I have acquired kind permission from Robert Fransgaard, husband of late Anja/d.ark to repost this informative blog entry which she had written up about her experience at Dolpa (Volks Doll Party) in 2010. The original entry was extremely helpful and comforting to read over, before my first Dolpa experience in April of 2013, and I hope it will continue to help others as long as the contents are still relevant. :) I dated this entry on the same date when it was originally posted and did minor formatting to fit it into this page.
Please kindly note that I may not be able to answer questions asked regarding the content below, but I will try within my means from my own experience when possible.
Dolpa For Dummies
Posted on June 10, 2010 by d.ark
Content of Dolpa for Dummies
- Dolpa For Dummies
- How to Get Your Dolpa Guide Book
- To reserve a Bento Box or not to reserve a Bento Box
- Getting to Big Sight
- At Big Sight – Getting Into Those Queues
- Queuing for Limiteds
- Queuing for Sumika items
- Doing the Dolpa
- Lottery for One Offs and Limiteds
- Getting your bingo plates and how to play
- Dolpa, Done!
1. Dolpa For Dummies
As I was heading for Tokyo this year for the Dollshow, again, I discovered by pure accident that Dolpa was on as well two days later.
Did I want to go, Hell ya!
(Pardon the swearing but in this instance, it is needed )
So I set out on an endeavour to find information on this in English as I to this point of time does not do Japanese very well. It sort of limits itself to Arigato, Ohayou gozaimasu, Konbanwa, doku desuka, nandemo kekkou desu and nani. Last one picked up from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
This turned out to be a lot harder than I thought it would be.
There would be snippets here and there on blogs and if I were lucky I managed to dig out information from threads on Forums that were as long as “Gone With the Wind” O.o making it impossible to find anything.
PMing selected people who looked like they knew what they were talking about turned out to be the best info I did manage to find but if one is not as cheeky as me and daring to do so, info like this would not be obtainable by pure “search and destroy” tactics.
So, I decided upon my return back to Blighty that a Dummies manual on this was called for.
I by no means can call myself an expert on this subject as I have only attended one Dolpa in my entire life, I do plan on more if all things permit, but so far, that is it!
However, I wish this had been there for me when I first started planning this late winter/ early spring. Might have saved me some headaches and a few slip ups here and there ^^
Note: There are workshops at Dolpa too but as I did not attend any or attempt to attend any, have no idea how these works.
Any input on this please enlighten me ^^
Right, here we go!
2. How to Get Your Dolpa Guide Book
If you are currently stationed in Japan, just pop into a Volks shop/ showroom anywhere and they will sell you one.
Call a shop and they will reserve you one to pick up.
If you are not so fortunate as to be stationed/ living in Japan and read/ speak no Japanese you can order yours over the international site.
Make sure that your postal service gives you enough time for customs release, ashclouds and what have we.
Should you encounter any postal issues like customs detention/ ashclouds/ postal strikes, contact Volks IMMIDIATELY by mail and explain the situation to them.
Let them know where-abouts you will be staying and they will arrange a copy for you in the nearest store/ showroom that you can pick up once you get there.
You will have to pay for it there but the parcel you have been sent will be returned to sender when you do not pick it up.
Not sure how the US site works in regards to this. Please check for yourself if you are US based ^^
If you got contacts in Japan, friends/ forum contacts/ deputy services, ask them to pick you up a copy and either get them to send it to you, could potentially save you customs fees if they send it marked down and as personal effects. It will pass straight through.
Or meet up with them once you arrive in Japan, any excuse for a meal/ drink/ socialising is good in my book ^^
Or just get your Japanese speaking contact to reserve you a copy in your name to pick up on arrival, this means they wont have to cover any costs at reservation time and you can do the legwork yourself and pick up stuffs at the same time.
If you do speak Japanese you could call a store/ showroom and reserve a copy, sure they would do so for you, but if you do not speak any japanese, this might not be a very sensible solution.
You can also rely on it still being in stock in store when you arrive.
I visited a couple of stores before Dolpa and they both had the guidebook at the tills, so in my experience, it might be worth it, especially if you are in a country where they do charge you customs for everything and you got no contacts who can help you out in Japan.
You could also wait until you get to the Dolpa show and buy it at the door.
Note, this WILL mean you lose out on the lottery draw for a place in the line for limiteds and Sumika items as they start the queues for this an hour earlier than actual show and ticket sales starts!
So if you are there for the limited items this IS a bad choice.
However, if you are just coming to soak up the atmosphere and browse the stalls without looking for anything in particular, this could be the option to go for.
3. To reserve a Bento Box or not to reserve a Bento Box
To save on the cash for your dollie expenditures on the day it might be a good idea to buy the Guidebook with the pre-orderable Bento Box. Then you only have to pick it up and tuck in. This is what we opted for.
(There are no cash machines that I noticed at Big Sight and no dealers accepts cards. Only Volks will take your plastic money).
However, at Dolpa 23 the available-on-the-day Bento Box was a cuuuute Hello Kitty plastic bento box that would have been so cool to have for bringing my lunch to work in.
The pre-ordered was a huge heavy clay pot that weighed half a kilo >.< No way that was going into the suitcase!
But of course, there is no knowing if this will be different for the next Dolpa so go with what you find most convenient.
Or bring your own lunch! A lot cheaper but less convenient.
Also, if you are picky or have special food requirements being allergies, religious requirements or you simply choose not to eat certain things like meat, then the Bento Box should be opted out.
Think there are food places around Big Sight but this will make you lose time in the sense you have to find them, buy stuff, bring back etc.
4. Getting to Big Sight
This takes FOREVER!
Note, this place is in the middle of nowhere!
You have to take several train/metro lines depending on where you are staying.
Of course, if you are staying at a nearby hotel this is not an issue but if you as me decide to stay in say Nakano/ Shinjuku/ Shibuya area, prepare for an hour to an hour and a half on public transport.
There are two routes to Big sight.
I took the scenic overground, for London people DLR like train line, to it and landed at Kokusai-Tenjijo Station.
Not sure if the other one is under or overground but according to Mitsuki_Moon on DOA it is less scenic and slightly more cunfusing in terms of finding your way to Big Sight. However, depending on where you are staying this might be more convenient for you!
Check out your travel plans before you head out, will save you a lot of pain at early hours in the morning.
Once you get there, just follow the crowds, I am sure you will spot a lot of trolleys and doll carriers and lolita clad peeps that will be going to exactly the same thing as you ^^
5. At Big Sight – Getting Into Those Queues
Again, follow the crowds if you already got your guidebook.
If you do not have a guidebook then start joining the queues outside as these are for the folks who have not bought one, they are NOT the queues for limited items as i first thought.
Queues for limited items only start INSIDE the actual Dolpa venue area and you have to show your guidebook to even get into the area where they are.
6. Queuing for Limiteds
In my perception: You do not have to be there at 7am to get a good number. You can as easily draw number 5000 as you can number 1 at 7am in the morning.
Of course, if you want to be part of the buzz and the eternal wait for 9am when they start forming the lines then do get there early, if not, then just make sure you get there before 9am.
It is a lottery draw. You get to the entrance, there will be tables with big lottery drum thingys, you show them your guidebook, they will cut of a corner of your guidebook and you draw a lottery ticket.
This is your number in the line.
Best chance of getting a good number is to buy more guidebooks.
And even then, you are not guaranteed a good one.
Luck of the draw!
Me and hubby got there at around 8am and got equally crap numbers but some who had gotten their way earlier was not far of being having one just as crap as ours.
When you have your lottery ticket with your number that hopefully is within the first 500, you are let into the venue.
If not within the first 500-1000, then chose if you want to stay for the leftovers as you are likely not to get your first choice or join the line for the Sumika items.
I got a number somewhere near 3000 and Hubby got close to 5000.
I swapped my ticket with another attendee who was from the US who I unfortunately did not get the contact details of as I would like to thank her!!!
Did not think I would get anything at all but there was one doll left when my number was finally called: Chika the Dolpa 23 Yo-SD so went for her and I absolutely adore her. Her name is Pino btw ^^
Within the venue you will notice areas marked with big signs stating number sequences like 1-500, 501-600, 2000-3000 etc.
You go to the area where your number belong and do not have to stand in any particular order.
Just take a seat on the floor where there is room ^^ Bring your breakfast and have a picnic
They will start calling numbers around 9am, dont worry if you do not understand japanese, they will have nice big understandable signs.
They will be calling numbers in groups from 1-100, 101-200 so on and so forth.
When your number sequence is called, walk up to the speaker who is calling the numbers and Volks staff will guide you up to the numbered from 1-100 line that is printed on the floor at the top of the waiting area.
You then walk over and stand at your number. So say you are number 220 you walk over to number 20.
When they have filled up the line you have offically joined the que and it will start moving towards the doll selection point.
Once you get to the selection point you state what doll you want by pointing at the corresponding picture on the board they have at the selection point.
You will then receive two tickets. One is for payment, one is for pickup.
You proceed to the tillpoint.
After you pay you can either pick up your doll purchases or you can decide to leave the heavy box/es for later pickup – dont leave it too late, think the deadline was around 2-3pm.
After you pick up the box you can send it to yourself within Japan, not sure if they do overseas shipments.
If you do want to ship it abroad and they do not provide this service at Dolpa, do pick up a transport carton tough.
They were 300 yen, so worth it or you will have a bit of trouble trying to find one at the post office, they do not do dolliebox size cartons there.
And I do suggest you courier them home by EMS unless you fly business or premium economy your weight limit is somewhat limited to the early 20kg limit.
Considering the resin ones weigh between 2-3kg each then you can easily be paying overweight charges at around £60 per kg or something just as ridicoulous as that.
Much cheaper to ship EMS. Just make sure you get a Japanese address to put on the parcel just for show!
As far as I know, it is one of each doll per person so you could potentially buy them all should you get a good number.
I believe this is why they disappear so fast as all the scalpers of course buy one of each where us mere mortals only buy the ones we actually want and can afford.
If I am wrong about the one of each doll per person, please let me know!
7. Queuing for Sumika items
For this, you HAVE to get there early! It is worked on a first come first serve basis and it is one of each item per person only.
If you are in a group it might be worth splitting up so one half do the Sumika items and the other half do the Limiteds if you get good numbers for the Limited’s line.
Quite simple actually compared to the whole Limiteds business, just get there early and join the line!
To me it looked slightly disorganised but it might not have been. Maybe people were just eager to get in ^^
8. Doing the Dolpa
When you finished standing in line and have paid for your Volks purchases you enter the actual Dolpa dealers area or if you ditched the lines, then you enter once they open at 10am.
Some people run when the doors open, you are welcome to follow but you don’t have too ^^
They know what dealers to attack and what limited goods are on sale, if you are into all this you might know and will be running too, if you don’t, no need to run, unless of course you want to and follow one of the runners just to see what is so interesting. You might just pick up something awesome ^^
Know I missed lot of fab goods but hey, there is always YHJ! for that later lol.
If you know who and what you are looking for it might be an idea to queue up to get into the dealers area instead of queuing for Limiteds and Sumika items, especially if you get a really lousy number.
Most of the things on sale is frilly and fluffy as this is what the Japanese seems to like most: Kawaii!
There is some fetish gear and goth stuff around and some wicked weaponry but mostly it is lolita or casual things on display. Few crafty stalls around too.
I was of the perception that no other dolls than Volks’ own were permitted but I did spot a couple of Mama Chapps and Azone girls in and around the various stalls.
Also, good idea to do a bit of price comparison as some of the dealers will have the same things for sale, same goes for the Dollshow actually. So keep your eyes peeled. Getting a bargain will be kinda hard unless you speak Japanese
But, you might acquire lots of strange freebies.
I ended up with a strange handmade fan from Little Wonder Wardrobe and lots of clip art card board cut outs of doll sized cereal packs?
Make sure you pick up business cards from the stalls you like!
Same applies to Dollshow.
This will enable you first of all to remember who you saw and what you liked but also gives you the web address for later browsing and shopping purposes.
A lot of the dealers will be private and most likely not ship abroad but then at least you have a link to give to your shopping service of choice.
9. Lottery for One Offs and Limiteds
There are forms within the Dolpa Guidebook that lets you enter into a lottery draw for the one offs that are on display as well as the Limiteds.
I did not go for any of these as don’t really like Volks SD boys and girls :/ so I have not tried and tested this myself. This is how it was explained to me by Cassie ^^
So, if you after having a look at the display fancy a chance of getting your hands on one of these, fill in the form and put it in the box that corresponds to the doll that you want to try for.
Winners are announced from the stage at a set time of the day and name will be called three times. If you do not respond within the three calls it will go to the next person.
If you do not do Japanese, hit the information desk and ask for an English speaking helper to help you fill in the form and give you a time table.
We were really luck that there were an American girl working for Volks at this Dolpa who’s name was Cassie. We ran to her every time we had a thing we needed to sort out. So a big thank you to her for all her help!
The Japanese staff might say they can’t speak English but in most cases that is not entirely true.
They might not speak it very well but they often do understand you and will help point you in the right direction.
There is no harm in trying!
This goes for general out-and-about as well!
10. Getting your bingo plates and how to play
There is a booth somewhere that will stamp your guidebook and give you a bingo plate in exchange.
If you cannot figure out which one, just hit the info desk, or show your guidebook to random people and ask for the way there
Also, ask them when it is if you do not read the japanese time table.
When calling out the numbers someone will write the numbers on a big board at the same time so you can play even if you do not understand Japanese.
If you get bingo, wave your hands wildly in the air and shout bingo and enter the stage area.
Someone will check your bingo plate and if you are the only one that waved your hands wildly in the air and shouted bingo, you get to pull a string and the price at the end of it is yours. Aything from gift vouchers by the looks of it to full-set dolls.
If more than one did the above, you get to play paper/rock/scissors for your place in the line to pull a string, but ehm, they do it very fast and not really sure if they got the same rules as here in this part of the world. So… Good luck!
11. Dolpa, Done!
Time to head back to base and go through all the goodies acquired, blogging, tweeting and taking pics and posting them where-ever you see fit ^^
If you feel any of the stuff I have entered is incorrect, please drop me a line/ comment and I will update asap. Especially if you have done this a lot of times input will be highly appreciated as again, this is my very first time doing this!