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Tanabata Time: When & Where to Celebrate the Star Festival
As we mentioned in our article "Summertime in Tokyo: What to Do," the annual Star Festival, or Tanabata, celebrates a celestial love story! Orihime and Hikoboshi, two gods represented by the stars Vega and Altair, are quite literally star-crossed lovers who are only able to meet once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month ("Tanabata" translates to "evening of the seventh") . Depending on which calendar is being used, this can mean, roughly, 7 July or 7 August.
To commemorate the occasion, people across Japan will write wishes or poetry on slips of paper (tanzaku) that they then tie to bamboo. Many areas around the country also have their own unique traditions. So if you're looking for an excuse to make a wish and have some fun, check out the below!
Saturday & Sunday
The festival technically runs from Thursday 4 July through Monday 8 July, but most of the festivities will take place this weekend. With motorbike processions, dance troupes and taiko, the main street around Asakasa and Ueno stations will be closed to traffic, making it easy to walk around and enjoy all the festival has to offer.
Tokyo Disney Resort Tanabata Days
Saturday & Sunday
We're sure your kids need no excuse for a trip to Disneyland, but the special Tanabata festivities could sweeten the pot for the rest of the family! With Mickey and Minnie taking on the roles of Hikoboshi and Orihime during twice-daily parades, a lovely light show at the Starlight Wishing Place and Tanabata-themed kakigori, a visit this weekend would be exceptionally fun.
Friday, Saturday & Sunday
Less than an hour's train ride outside of Tokyo, this festival in Hiratsuka City is one of the largest Tanabata celebrations in the country, with more than three million attendees expected. The streets are decorated with colorful streamers and crowded with hundreds of vendors selling delicious traditional festival foods.
Mobara Tanabata Festival
26 July -28 July
Another big festival, with nearly a million attendees, this celebration in Chiba features the traditional festival accoutrements, as well as an impressive parade of dance troupes performing Mobara Awa Dori. Additionally, there's an annual contest for best decoration!
At this popular festival in Saitama, more than 400,000 attendees not only enjoy traditional festival foods and colorful decorations, they are also treated to a stunning fireworks display - featuring 2,000 fireworks - over the river.
3 August - 7 August
If your kids like giant papier-mache animals, this is the Tanabata festival for them! Dozens are on display during Asagaya's celebration, available for all to enjoy within the local shotengai. As with any shotengai, you can also find plenty of shopping and delicious foods to enjoy while you take in the decorations.
Whether you celebrate this weekend or in August (or both!), CareFinder's community of qualified babysitters are here to help! Festivals are lots of fun for the whole family, but can often be very crowded and overwhelming; having a parent's helper on hand can go a long way in making the experience enjoyable. Find your sitter today!