Local Secrets: Asagaya Tanabata Festival in August

The Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival) usually occurs in early July, celebrating the one day per year two star crossed lovers of legend can meet across the Milky Way.

However, in some prefectures Tanabata is celebrated later, which is why the wonderfully colorful Asagaya Tanabata Festival occurs in August (this year from the 6th to the 10th).

For the duration of the festivities, the Pearl Shopping Street, one minute away from Asagaya station, is decorated with huge paper mâché constructs and flowing paper ribbons. The shapes vary from year to year, including animals, the Japanese soccer team, famous cartoon characters, food items and even a few bits of political satire.

On Tanabata it is traditional to write down your wish on a slip of paper, and then tie it to a decorated stalk of bamboo. Thus you can find these 'wish stations' dotted around the shopping street, should you wish to join in on the fun.

Amongst the paper mâché creations there are food stalls galore, ranging from the festival staple of takoyaki (octopus balls) to ice cream and other sweets.

It is a lot of fun (go on weekdays if you want to beat the crowds), and makes for spectacular photos.

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by Chiara

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