A Springtime Tradition: Morikami’s Hatsume Fair

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens - Hatsume Festival - cosplay, anime, Harajuku fashionFor those living in Delray Beach, spring officially arrives when cosplayers takeover the Morikami for the annual Hatsume Fair. The springtime tradition will transform the Morikami’s serene setting on April 16-17 for its thirty-seventh installment, making for one of the best parties of the year. For those who have never been to the garden’s largest and most popular event, Hatsume has it all: Anime characters literally roam the garden, thundering taiko drums offer a rhythmic soundtrack, feats of strength and dexterity are tested at martial arts demonstrations, and faraway tastes are brought to local foodies with sake tastings and a range of Japanese street fair food.

The Hatsume Fair will run April 16-17 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Costume Contest will start at 5 p.m. on Satruday, April 16, on the Tokyo Stage. The Fashion Show will wrap the Hatsume Fair on Sunday, April 17 at 5 p.m., on the Tokyo Stage.

  • Tickets cost $15 for adults, $10 for children. For more information, visit morikami.org.

The garden-wide party is anchored by three hubs, or stages (Tokyo, Kyoto, and Miyazu), which host an array of events, demonstrations, and concerts.

taiko drums at the 34th annual Hatsume Fair - Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens - anime, cosplay, spring festival, haikuOn the Tokyo Stage, the ever-popular taiko drumming will rumble the air with Ronin Taiko on Saturday (11:30 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:45 p.m.), and Fushu Daiko helming the skins on Sunday (11:30 a.m., 1:15 p.m., 2:45 p.m.). A special interactive show will be held on both days at the 11:30 a.m. performance.

The Kyoto Stage will present an array of martial arts performances from nine local dojos, demonstrating the delicate balance of inner peace and physical strength. Performances begin at 11:15 a.m. and run hourly through 5:30 p.m. This year an added dose of danger is in play with Samurai sword-fighting performances taking place at 12:15 and 4:30 p.m. on both days, while Samurai Boot Camp (2 p.m. on Saturday; 3:30 p.m. on Sunday) will get the audience up and active.

The Miyazu Stage will offer a look at the more serene with two new offerings this year: Japanese dance performances with Satomi Hirano and koto performer Yoshiko Carlton, 12 and 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday; and at 1:30 and 4:45 p.m., both days, Sogetsu Ikebana demonstrations will give audience members a chance to watch the intricate art of contemporary Japanese flower arranging. If bonsai is more your style, a dedicated tent to the art of miniature trees will offer demonstrations and an array of the tiny trees on display.

   As for continuous Hatsume offerings, visitors can take home some Japanese culture at the Hatsume Marketplace, which will feature arts and crafts booths, anime dealers, and bonsai and plant sales. An Art Wall, located near the Anime Tent, will give visitors a chance to express their inner doddle, adding it to the larger 2016 Hatsume zeitgeist. If you’re donning your best cosplay duds, the Morikami has a rare opportunity to immortalize your look. Located in the museum, guests can have a digital body scan taken so that a 3D printed figurine can be produced—how cool is that?.

Morikami Museum & Japanese Garden - Hatsume Fair 2016   For food and drink, the Kirin beer garden will serve all the best Japanese brews, the Sake Station will pour hot and cold options, the Cornell Café will be open with an abridged a la carte menu (sushi anyone?), and the festival food vendors will be serving an array of an-Asian and American treats on site.

   But of all the activities happening on the weekend, the most eye catching is that of the Costume Contest and Fashion Show. Brandishing their cosplay best on the Tokyo Stage, contestants dress to the nines as their favorite anime, video game, television, and movie characters in the costume contest on Satruday, April 16 at 5 p.m.; while the fashion show spotlights Japanese street fashion, showcasing not just contestants’ creative abilities, but fashionable sensibilities on Sunday, April 17 at 5 p.m.

   The Fashion Show has quickly become a Hatsume favorite, with judges choosing the best from a range of categories, like Best Lolita Sugar (Sweet, Classic and Kodona), Lolita Spice (Gothic and Punk), Decora, Steampunk, and Roji-en, which is Morikami specific. But what does this all mean? To help ease you through these costumed waters, we have a short fashion breakdown on page two.


One of the more popular, and recognizable fashion subcultures is that of Lolita. Loosely based on Victorian-era clothing, Lolita fashion has evolved over the years to include a number of variations, including Classic, Sugar, Gothic, and Punk. And though each look varies depending on the wearer, at its core, there are similarities: A knee length, hoop-like dress or skirt acts as a base, which is often adorned with petticoats, corsets, blouses, knee-high socks or stockings, and headdresses. But as with all fashion, dress is open to personal influence; this is mainly just a common undercurrent.

Gothic Lolita - Japanese Street Fashion

An example of Gothic Lolita street fashion.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

   When it comes to Lolita subcultures, the Morikami’s costume contest will focus on Sweet, Classic, and Kodona under the Sugar category; and Gothic and Punk within the Spice category:

  • As the name implies, Classic Lolita follows pretty closely to its Victorian roots, with a more mature style, classic a-lines and muted colors.
  • Sweet Lolita plays off the classic troupes, while bringing in a dose of fantasy. Bright colors and a childlike motif are the norm, while themes of baby animals, candy, and fairytales are common throughout the look. As for accessories, large bows, purses, stuffed animals, and parasols are common—all with a hint of pink and pastels, of course.
  • Kodona is a more masculine version of Lolita, opting for “Prince pants” (essentially capri pants), masculine shirts, top hats, and the like.
  • Gothic Lolita (right) merges Goth fashion and Lolita sentiments for a moodier look. Dark colors, lace, bonnets, and parasols are all common, while make-up tends to be darker though natural.
  • Punk Lolita gives a little punk rock influence to the mix. For this look, lolitas are trading in much of the Victorian-inspired accessories for something with a little edge, donning boots or oxfords, screen-printed tees, and plaid just to name a few.


Breaking from the Victorian-inspired Lolita look, Decora is all about layers—lots and lots of layers. This version of street fashion piles on the accessories, from bows and berets on the wearers bangs, to bangles, baubles, and plastic necklaces and bracelets piled on the wrists and neck. And don’t forget leg warmers and knee socks, or that dental/medical mask decorated to the nines.

Steampunk fashion

Stempunk fashion

Photo courtesy of KyleCassidy/Wikimedia Commons


The Steampunk (right) category breaks from the Japanese street fashion genres, opting for the subgenre of science fiction that embraces the aesthetic and technology of steam-powered machinery from the 19th-century. For this look, expect open cogs and gears, metal and copper, top hats, waistcoats and tailcoats, corsets, gowns, and petticoats.


The final category of the Hatsume Fashion Show takes on a Morikami theme with Roji-en. Using the Morikami’s six gardens, collectively named Roji-en: Garden of the Drops of Dew, as inspiration, fashion show contestants have been asked to create an original outfit that embraces the Roji-en aesthetic.




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