transforming plain old cardboard into fantastic products of the imagination. A total of 30 individuals and teams have works on display for "Danborian 4" in the city of Aomori.

    Cosplayers in costumes crafted from cardboard boxes parade through the Aomori Tourist Information Center (ASPAM) in the city of Aomori on Nov. 28, 2021. (Mainichi/Hirosato Nansako)

    One of the most popular displays was the 3-meter-tall "Mobile Suit Gundam" robots that had taken over ASPAM's entrance hall. Deeper inside the building, Ultraman's kaiju enemies Jamila and Zetton roamed with other cosplayers in full cardboard getups, posing for photos with visitors.

    The day's schedule included a public chat with 78-year-old actor Bin Furuya, who played the first-generation Ultraman, and a cosplayer parade inside ASPAM. A traditional Aomori "neputa" illuminated festival float painted on themes from the "Flying Witch" manga and anime series -- set in the Aomori Prefecture city of Hirosaki -- was also rolled by, wowing the crowd.

    Toshiya Totani, a 58-year-old truck driver from Kumano, Mie Prefecture, who cosplayed as Ultraman kaiju Telesdon for the event, told the Mainichi Shimbun, "I got to meet people with the same hobby as me, and had a lot of fun talking with them about our toils and techniques."

    Event committee head Takahisa Mikami, 52, commented, "The participants are all very lively, and the event turned out to be one that will connect to the next edition."

    (Japanese original by Hirosato Nansako, Aomori Bureau)

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