東北絆祭り

Sendai Tanabata festival

Regional ruler Masamune Date promoted the festival

The festival called "Tanabata-san" in Sendai has been continued since it was ruled by Masamune Date. One month later of 7th of July, it is held from 6th to 8th of August as 7th of August is designated as the middle day of the festival. It is known as one of Tohoku big three festivals. Since it is Sendai's summer feature, more than two million visitors come to see it every year. Tanabata is originated from a folklore from China telling the story of Altair (Hikoboshi) and Vega (Orihime) crossing the Milky Way and seeing each other once a year. In Nara period, "Festival to Plead for Skills", in which people wish for the betterment of their own sewing skills like Orihime who was good at it, was introduced to Japan, and this got popular in Edo period as one of the main five festivals. It is said that people started to decorate a bamboo tree with paper strips and ornaments from this time like today's Tanabata ornament. This Edo period style Tanabata was adopted in Sendai as well, and the ruler Masamune Date encouraged it with the wish of children's skill improvement. This was the root of Sendai Tanabata festival (some opinions available though). It was simple and modest festival sending a prayer to the ancestors for sewing skill improvement and good harvest in early days. Although it was declined by the Meiji Restoration and adoption of the Gregorian calendar and cancelled by wars, it was re-held in 1947 and has been turned into today's colorful style. You should be taken your breath away when seeing the arcade is filled with the beautiful ornaments, some of their total length is nearly 5 metres.

Regional ruler Masamune Date promoted the festival
Regional ruler Masamune Date promoted the festival

Making wishes to seven decorations

Generally, people write their wish on a paper strip and put it on a bamboo grass. Whereas people in Sendai make wishes to "seven decorations": "paper strip" for study and calligraphy, "purse" for wealth, "dust box" for cleanliness and frugality, "casting net" for a big catch, "origami crane" for family well-being and longevity, "ornament" for skill improvement, and "paper garment" for sewing improvement and protection. A ball-like decoration called “Kusudama” is on the top of an ornament, which is also a unique feature.

Making wishes to seven decorations

Decorating the city with colors

During the festival, the city center and surrounding shopping areas are covered with multiple unique and colorful decorations. Especially, splendid Tanabata ornaments in the arcade is the best part of the festival. Let's stroll in the city to look for unique seven decorations that can be seen only in Sendai! Usually there are also some exclusive fun events held only in Tanabata, such as stage events in the citizen's square, exhibitions to learn Tanabata history and stalls where you can have delicious foods from Miyagi prefecture.

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