Yesterday was the final day of the three-day Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata and since it’s the biggest in our region of Japan and in its 66th year, we decided to make the hour-and-a-half, approximately $14ow trip out to Hiratsuka to see it.
Being we weren’t really sure what we were going to see, we wanted to make sure it was either the biggest or the oldest or the best of whatever a Tanabata is.
I found this July 4, 2016 description written by Tiffany (so it must be true) on the TokyoCheapo website:
“Tanabata is a celebration of the meeting of two legendary star-crossed lovers, the cowherd Hikoboshi and weaver girl Orihime. It is usually celebrated on July 7th, but different areas or regions have different dates to celebrate it. Generally, festivities, which entail writing wishes on strips of paper and tying them to trees (or bamboo strips), take place between July and August.”
Because there was a limited amount of info provided in English, and from the pictures on the website, we gleaned it was like a street festival for locals. There are music groups (though we didn’t see any), and those big, weird-looking creatures with a person inside to pose for pictures with, sometimes parades (which we also didn’t see), and food booths. This Tanabata according to their website also had dinosaurs, for some reason, which we also didn’t see.
We based our trip on a photo of brightly lit-up things that looked like balloons or floats or something equally big and festive. Nothing like spending your energy, time, and money going out to see something that you weren’t really clear on.
What we DID see once we got there was lots of men and women wearing the traditional kimonos, as well as little kids looking especially adorable.
There were colorful streamers and paper decorations along and across the main streets all around the northern section from the train station. Just follow the crowd.
And it got even more beautiful in the evening. Seeing these at night made it all worthwhile.
Though this was our first—and I still am not quite sure what a Tanabata is exactly for—it WAS colorful and it was packed with people like Times Square in the summer.
But unlike Times Square, it was worth the time and expense to see this interesting slice of life in Japan.