Gaming at Tokyo, OK 2023
We’ve enjoyed Tokyo, OK (formerly Tokyo in Tulsa) in the past, but hadn’t been in a couple years. If you are unfamiliar, Tokyo, OK is “Oklahoma’s Largest Anime, Japanese and Pop Culture Festival,” held in downtown Tulsa each summer. Formerly, our family stuck to the Artist Alley and Vendor Room. Shopping tickets were the cheapest, after all. I made the decision to go this year fairly last-minute and wasn’t sure how much time we’d have to dedicate to the event. Surprise, surprise, Joss and I ended up going all three days – Friday through Sunday – spending at least two hours each day. We had so much fun!
We still enjoyed the shopping experience. In particular, the Artist Alley. Joss is a big Pokémon fan, as I’m sure you know if you’ve read this blog much. So we had to pick up several adorable Pokémon prints.
We spent the majority of our time in the Gaming room, which was largely hosted by Dice Addiction. One activity they provided was mini-figure painting. Mini-figures can be used to play games like Warhammer 40K, but I think some people paint them just for fun and relaxation. At Tokyo, OK, you could pick out a $5 mini-figure (or purchase another off the shelves), and then paint it for free.
If you wanted, you could then enter your painted figure in the (again, free) mini-figure contest. When we grabbed our mini-figure, the volunteer said there was only one other entry in the mini-figure contest, so we figured: Why not?
Our entries didn’t win (some of the pieces were AMAZING!). However, we did luck out because there was also a model robot contest. We were invited to cast a vote for our favorite robot, and then they did a drawing from all the votes. As we were walking to the bus a minute later, they texted us a notification that we’d won the drawing!
Joss got distracted during the painting because he really wanted to do a Yu-Gi-Oh demo. Dice Addiction set up several tables in the Gaming room, with a variety of demos available. Joss knew the basics of playing Yu-Gi-Oh, but had never played a game in-person. The volunteer was very patient explaining the game and helping him figure out what to do. And the person he played against was kind as well.
At the end of the game, he even got to take home the Yu-Gi-Oh cards he’d been using!
We spoke with someone about Warhammer for awhile, too, but didn’t do a demo, as we were short on time. And it’s kind of a pricey game to get into! But everyone we spoke to was great at explaining things and you could tell they really loved their hobbies and the community they’ve found through them.
The main reason we ended up going to all three days of Tokyo, OK was the Pokémon tournament. The tournament was held Sunday afternoon. However, to participate, you first had to battle at four “gyms,” which were set up at the various venues. On Friday night, we battled at two gyms. We returned Saturday for the next two.
After we’d finished all four battles (all of which Joss won), we turned in our gym “passport” and were entered in Sunday’s tournament. The tournament and gym battles were all free (well, with your Tokyo, OK admission). Plus, you got to choose a mini-deck to battle with – and take home at the end of everything.
On Sunday, we showed up a few minutes before the official tournament began. I think they said there were about 23 people signed up, so not too many. I was so proud of Joss, who was the youngest entrant. But he wasn’t afraid to sit down and battle people 7+ years older than him.
Unfortunately, he lost his first two battles. Sometimes, you just don’t get the cards you need! He did win the third battle, but then we had to leave because we had company visiting. Before we left, they gave us a free Pokémon card deck for participating!
By the way, I just wrote a blog post all about ways to engage with Pokémon, particularly in Tulsa. Dice Addiction hosts a Sunday afternoon Pokémon event. It starts at 3 p.m., but people show up early to socialize. The man who judged the tournament is the official “Pokémon Professor” and can help new visitors get involved.
A quick note about parking/transportation:
Tokyo, OK was set up across three venues downtown, including the Hyatt and Cox Business Center. Buses ran between all three locations every 15 minutes. We never had a problem getting on the bus, but we did see some long-ish lines a couple times. We also never had an issue parking downtown. Friday, we parked on 3rd Street across from the PAC. Saturday, we parked on 7th Street across from Denver, which was right between the Cox Business Center and 17 West Hotel, the third venue. There were plenty of open spaces. I think some people would really like the event to all be located in one place, which would certainly be nice and more accessible. But for his part, Joss wanted to ride the bus as often as possible.
We showed up a little too early on Saturday for our Pokémon gym battle, so took advantage of the extra time to grab lunch at Joss’s favorite, Roppongi, which was just two blocks from the venue. There were definitely some other Tokyo, OK-goers there!
All in all, we had a wonderful time at this year’s Tokyo, OK event! I was surprised we spent so much time there, but it was really fun to experience a different aspect of the con beyond just the shopping rooms. And I loved seeing Joss’s enthusiasm for everything. A huge thanks to the organizers (both for a great event and the media passes!), and to Dice Addiction for providing so many of our favorite activities.