2019 Recommended Tanabata (Star Festival) Events
This post is also available in 日本語
In Japan, we celebrate Tanabata (“The Star Festival”) on or around July 7th or August 7th. This is a festival in which we tie a “Tanzaku” containing our wishes to bamboo branches and make a wish to the stars. A number of different “Tanabata festivals” are held in Japan.
On this occasion, we shall introduce you to some Tanabata festival events that you should definitely check out!
Tanabata in Japan
Tanabata in Japan is a custom passed down from China. It is one of the same “Gosekku” as the “Momo-no-sekku” of March 3rd, and “Tango-no-sekku” of May 5th, and is used to celebrate the changing of the seasons.
Of course the “Orihime Vega” and “Hikoboshi Altair” traditions are also famous.
Sendai Tanabata festival (Miyagi)
The largest Tanabata festival in Japan is the “Sendai Tanabata festival”. Subtle Japanese paper decorations overlapping and swaying in the wind on a fine day make a truly wonderful view. More than 2 million spectators gather every year. The content of the decorations is kept a secret until the final day, and the adornment starts from the morning of August 6th.
The “Sendai Tanabata fireworks festival” in which 16,000 fireworks light up the sky is also very famous. This is held the night before the festival. This is a magical night event in which bamboo lanterns light up the Zuihoden Temple, which deifies Masamune Date.
In the Sendai Tanabata festival, there are decorations with small items known as the “seven decorations” representing various wishes. The seven decorations each have their own various meanings with strips representing study, paper garments representing protective charms, folded cranes representing safety in the home, and purses representing business prosperity. The means of making these is described on an official site. They even have an English page. If you cannot go out, why not try making them in the home?
Location: The central area of Sendai City or neighboring shopping streets
Period: 8/6 (Tue) to 8/8 (Thu)
Time: 10:00 to 21:00 (Planned)
50th Sendai Tanabata Fireworks Festival
Near Sendai-Nishi Park
Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (Kanagawa)
The “Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival” is said to be the most flamboyant Tanabata Festival in Japan and is considered one of the three great Tanabata festivals in Japan. The main venue for this is the “Shonan Star Mall” and the bamboo decorations, rich in pageantry, fill the streets. It boasts crowds of more than 1.4 million people every year.
Its main feature is the lineup of decorations celebrating trends and world affairs, including currently active sports people, popular animals and characters. This includes huge decorations that exceed 10m.
There are numerous flamboyant events, such as the “Tanabata-odori Sennin Parade, totaling 1,000 people, and the “Orihime and music parade”, which you can enjoy with both your eyes and ears. At night, the decorative illuminations light up the bamboo decorations, and you can enjoy an atmosphere different to the one you find during the day.
Location: All areas in the town but centering on the shopping street at the North Exit of JR Hiratsuka Station (Beniyacho, Hiratsuka City)
Period: 7/5(Fri) to 7/7(Sun)
Times: Until 21:00 (Until 20:00 on 7/7)
Mobara Tanabata Festival (Chiba)
The “Mobara Tanabata Festival”, famous as one of the largest summer festivals in Kanto, is a major event for the Chiba summer. The colorful and flamboyant Tanabata decorations line the streets of the shopping streets near the station, and more it bustles with more than 800,000 people.
With the “Mobara Awa Odori”, a total of close to 1,000 dancers fill the streets, and there are numerous events filled with vitality, such as “YOSAKOI Natsu-no-jin” that will give make a lasting impression on you.
When night falls, on the Toyodagawa River, known as “Amanogawa” (Milky Way), the “Amanogawa Candle Night” is held. Candles are lit to represent the wishes of the visitors, and the sight of approximately 2,000 candles is truly magical.
Location: Shopping street near Mobara Station (Takashi, Mobara City, Chiba)
Period: 7/26(Fri) to 7/28(Sun)
Times: 10:00-21:00 (Until 20:00 on 7/28)
Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival (Aichi)
Ichinomiya City in Aichi is an area where the textile industry has flourished. The “Orimono Kanshasai (Thanks for Textiles) Ichinomiya Tanabata Festival”, held in connection with Orihime and Hikoboshi, which have a deep connection with the textile industry, is the largest summer event among Ichinomiya citizens.
The flamboyancy and pageantry of the “Fukinagashi decorations” and large-scale hanging decorations at Owari Ichinomiya Station and within Masumida Shrine, rival Sendai and Hiratsuka festivals with over 1.3 million people attending. The “Elementary/Junior-High Creation Tanabata Decorations” are also a sight to behold.
There are a wide variety of events, such as “Jinrikisha Tanabata Dochu” with Miss Tanabata and Miss Orimono and the “Onzohoken Daigyoretsu” parade stretching out 300m offering woolen items to the shrine.
In recent years, the “Costume Play Parade” held on the final day of the festival, is a popular event at which “costume players” gather from all around the country.
Location: Honmachi shopping street, Ichinomiya (1 to 3 Honmachi , Ichinomiya City), Meitetsu Owari Ichinomiya Station (1-1-1 Shinsei, Ichinomiya City)
Period: 7/25(Thu) to 7/28(Sun)
Times: 7/25 18:30-21:00, 7/26-7/28 10:00-21:00