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What's this? Sendai Tanabata Festival photos by Philbert Ono. Held during August 6-8 in Sendai, Miyagi.

Tanabata Tanabata

Commonly called the Star Festival, the Tanabata Matsuri is famous for its large colorful, streamer decorations (called take kazari) hoisted by bamboo poles mainly along covered shopping malls. You can see this festival in various locations in Japan such as Hiratsuka in Kanagawa and Asagaya in Tokyo. It is held either on July 7 or Aug. 7.

The Tanabata Matsuri (Aug. 6-8) held in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture is the grand daddy of all Tanabata Festivals in Japan.

The festival is said to have originated from a Star Festival in China. According to Chinese legend, east of the Milky Way there was a Heavenly King whose daughter worked as a weaver. However, when she married a herdsman, she quit weaving. This angered her father who banished the herdsman to the other side of the Milky Way.

He allowed the two to meet only once a year on the evening of the seventh day of the seventh month (according to the lunar calendar). The weaver is represented by the Vega star and the herdsman by the Altair star. As a prayer to produce better arts and crafts, the Imperial Court and the warrior class paid homage to these two stars from ancient times. The practice spread to the masses during the Edo Period.

In Sendai, daimyo Date Masamune had the warrior and merchant classes observe the Star Festival. During the Tohoku Industrial Expo in 1928, the forerunner of today's Tanabata Festival was held. Sendai merchants strived to uphold the tradition, resulting in today's elaborate and gaudy Tanabata decorations.

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Transmitting from Tokyo, Japan.

Last modified: 2004-06-16