By Phinashia Page, Hida RPA
I knew I’d experience a lot of things for the first time in Japan, but camping was not one that I expected. Growing up, I never thought I’d ever enjoy camping; why would I ever want to sleep in a tent outside in the woods when I could be perfectly comfortable in my own bed? But add magic, adventure, and the chance to hit my friends with foam weapons, and I am apparently all about that life. I also never thought I’d be interested in LARP, but here we are.
To put it simply, Live Action Role Playing (LARP) is a roleplaying game where you become a character. Instead of imagining a battlefield or watching characters carry out actions on a screen, you perform the actions. You become the warrior or scholar. You trade with the traveling merchants and fight off the invaders in your campsite. You almost get hit with the tent the undead creature throws in your general direction. Okay, maybe that last one isn’t so glamorous… Because you’re doing things like actually running from bandits and sometimes even foraging for food (props), it’s also a great way to sneak some exercise in.
There are tons of kinds of LARP events. For example, there are events based on Harry Potter (yeah, you can go to wizarding school), Pride and Prejudice, and Game of Thrones. LARP can even be used for things like education and therapy. There is a surprisingly large amount of research being done on LARP, actually, and that information has the potential to help a lot of people.
My group plays for entertainment. I play with Havenhollow. We’re the first guild of Underworld LARP to be set up in Japan. In addition, as far as we know, we are the very first English-language LARP group in Japan. We play in a wooded, slightly mountainous area in Toyota City. Our typical event lasts two days, always over a weekend, so we usually camp on the land. It's surprisingly comfortable to sleep out there. The only downside, really, is the lack of running water...it really makes me appreciate that first after-LARP shower once I finally make my way home.
Personally, I was introduced to LARP by a fellow JET. I didn’t know what to expect, so I volunteered to be a non-playing character, or NPC, for my first event. Best. Decision. Ever. I got to play the eldest daughter of the duke who rules the island nation of Havenhollow, so basically a princess. She had the power to bring someone back to life, or call down an unstoppable warrior. There was even a fancy banquet to welcome her and her sister back from their journey to the continent. I also got to play as a guard and swing a sword, but being the princess was the best; anyone can swing a sword, but not many people can bring someone back to actual living life.
Unfortunately, the princess had a limited run. If I wanted to continue playing, I had to create my own character. So I did. When the time came, I returned as Allaire, a High Elf Mage who studies in the Sphere of Healing. For one whole weekend roughly once a month, I get to heal wounds and sicknesses in the blink of an eye, go on grand adventures, and help my new friends establish a new settlement. Also be charmed by a minotaur, almost killed by a necromancer, and attacked by the undead. But grand adventures, magical powers, and hitting people with foam weapons! I always get super excited to go out for the next event; I’ve even dedicated pages in my planner to my character, supply and packing lists, and equipment wish lists. I look forward to exploring more about my character and the characters of everyone else in the group.
While I’m grateful for not having to run through the woods in the heat that calls itself August, I can’t wait to get back to LARPing. I want to know what adventures lay ahead for our group inside the game, and who we’ll meet next in real life. We’re a small group, but we welcome anyone who wants to join in on the fun. We’ve had visitors join us from as far away as Tokyo and the Kansai area; even travelers from the United States, Australia, and New Zealand have graciously taken time out of their Japan vacations to come visit us! We’re always on the lookout for new players and friends, so feel free to stop by our Facebook page and have a look around.
And now for some links, because links are cool.
Japan-Guildhouse Havenhollow Facebook Page – This is the place to go to for information about upcoming events and to see pictures and videos from past events.
Underworld LARP – The site for the system under which we play. Lots of great information here. I recommend taking a look through the Core Rule Book if you think you might be interested in joining us.
Wanna see us in action?
A LARP in Japan - This link starts part-way through, but it’s from an adventure we had back in February when a lovely woman named Cheyenne came to visit Japan. Check out the other videos on this channel for some awesome information about LARP and the wonderful team known as Larp House.
In Character Adventures from Underworld LARP - We also had a visit when the team behind the Tamwise Travels YouTube channel were on a trip to Japan in May. The other videos on this channel are awesome and super informative as well. This video is a recap of the first half of our adventure together; it's a great way to hold you over until the second half of the adventure is uploaded.