The crux of the government’s “Cool Japan” initiative to promote Japanese culture overseas mostly hangs on anime, and this weekend a major anime-based event takes place in Tokyo.

The Tokyo International Anime Fair will take place at Big Sight in the capital’s Odaiba district. Doors open to the public on Saturday and Sunday. Expect numerous booths, entertainment, colorful characters and long lines.

The trade fair brings together fans, artists and industry representatives (the latter of whom will mostly attend in advance when the event is invitation only). The organizers boast that this is the biggest anime fair in the world and the hundreds of exhibitors scheduled to be there will include such renowned production companies as Toei Animation, Tezuka Productions and Studio Ghibli. The companies will give out information on upcoming releases, but just walking among the crowd can make for some interesting entertainment as well.

One highlight comes with the announcement of the winner of the Tokyo Anime Award on March 23. Commercial and amateur entries will compete in two separate categories, with the noncommercial works hopefully offering a look into the future of animation.

Most of the main events, including the awards ceremony, will be held on the big stage. Those with children can enjoy dancing and singing performances on the kids’ stage. There will also be an “Overseas Room” that will provide information in English.

The Tokyo International Anime Fair 2013 takes place at Tokyo Big Sight in Koto-ku, Tokyo, from March 21-24 and is open to the public on March 23 and 24 from 7 a.m. Tickets are ¥1,000 at the door (there will be discounts for junior and senior high school students). For more information, visit www.bigsight.jp or www.tokyoanime.jp.

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