Sendai Tanabata Festival - the Most Famous Star Festival in Japan!
Have you heard a Japanese word “Tanabata” ever before? We, Japanese, celebrate July 7th as a Tanabata Day every year in many regions of Japan. In this article, I am going to talk about a festival dedicated to Tanabata – Akita Tanabata Edoro Festival in Yuzawa. And this festival usually takes place at the beginning of August. Tanabata is a famous celebration in Japan that came to the country from Chine, and basically, it means a Star Festival. Citizens of Yuzawa in Akita Prefecture created their own unique way to celebrate this traditional event.
Tanabata Edoro Festival in Akita Prefecture is a charming traditional festival in a cozy provincial town. “Edoro” is the Japanese traditional art that originated in the Edo period. You will notice many pictures of beautiful women and flowers printed on “Toro”. “Toro” is a lantern, and this lantern with pictures of beautiful women is “Edoro”. Some of them look like “Ukiyo-e”, also a famous and traditional type of Japanese art. Edoro boasts about 300-years history. First Edoro was drawn in 1702 which was the origin of the Tanabata Edoro Festival.
The best time to watch Edoro is in the evening. People make lines and walk through streets decorated with big and beautiful Edoro lanterns. All pieces of Edoro are illuminated. Many amateurs create Edoro, but you will also see the works of professionals at the festival. It may take more than 1 month to make one Edoro. So, all of the lanterns are of high quality and very beautiful. I’m sure that the charming atmosphere of the festival at night and the sophisticated pictures on huge lanterns will impress you. Actually, you can learn how to draw Edoro. Some artists make lectures in May and you can make an Edoro for the festival as well. If you have an interest, you can join the lecture and make your own Edoro!
Some people in traditional clothes walk through streets and dance “Bon Odori”, which is a traditional Japanese dance at the festivals. You can also put on traditional Japanese traditional Kimono. If you don’t know how to put it on, you can visit some Kimono shops along streets. In the shops, staff will help you to try on Kimono. However, if you want to wear Kimono, you have to buy it in advance. Besides Kimono shops, there are a lot of shops selling foods and souvenirs, so you can enjoy shopping at this festival, and try local festival food at the stalls.
There are many events taking place in the daytime as well. For example, you can join Edoro drawing contests. There are contests for kids and adults. These contests usually take place on the main streets of Yuzawa. Best Edoro will be awarded!
Dates: August 5th, 6th, 7th every year
Place: the streets around Yanagi-machi and O-machi in Yuzawa City
Address: 2 Chome-2 Omotemachi, Yuzawa-shi, Akita-ken
Official website (Japanese only): http://www.city-yuzawa.com/tanabata/2018/
The venue is really close to Yuzawa Station, JR Ōu Main Line, so you can get there by train. If you have your own car, you can also drive to the venue. Get on the highway and get off at Yuzawa Inter-change. There are a lot of parking lots around.
Tanabata Edoro Festival is a remarkable festival featuring a unique atmosphere that creates a bit mystic feeling when you can enjoy a small town in the heart of Honsyu and see how locals celebrate and support their traditions. The fact that its culmination is in the evening adds even more charm to the process of the festival. I recommend you wear Yukata or kimono during this celebration to fully dive into the local community and enjoy the festival at 100%!
If you would like to explore this fascinating festival and see Akita prefecture with a friendly local guide, please check the banner below!
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you want to visit this great festival. Lantern festivals in Japan are very popular, and you can see it in any season. If you would like to know more about other lantern festivals in Japan, enjoy its mystical atmosphere, and admire a glowing night in Japan, please click on the link below and you will find an article on the best 13 lantern festivals in Japan!
Image courtesy of Yuya Saito
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Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
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