Tanabata is perhaps the most colourful time of the year, even more so than cherry blossom season in Tokyo – for a few weeks in early July, strips of paper in bright tones adorn bamboo branches and trees all across the city.
Tanabata is a Star Festival, and like most Japanese festivals, it’s based on a legend. The story is about two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who were separated by the Milky Way, but who were allowed to see each other once a year, on July 7th. The legend states that if the sky is clear on Tanabata, there is a bridge formed by birds across the Milky Way and the lovers can meet, but if it rains, they won’t…
Tanabata falls on July 7th every year, but you can catch the colourful strips of paper for a few days surrounding, and even write your own wish on them. Although you can find the bamboo wish trees at most local shrines and temples, the best way to soak in the festival vibes is to head out to Asakusa’s Kappabashi, where countless vendors and stalls are awaiting you with trinkets and fried foods.
The area already has a traditional feel, and it looks even more vibrant and lively with the colourful streams, parades, and street performances that will be occuring accross the weekend.
Shitamachi Tanabata (click for more info)
When: July 5 – 10
Where: Kappabashi Hon-dori (see map)
Main image: GraceOda/Flickr