If you've been reading manga or watching anime in the last two decades, then you probably know about the 異世界 isekai genre. Popularized by works such as Sword Art Online, KonoSuba: God's Blessing on this Wonderful World!, Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, these works feature a protagonist who somehow gets transported into an alternate world.

Since these worlds are predominantly of the fantasy variety, featuring magic, monsters, and world designs often inspired by medieval history (although sometimes adding technology and steampunk elements), and since the genre has become so popular, for many people, the term isekai has become a synonym for "fantasy."

As can be expected with a popular genre, it has a healthy number of creators who explore it in their own way. This is not limited to doujin manga and fan art, but also all manner of accessories, replica weapons, interior decorative objects, apparel, and much more.

So, although you can't actually visit an isekai (until someone actually discovers a portal), this abundance of creators means you can equip yourself for one!

The "Isekai Market"

If you think it might be a hassle to find all the individual creators to equip yourself and your environment, there's good news. Japan has an "Isekai Market" and an amazing array of handmade items, ranging from "magic books, steampunk goods, artificial flowers, gemstones, lamps, candles, leather items, stormglasses, fashion, decorative items, magic tools, accessories, and art."

The most recent edition of the "Isekai Market," called "Isekai Market 70-oku-no-page" 異世界まぁけっと70億のpage (7 billion pages) and organized by Majo no Cocoro (@majo_co_co), was held in a stunning location, the Royal Chester Maebashi ロイヤルチェスター前橋 in Gunma Prefecture, which looks like a castle and is mainly used for weddings and other special private occasions. The venue was a perfect match for the event, featuring areas that recreated the mood of a "guild hall."

"Isekai Market" captured by Shimesaba

Just scrolling through the images of all the interesting DIY creations and booths—not to mention the participants in amazing original costumes—shared on the event's Twitter account and at the hashtag #異世界まぁけっと will give you a sense of the event's charms.

However, those charms were highlighted spectacularly thanks to the talented photography of しめ鯖 Shimesaba (@zz_saba). Some of our readers may recall his stunning photography in our articles on the fantastical palanquins at Tokyo University of the Arts’ “Geisai” Festival or a parade of Japanese folklore spirits and demons.

Shimesaba travels the world under the doujin group 幽玄一人旅団 Yūgen Hitori Ryodan (Mysterious One-Man Brigade), capturing scenes and landscapes which look like they were lifted from video games, then sells these photos in a book series called "Distant Worlds."

His images from the "Isekai Market" do an admirable job of conveying the isekai mood as well as the mystery and otherworldliness of the event, as you can see below:

"I suppose it is a stereotype that DIY craft exhibitions are held in exhibition rooms or exhibition halls... I think it was an unprecedented idea to rent out a wedding hall and use it as a guildhall for an exhibition and photo shooting event. The synergy of the event and the ambiance (of the venue) is amazing."

Reproduced with permission from しめ鯖 Shimesaba (@zz_saba)

Featured: Himenekotei (@himenekotei) and model 姫宮らん Himemiya Ran (@himemiya_ran) seen from behind, shop by handmano (@handmano)

He also posted an additional image focusing on creator 景虎 AtlasCode's (@favofac_orig) booth:

Reproduced with permission from しめ鯖 Shimesaba (@zz_saba)

You can enjoy more of Shimesaba's amazing photography on his Twitter account and buy his Distant Worlds book series, as indicated above.

As for all you isekai adventurers, stay tuned for the next Isekai Market to be held at the same venue on June 18th, 2022! Follow their account below for updates:

By - Ben K.