Have you heard of Tanabata, the star festival in Japan? Let’s learn about the significance of Tanabata.
Japan celebrates Tanabata on July 7. This is when the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair) meet.
Wishing on a tanzaku
Tanzaku (短冊) is a long, narrow card on which Japanese poems are written.
During Tanabata, people write their wishes on thin strips of colorful paper and hang them on sasatake (small bamboo tree).
Bamboo is considered sacred as it has the potential to grow fast and stay strong. The sound of bamboo and tanzaku swishing in the wind, considered to be delivering your message to the Gods, is synonymous with summer in Japan.
If you’re visiting Japan during this time, why don’t you write down your wish too!
Where to write your wishes?
You can buy tanzaku anywhere during this week and many temples and shrines conduct tanabata celebrations!
Let’s check out the top three Tanabata festivals in Japan.
Sendai Tanabata Matsuri (仙台七夕まつり)
The Sendai Tanabata Matsuri is a festival said to have started since the times of Date Masamune, the ruling lord of Sendai at the beginning of the Edo period. The Sendai Tanbata Matsuri is major event drawing over 2 million visitors every year and is considered one of the top three festivals in the Tohoku region along with the Aomori Nebuta Matsuri and the Akita Kanto Matsuri. During the festival, around 3,000 bamboo marvelously colored bamboo decorations are placed all over the city to see which is the most glorious.
Dates for 2018: August 6 – 8
Please note this festival is not held on the actual day of Tanabata (July 7).
Official Website: https://www.sendaitanabata.com/en
On the 5th of August, there is also a display of fireworks from 19:00 – 20:30 by the Hirose river (広瀬川)!
More on Sendai Tanabata Matsuri
Anjo Tanabata Matsuri (安城七夕まつり)
The tanabata festival held in Anjo city of Aichi Prefecture is also famous.
Other than tanzaku, there is an event in which more than 3,000 “wish balloons” are released into the air.
Dates for 2018: August 3 – 5
Official Website: http://www.anjo-tanabata.jp/
Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri (湘南ひらつか七夕まつり)
The Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri is counted as one of the top three Tanabata Festivals in the Kanto area of Japan, whose magnificent Tanabata decorations are even called the best in Japan. 500 of the glorious bamboo decorations of the festival are placed around the center of town and in the main area you can find the “Shonan Star Mall,” and the “Beniya Pearl Road” on display in an area spanning hundreds of meters.
Dates for 2018 July 6 – 8
An easy day trip from Tokyo, Hiratsuka Station is about 60 minutes from Tokyo Station (JR Ueno Tokyo Line) and 65 min from Shinjuku Station (JR Shonan Shinjuku Line).
Official Website: http://www.tanabata-hiratsuka.com/
Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri (下町七夕まつり)
This festival is held on Kappabashi street from Asakusa to Ueno, close to Sensoji in Tokyo
You can get some beautiful shots with the Tokyo Skytree and the gorgeous colorful Tanabata decorations!
Dates for 2018: July 5 – 9
On July 7 – 8, the roads will be closed for vehicles so you can enjoy the celebrations without any worries!
You can write tanzaku at many spots on the street and savor some amazing festival street food too.
Official Website: http://shitamachi-tanabata.com/
Kyo no Tanabata (京の七夕)
You can enjoy Tanabata at different places in Kyoto including Nijo Castle and the Kamogawa River. Each location will transport you into a world of fantasy!
The duration varies but most of these festivals begin in August.
For further details, check the official website:
Do you plan on visiting any of these festivals? And if you do, don’t forget to write a wish!