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Thursday, July 07, 2011

"The Downtown Star Festival" (Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri) at Kappabashi-Hondori.

Today is the 7th of July, which is the beginning of the Tanabata (七夕, meaning "Evening of the seventh"), the Japanese star festival that originates from the Chinese Qixi Festival.

You might have heard of it, the meeting between Orihime and Hikoboshi, the Weaving Princess and the Cowherder. The Milky Way separates these lovers, so they are only permitted to meet once a year, on the 7th of July. You can read more of it here.

Therefore, celebrations are supposed to begin today until the weekends.

I caught wind that a Tanabata Festival is usually held at the Kappabashi Street (official website here), which extends 1.2 km, from Ueno Station to the Tsukuba Express Station in Asakusa, the famed Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri. So I headed there with a friend for a walk.

The street was filled with streamers (吹き流し; Fukinagashi).

Tanabata Kazari

Photographing the Tanabata streamers

Panda streamer

To celebrate Tanabata, people usually write their wishes on strips of paper, and hang them on bamboos.

Photographing the tanzaku

These strips are known as Tanzaku. The one below was wishing for health among friends so they can hang out more.

A "Tanzaku" (paper strip wishing for luck)

We continue our way.

Entire street lined with Tanabata decoration

Entire street lined with Tanabata decoration 2

I generally hate Japanese summers, they feel warmer than Malaysia. But today was rather cloudy, and windy. There was a breeze, the streamers to swayed gently in the air.

Entire street lined with Tanabata decoration 3

The wind blew

Continuing the way through the street of Tanabata stuff

The folks were still setting up the decorations. I was initially a little surprised why the street was so quiet, but then, it IS Thursday. I didn't realize that the celebration lasts a few days. Therefore, the real fun happens during weekends.

Men preparing the streamers for Tanabata festival

Men preparing the streamers for Tanabata festival 2

Men preparing the streamers for Tanabata festival 3

Finally reached the end of Kappabashi Street close to Asakusa, where the buildings are obviously older and more traditional.

Kappabashi Street during Tanabata Festival

It was almost six. I haven't eaten. Therefore I entered a traditional restaurant ran by a few elderly women. Their Katsu-don was very nice. I was photographed while eating.

"I now take a photo of you photographing me"