The Sendai Tanabata Festival is a traditional event with a 400-year history, said to have been started by Sendai's feudal lord, Date Masamune. The Tanabata Festival is the most famous of the Tohoku region's three great festivals.
A major highlight of the festival is the decoration of Sendai's shopping arcades with over 1,500 tanabata-kazari, streamers and strips of decorated Japanese paper suspended from green bamboo. Sendai is transformed by these colorful decorations, and watching them blow in the breeze allows visitors to experience the sensation of Japanese summertime.
During the festival, Sendai's citizens put on brilliant performances and traditional dances. On the eve of the festival (5 August), a fireworks display, featuring 16,000 fireworks, is held. The best places from which to watch are alongside the Hirose River and around Nishi Park.
Sendai Tanabata Festival
Festival Dates: 6 - 8 August every year （Sendai Tanabata Fireworks Display: 5 August）
Festival Location: Within Downtown Sendai
What is Tanabata?
Tanabata is a seasonal festival that is celebrated all over Japan at the turning of the seasons, usually on 7 July or sometimes a month later on 7 August. During Tanabata, people write their wishes on thin strips of paper called tanzaku and then tie them to bamboo grass. The bamboo decorations used for Sendai's Tanabata Festival are remade by hand yearly, with people usually writing wishes related to studies, business or good health, and are part of the festival's seven traditional decorations. The main decorations used are streamers called fuki-nagashi that are based on a motif of weaving yarn and express a wish for improved artistic skill.
Photo from left: Fukinagashi streamers / Wishes written on tanzaku
Photos: (C) City of Sendai