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Go, go, Hatsume!

If the idea of bounding onstage in a Pikachu costume and singing the theme song to "Sailor Moon" this weekend at the Morikami Museum's Hatsume Fair sounds daunting, well, we hear you. And so does the Morikami, whose new anime karaoke will debut on a stage not far from a Kirin Ichiban beer garden and a sake station slinging the right brand of liquid courage.

Better yet, follow the advice of Hatsume Fair organizer Samantha Levine. "You're in good company. This is a real warm and encouraging group. It's a really special weekend," she says with a laugh, shrugging off any suggestion of "embarrassment" that may come when full-grown adults cosplay as long-eared Japanese creatures. "There's no pressure. You're already in character, so it's a state of anonymity. It's all the music anime enthusiasts know and love."

The art of celebrating anime has fast become a staple at the Hatsume Fair, marking its 34th edition Saturday and Sunday at the Morikami in Delray Beach, Levine says. Ever since the festival started its popular costume contest five years earlier, with a host of characters such as Godzilla strutting onstage, anime vendors have wanted in on Hatsume.

Nearly two dozen anime-centric booths and dealers are set up for the festival, which celebrates the onset of spring, including Lauderhill's Tate's Comics. Also debuting is an anime fashion show, featuring costumers garbed in their best gothic Lolita-, kimono- and harajuku-inspired wear.

Elsewhere, festivalgoers can climb the Morikami's Haname Hill for an afternoon picnic and viewing of Japanese cherry blossoms. Visitors can hand-craft the cherry blossoms during a kirigami activity, an origami variant that involves scissor-cut crafts. Among the food vendors, Levine says, is Candy Miyuki, of Disney World's Epcot Japan Pavillion, who creates candy art.

Onstage, the taiko-drumming groups Ronin Taiko and Fushu Daiko will perform on both days, as will martial-arts demonstrators from a local dojo. Families can write poetry on the Morikami Haiku Wall and greet a "cuddly robotic seal" named Paro inside the museum.

"It has these long eyelashes, and it's adorable," Levine says. "It makes noises and kind of purrs and squeals, and it's really amazing."

The 34th annual Hatsume Fair runs 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 23, and Sunday, March 24, at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, 4000 Morikami Park Road, in Delray Beach. Tickets cost $6-$12 in advance or $10-$15 at the door. Call 561-495-0233 or go to

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