A bisexually lit version of the classic OHAYOCON logo with vertical CRTV lines.


Ohayocon was founded in 2001 and has gone on to become the largest and most beloved Japanese culture and anime convention in the state of Ohio. What is unique and wholly special about Ohayocon is its makeup of passionate fans who come together to create not only a magical weekend with memories that are cherished for a lifetime but a community that is a welcoming safe space for all. Even just saying the name “Ohayocon” to anyone who has ever attended, elicits immediate mental images of stunning costumes, engaging panels, competitive gaming tournaments, vibrant screenings, hallways overflowing with smiles and laughter, and chosen family.

Ohayocon returned in person to Columbus, Ohio in 2022 and while it was a successful event in many regards, it was not without a myriad of challenges. As fandom saw conventions throughout North America cease operations, Ohayocon president Melissa Phelps sought a way to ensure that the beloved annual gathering could grow and thrive for decades to come even after she passed the baton. To do so, Ohayocon has made the transition from being a for-profit single weekend convention to a year-round non-profit entity known as the Cultural Exchange Society, Inc (CESI). Very little will change for the attendees of Ohayocon, but for the organization and convention as a whole the changes will be overwhelmingly positive! It will allow for the organization to receive grants to strengthen offerings, have sponsors and donors to support the mission, and to engage our community to keep that Ohayocon feeling going all year long.

Since the beginning, the backbone of Ohayocon has always been our volunteers, an ever-evolving group of experts and enthusiasts who come together to provide an exceptional experience for all of Ohayocon. We simply could not and would not be Ohayocon without them. Yet for too long, Ohayocon has overworked and underappreciated some of our most loyal volunteers simply due to the sheer volume of tasks and responsibilities. With the shift to a nonprofit status, CESI is elated that we will be able to bring on full time and seasonal staff that are paid and valued, independent contractors, provide stipends to key Senior Leadership Team volunteers, in addition to offering all of our phenomenal volunteers the perks and accommodations that they know and love to ensure that all of their time, talent, and treasure is valued.

In this exciting transition, CESI has planned to retire three unpaid positions and bring on an Executive Director, Convention Director, Attendee Experience Manager, and Volunteer Coordinator to ensure the convention’s continued success and CESI’s growth to a year-round institution. Any and all Ohayocon volunteers are encouraged to apply for these positions when they are posted to our website later this month. To aid in the transition and allow better board oversight, Melissa Phelps will be stepping down from the board and stepping into CESI’s first ever Executive Director role, allowing her to better pass the baton to the next generation of Ohayocon staff. While this position will provide direct support to CESI’s premiere program Ohayocon, the Executive Director will be primarily tasked with the year-round success of CESI beyond the annual convention.

Contrary to misinformation swirling online, NO volunteers or members of the Senior Leadership Team have been fired from Ohayocon and only three positions have been dissolved in the organizational chart shift. All past volunteers are invited to return for 2024, as Ohayocon would simply cease to exist without them. While CESI would love its Ohayocon volunteers to have the ability to unionize, National and Ohio State Labor Laws prevent unpaid volunteers of any kind from forming a union. As such, no Ohayocon union has ever or could ever exist, and no “union busting” has or even could take place. CESI encourages its volunteers to communicate to them all of their needs, wants, hopes, dreams, fears, and aspirations through individual correspondance or collective bargaining. Additional rumors of a “hostile takeover” from Phelps are not only untrue, but impossible as Phelps was and has been in charge of the event and cannot take it over from herself. As planned, Phelps has stepped down from the CESI Board of Directors to allow for greater oversight and organizational stewardship. To fill the board seat vacated by Phelps, CESI will be holding an election wherein volunteers will be able to elect representation to join the professionals on the Board of Directors to allow greater integration and transparency. CESI encourages all interested volunteers to stay tuned to our website for more details this month.

While those fabrications are simply not based in any reality, there is a rumor online that contains some truths, and that is regarding the Ohayocon logo. A well meaning volunteer, concerned with the similarities with Ohayocon’s longtime cross artwork and its similarities to that of the Red Cross, submitted our logo to them for review. The Red Cross determined that the logo was in fact too close to their trademarked Red Cross Emblem. As such, an agreement was made with the Red Cross in April of 2023 to shift Ohayocon’s logo’s color to shade of blue to avoid any further issues. Since then, a cyberpunk theme was proposed for Ohayocon 2024, and our longtime artists and designers at Studio Capsule set out to craft new annual art and a refreshed logo. A different well meaning volunteer crafted their own logo in the meantime and despite being instructed not to be the CESI Board of Directors, asked for approval from their peers and began posting it online. Unfortunately their wonderful design bares too close a resemblance to the logo of Sakura Color Products and its use would open CESI up to a potential second logo lawsuit in less than a year. Out of respect for Sakura of America and their 100+ year history, we must kindly ask that the interim sakura blossom logo be not used moving forward.

Ohayocon 2024 will take place January 19-21, 2024 at the Hyatt Regency Columbus & Greater Columbus Convention Center. This will be the second Ohayocon presented by parent organization CESI and our first with paid and valued staff in addition to our phenomenal volunteers who will continue to receive the perks and accommodations that they know and love and then some to ensure that all of their time, talent, and treasure is valued. We invite back tens of thousands of attendees and hundreds of volunteers to continue to form this remarkable convention and join us in not only spreading the joy of japanese culture and anime to Columbus, Ohio and beyond, but being a part of a decades old community of artists and enthusiasts, gamers and geeks, fans and funseekers, masqueraders and music lovers, and above all else passionate persons. Ohayocon is for everyone and CESI will continue to work with all of our dedicated volunteers to ensure that it is around for decades to come.

Hello everyone and welcome to September! We’re excited to give you all a number of updates!

We are proud to announce our official new logo!

Did you know there are Cherry Blossoms that bloom in the wintertime? This modern design symbolizes traditional Japanese culture and the spirit of rebirth — just like Ohayocon, your signifier of a whole new year of convention fun! Join us as we embrace this exciting change and look forward to 2024 and beyond!

Ohayocon 24 Guest Announcements!

Check out our newly announced fan guestsvoice actors and industry speakers who will be attending Ohayocon 24!

Indie Gaming Showcase Applications are Open!

If you’re interested in applying, please visit our Indie Gaming Showcase Exhibitor page for more information.

Upcoming Deadlines:

Panel applications close 10/31/23 — apply here

New Volunteer Applications close 12/31/23 — apply here

We’re less than half a year from Ohayocon 24 and we are SO excited! Check out our newest updates about Ohayocon 24 below:

  • Our Hyatt Regency Hotel Block is now officially open! Use group code G-OC24 to reserve your spot, or head to this link to complete your booking.
  • Pre-Registration is still live! Our best pre-reg pricing of the year ends in just three hours! Tomorrow’s pricing will increase to $65 for the full weekend and remain at that price until the end of August. Register Here.
  • Panel applications are still open! Potential panelists have until October 31st to submit their panels for Ohayocon 24. Submit a panel here.

Be on the lookout for more updates from us soon!

We at Ohayocon are pleased to provide important updates to our mask and vaccination policies for our upcoming event. As the COVID-19 situation evolves and vaccination rates increase, Ohayocon has decided to remove both the mask mandate and vaccination requirement for all attendees. We strongly encourage all participants who are able to get vaccinated to prioritize the safety and well-being of our community.

With the removal of the mask mandate, attendees will have the freedom to choose whether to wear masks or not. While masks will not be obligatory, we wholeheartedly recommend continued usage as a responsible precaution. While we’re no longer requiring masks or vaccinations, we urge our attendees to make informed decisions and consider the well-being of others during the convention.

Furthermore, Ohayocon remains committed to fostering a respectful and inclusive environment for everyone. Harassing fellow convention attendees regarding their vaccination status or mask choices will be considered a violation of our harassment policy, leading to appropriate consequences.

As always, Ohayocon will implement enhanced cleaning and sanitation measures to maintain a safe and enjoyable environment for all participants.

For the latest event updates and guidelines, please visit our website and follow our social media channels.

Mark your calendars and don your high-tech shades, because we’re thrilled to announce that Ohayocon 24 will be held from January 19th to 21st! Our grand adventure begins with a mind-blowing kickoff party on January 18th exclusively for our pre-registered attendees. Get ready to dive headfirst into a world of thrilling technology, glitchy holograms, and rebellious fashion choices, because the theme for Ohayocon 24 is none other than CYBERPUNK!

But wait, there’s more! We’ve just cracked open the vaults, and Panel Applications and Vendor Applications are now LIVE! If you’ve got knowledge to share or goods to peddle that belong in the world of tomorrow, we want to hear from you.

Vendors please apply for our 2024 Dealer’s Room here.

Panelists please apply here.

Stay plugged into our website and social channels for more updates on registration, hotel blocks, guest announcements, and mind-boggling surprises coming soon!

Ohayocon is seeking a Director of Volunteer Services to join its growing team. The Director of Volunteer Services will be responsible for developing and implementing strategies to recruit, train, manage and retain volunteers to support the Ohayocon event. This is a full-time position.

A full description of the role is available here.

Interested applicants: please email ConventionDirector@Ohayocon.org with subject, “Volunteer Services Director Application.” Include information about your convention experience, work experience, and relevant education. A formal résumé would be welcome.

Applications close Saturday April 22nd, 2023.

Hi everyone! We’re getting so excited for this year’s Ohayocon! Just 11 days! We’ve got a few updates to help everyone get ready to have fun at Ohayocon 23!

Programming Schedule:

The programming schedule is now live! Take a look to plan out what panels, events and photoshoots you’d like to attend!

Special Guests

Our wonderful fan guests, featured panelists, voice actors and industry speakers who will be attending this year have been announced on social media and our website. 


Ten more days to pre-register for Ohayocon 23 at our $80 price! Thursday 1/19 that price will increase to $85, with online registration closing on Sunday 1/22. Want/need to register at the door? We’re thrilled to announce we will be taking credit cards at registration this year! 

Accessibility Services

Our main Accessibility Services booth will be right next to Registration in A-Pod of the Greater Columbus Convention Center. There will be a separate registration line for those registered with Accessibility Services and you’ll be able to ask our Accessibility Team any questions you may have about the bevy of services offered, including wheelchairs, guides, ASL interpreters, and other amenities by request. If you would like to use this service, please contact accessibility@ohayocon.org to get started!

We can’t wait to see you all soon!

Only 72 days until Ohayocon 23—we’re so excited to see you all in person!

PC Gaming tournament applications are now open

This year we’re accepting applications for the following tournaments: League of Legends, Rocket League, Valorant, ARAM, Overwatch 2, Hearthstone, and Teamfight Tactics. For information on how to register, please visit our PC Gaming page here.

Kpop/Jpop dance competition applications are open

Get ready to dance your heart out at Ohayocon 23’s Kpop/Jpop dance competition! Act fast, as applications are due 12/10/2022. Find out more and register here!

New room block available in the Drury Inn & Suites

To book a room in our new room block, please use the Ohayocon 23 group code: 10008278 or use our booking link here.

We’re looking for a Program Guide Editor to join our marketing team

Primary responsibilities would include managing and designing production of Ohayocon’s yearly program guide, and developing relationships with service vendors. Position details and application instructions are available here.