South Florida is not exactly at hotbed of Japanese culture except for at one spot, the Morikami Museum and Gardens in Palm Beach County. The museum is located on the land where, in 1904, a Japanese American organized a group of pioneering Japanese farmers and lead them to Boca Raton where they formed a farming colony they named Yamato, an ancient name for Japan. It was not a success and the farmers eventually went back to Japan. In 1977, a museum and gardens were opened in the same spot to celebrate Japanese culture. It is a unique treasure for the area and if you are ever down here, you should absolutely check it out.
This weekend, we headed to the Hatsume Fair at the Morikami. Hatsume is a once-a-year weekend festival celebrating spring. The $15 festival ticket not only granted access to the gardens but also a Japanese food street fair, art and merchandise booths and demonstrations of dancing, martial arts,and taiko drumming.
An added bonus to the festivities was that there was a cosplay contest and I'd say about half of the people that I saw during the day there were dressed up in costumes featuring their favorite Japanese anime characters, not one of whom I recognized. (I don't know the first thing about anime). Regardless it was sort of surreal walking about the magnificent gardens following people with blue hair and horns. No, old Japolina did not dress up but I made lots of new friends who did...
|These were some new friends we came across at Hatsume!|
The festival was quite interesting and a great way to spend an afternoon. If you go today (or next year) here are my tips:
1. Go early, like when it opens early. We got there at 11:45 (it opened at 11) and it was very already crowded. By the time we left, the lines to get in were really, really long.
2. Take the kids. It really did not feel that we were in Florida
3. If you are into wearing a costume, go for it.
4. Bring cash. The food was expensive but trying mochi ice cream was worth it!
5. Bring sunscreen. This is sort of a given for any SoFla adventure, however it was quite hot. Summer is here!
6. Bring a good camera. The photos on the blog today are courtesy of my son. He got some great shots and was glad that he schlepped along the good camera, rather than the usual cell phone one!