Spring is in the air, which means the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is bringing out a heavy dose of the taiko drums, anime and cosplay to celebrate the first bud of the new season at the thirty-fifth annual Hatsume Fair on March 29-30. The much-anticipated yearly festival transforms the normally contemplative and serene gardens into a raucous good time, where taiko drums rumble from stage, anime characters wander the solitude of the Zen gardens and audiences marvel at martial arts performances from local dojos.
Like years past, the Morikami will feature three stages (Tokyo, Osaka and Pikachu), and offerings In the Gardens, each bringing a different element to the festival:
- On the Tokyo Stage, the ever-popular taiko drumming will rumble the air as the apt hands of Ronin Taiko and the Wadaiko Academy, and Fushu Daiko helm the skins. A special interactive performance will be held both days at 12 p.m.
- The Osaka Stage will bring an array of martial arts performances from nine local dojos, demonstrating the delicate balance of inner peace and physical strength. Performances begin at noon and run every hour on the hour until 4 p.m.
- Visitors who have an inner Pokeman just waiting to get out will want to head to the Pikachu Stage. Somewhat of a hybrid, the Pikachu Stage will not just be an anime-dominated arena, but also serve as a venue for sake-curious to explore the depths of the rice-based spirit with Sake 101 presentations on both Saturday and Sunday at 1 and 3 p.m. Led by Richard Priest of Kikusui Brewery, a Sake brewery with more than 130 years of tradition, the presentation delves into the history of Sake, its cultural significance and the recipe for enjoying Sake at its best. For a dose of fun, Pikachu will transform in the late afternoons for a dose of cosplay and fashion knowhow. The Morikami’s much-loved cosplay costume contest will take the stage on Saturday, March 29 at 4 p.m., letting guests strut their anime stuff on the catwalk. On Sunday, March 30 at 4 p.m., the second annual fashion show will take the stage, with participants dressing in their finest Harajuku style fashion, from traditional kimono to gothic Lolita-inspired dress.
- Interested in bringing a little Zen to your home garden? Japanese Gardens 101 seminars will be held on both Saturday and Sunday at noon In the Gardens, while open-air tea ceremony demonstrations will take place at 12:45 p.m. and 3:45 p.m.
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. The Morikami Theatre will be transformed into an arcade, featuring video games from old-school classics like PacMan and Galaga to over-active Dance Dance Revolution and more. Animate yourself with a Morikami-inspired portrait at the caricature station, while the Morikami’s version of a Hanami Hill—flower viewing—will transform the picnic area with a handcrafted display of kirigami cherry blossoms, allowing guests to make and take home their own origami blossoms.
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 an array of food vendors will serve up pan-Asian and American treats on site.
- The thirty-fifth annual Hatsume Fair will be held March 29-30 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
- Tickets cost $15 per adult, $10 per child at the gate.
- For more information or to purchase tickets, visit morikami.org.