Tanabata festival is one of the Japanese traditional festivals that are held every summer. Tanabata festival that is also well known as ‘star festival’ originally comes from Chinese “Qixi” festival. The date of this festival varies among the regions of the country. The festival usually held between July 7 – August 7 every year.
Tanabata festival is celebrated very lively all over the country every year. How is this festival celebrated differently in each cities? Let’s compare Tanabata festival celebrations in Tokyo, Osaka and Sendai.
In Tokyo, several places such as Daijingu shrine, Kanda Myojin shrine, and Zojo-ji temple celebrate Tanabata by holding Tanabata-Matsuri festival and Tanabata Kigan-sai ceremony. Normally, Tokyo celebrates Tanabata festival from July 1st – July 7th. During this festival, decorations, floaters, food stalls and parades can be seen everywhere in this city.
Tokyo Disneyland also celebrates this event. The visitors are getting a piece of paper to write their wish on, and the group of Mickey, Minnie, and the gang, hang those wishes on the bamboo tree. There is also a marching band playing the traditional Tanabata song in honour the day. During this event, Mickey and Minnie are also riding rickshaws.
In Osaka, a bamboo grass tunnel and artificial milky way come together beautifully in Shitennoji temple. This temple is Japan’s first and the oldest Buddhist temple. Normally, the event is held from 7th of July until 10th of July. The beautiful LED lamps along the milky way make the picture wonderful. The bamboo grass tunnel is also decorated with Tanzaku, the pieces of paper to write a wish on. On the 10th, the Tanzaku are burned in Shitennoji. There are also some events held here including concert, lectures related to the festival and astronomical viewing session.
Another celebration of Tanabata in Osaka is a festival along Ohkawa river. Around 50,000 blue lights are floating in this river. This makes the river glow with blue, imitating milky way.
Sendai Tanabata festival is know as the biggest Tanabata festival in Japan, with 400 years of history. The Sendai Tanabata Matsuri is normally held between August 6-8. It takes place throughout Sendai with the main features being thousands of colorful streamers that are displayed in every corner, usually in the shopping arcades. Besides the streamers, there are also paper cranes, paper strips, purses, nets, bags and paper kimonos being displayed everywhere. All those seven different kinds of decoration represent different meanings.