Sendai Tanabata Festival

AUGUST 13, 2022


Sendai Tanabata Festival

Tanabata Festival is one of the festivals in Japan, originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival. In both festivals, the theme is the same: the reunification of long-separated lovers. In the Japanese version, they are Orihime and Hikoboshi, who could only meet once a year

Of course, just like every other legend and folklore, the festival skewed from its original intention and thus slightly different interpretations arose as time passed. For instance, in present-day Japanese people would write their wishes and hang them on bamboo, praying that the wishes would come true — which may or may not have a connection to the original story.

Nevertheless, people enjoy such celebrations. In some regions, Tanabata Festival is celebrated grandly where the whole city would be engulfed in the many colors of Tanabata decorations and music would be echoing everywhere. Sendai is one of those cities. In fact, Sendai Tanabata Festival is regarded as one of the biggest Tanabata festivals in Japan.

Tanabata Festivities in Sendai

Unlike other parts of Japan that celebrate Tanabata every year on July 7, Tanabata in Sendai is celebrated annually on August 6-8. During these dates, festivities can be found all around the city corners. Here and there you might see decorations called ‘fukinagashi’ (吹き流し in Japanese) or streamer.

Fukinagashi is traditionally made from washi paper and bamboo and is handcrafted by local shops, schools, or local community groups. This is why you will see which belongs to whom just by looking at the name written.

Each of the fukinagashi will be hoisted up in the air from a long, bamboo pole in a combination of three or four in a row, eventually forming thousands of kaleidoscopic forest-like embellishments. The main locations to view them are in the shopping arcades, though even shops in other locations might sport a smaller version of Tanabata decoration.

Considering the festival is held at the so-called height of summer, many people will don traditional clothes like yukata or jinbei, so it’s quite fun to see all the dazzling garments not typically seen on the streets.

More about Sendai…

Depending on the year, various other events are sometimes held at Shimin Hiroba Square, Kotodai Park, and along Jozenji Avenue. These include stage performances, live music and entertainment, traditional dance, and food stalls, although in recent years the stalls are mostly located on Aoba Avenue near the arcade.

Another thing to mention, a fireworks display is held on the night before the festival start (August 5). As the fireworks will be usually launched from the grounds of Tohoku University, they can be viewed from along the bank of the Hirose River.

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About the Author

Jerfareza Daviano | Photographer in Sendai, Japan
Jerfareza Daviano

Jerfareza is a freelance photographer from Indonesia currently based in Sendai, Japan, offering wide range of photography service especially profile portraits, couple or family photos, and wedding photography. Should you wish to hire him you can check here for more details.

Visit his website for articles about travel in Japan especially Tohoku area and interesting bits about photography.


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