When you think “largest attended WordCamps” – what cities do you think of? San Francisco? Phoenix? Miami? How about Japan? This past weekend (on September 14th) WordCamp Tokyo rocked the house with over 1,100 attendees! That’s no typo. That’s about two large WordCamps (at least from the United States) put together! Not only that but this year marked the 6th annual WordCamp in the Metropolitan Tokyo area (including one in Yokohama, 2010) – which would also make it one of the longer running WordCamps.
To get a good idea of how everything went that Saturday, I had a pleasure of touching base with Naoko Takano, one of the organizers of WordCamp Tokyo. For starters, what improvements or changes were made compared to last year’s event? “This year, we included more sessions for contributing to WordPress.” Naoko related. “So talks focused on the Codex, forums, how to start meetups, and so forth.” I also asked about how you make a WordCamp of this size (and in Japan) unique. “This is the second year we’ve held WordCamp Tokyo along with another PHP conference. Even though it’s a relatively large WordCamp, we try to make it very community oriented and not too commercial.”
WordCamp Tokyo went to great lengths to ensure attendees don’t feel left behind in the community and to make them feel welcome and involved. To that end, there many “games” and interactive sessions were included throughout the day. For starters, there was a WordPress Typing Game (here’s a link explaining it in detail) that was immediately fun. There was also a photo booth (you can tell just by looking at the photos how popular that was) and “WordPress Karuta” (a type of card game) which was not only entertaining but also educational.
This WordCamp didn’t disappoint in the swag department either. A unique aspect of this camp were the stickers – collecting series of stickers at sponsor booth to win a t-shirt, special sticker or set of Karuta game cards. There were even stickers of Wapuu, which is the Japanese WordPress mascot! Yep, Japan has a WordPress mascot.
A great line of speakers helped make the event more memorable. There was a variety of fantastic local speakers – and there also some that traveled from great distances to attend. Among those out-of-town speakers was Konstantin Obenland – Theme Wrangler at Automattic and WordPress Core Contributor.
One of the many unique things about this particular WordCamp is that it is completely free, with expenses of the event offset by sponsors and other means. To accommodate an event of this size, one has to imagine a formable volunteer force. Thankfully, WordCamp Tokyo had over 100 volunteers that day, with half that number actually acting as nearly full time organizing team members.
So after all the planning and all the efforts made for attendees to feel welcome and able to contribute, I asked Naoko what the most rewarding parts of WordCamp Tokyo have been so far. “I’ve seen many new find new friends and business partners because of face-to-face events like WordCamps. This contributes to the growth of local communities because then people feel comfortable sharing information and working together. I love seeing people building great relationships in WordPress community.”
Sessions were recorded and should be available on WordPress.tv in the coming weeks!