After a three-year hiatus, the historic Shitamachi Tanabata Festival is set to light up the streets of Tokyo once again in 2023. For those unfamiliar with this vibrant tradition, the festival is a rich tapestry of cultural heritage, community spirit, and city-wide celebrations.
In 2023 the Shitamachi Tanabata Festival is scheduled from Thursday, July 6, 2023, to Monday, July 10, 2023. However, the main events will take place over the weekend, from Saturday, July 8, to Sunday, July 9.
At the heart of the festival are the vibrant Tanabata decorations. Streets are lined with large, colorful, handcrafted paper decorations suspended from bamboo branches, symbolizing the wishes of the locals.
The festival also features lively parades with traditional Japanese music and dance, a variety of food stalls offering local delicacies, and numerous fun-filled activities for children. Many shops and businesses also participate in the festival, adding to the bustling festive atmosphere.
The Shitamachi Tanabata Festival
One of July’s top things to do, the Shitamachi Tanabata Festival, an annual event organized by the Shitamachi Tanabata Festival Executive Committee and takes place on Kappabashi Hondori Street known for its kitchenware shops. It spans approximately 1.2 kilometers from the west of Asakusa Roku District, through the Tool Town, and up to Ueno.
This is the stage where the local shopping district experiences its liveliest time of the year.
The festival is marked by an array of Tanabata decorations, local shop stalls, music, dance, and a variety of performers. The entire length of the street overflows with a homemade vitality, making for a vibrant and bustling atmosphere.
The 36th Shitamachi Tanabata Festival In 2023: What to Expect
The 36th edition of the Shitamachi Tanabata Festival is scheduled from Thursday, July 6, 2023, to Monday, July 10, 2023. However, the main events will take place over the weekend, from Saturday, July 8, to Sunday, July 9.
The venue is KappabashiStreet (from Showa Street to Kokusai Street, about 1.2 km). Located west of Asakusa Roku District along Kokusai Street, the entrance to Kappabashi Hondori Street on the Asakusa side is right next to the ground exit of Tsukuba Express Asakusa Station.
Festival-goers can look forward to Tanabata decorations, local shop stalls, parades, street performances, a tanzaku (wish-writing) corner, and more.
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Main Event Schedule
The opening ceremony takes place on the Ueno side of Kappabashi Hondori Street. Following the ceremony, a large parade commences, making its way from the Ueno side to the Asakusa side.
The Ekochin Owara bushi, a slow but powerful, mysteriously beautiful dance, begins as evening approaches. Starting from the Ueno side, the procession gently moves towards the Asakusa side. The atmosphere as the sun sets is truly special.
- 13:00: Opening ceremony (in front of Ueno Gakuen)
- 13:15-15:00: Parade with participants including Keishicho White Bike Team Queens Stars, Keishicho Band Color Guard and Drum Corps, Tahara Band and Flag Team, Kinryu Elementary School Brass Band, Matsuba Elementary School Mappies, Ueno Elementary School Brass Band, Tahara Kindergarten, Kinryu Kindergarten, Kiyoshima Kindergarten
- 16:00-18:10: Ekochin Owara bushi will move progressively from the Ueno side to the Asakusa side.
On Sunday, the festival will feature street performances throughout the day, including the Awa Odori and Sado Okesa dances.
- 11:00 – 18:00: Walking Acts
- 11:30 – 13:30: Awa Odori by Asakusa Rairen, progressing from the Ueno side to the Asakusa side
- 12:00 – 18:00: Event Space
- 12:30～14:00: Sado Okesa, ring dances at three locations along the street, each for 10 minutes, from the Ueno side to the Asakusa side
Throughout the weekend, mock shops by local merchants will line the streets, which will be pedestrian-only.
Highlights of the Festival
During the festival, the sister and friendship cities of Taito Ward will also have stalls selling their special products on both Saturday and Sunday, from 10:00 in the morning to 19:00 in the evening. The stalls will be located near Ueno Gakuen (5-24-2 Higashi-Ueno, Taito-ku).
Visitors will find products from Minamiaizu Town, Fukushima Prefecture (Friendship City) like Japanese sake, rice, and dried noodles, and specialty products from Midori City, Gunma Prefecture.
During the entire period from Thursday, July 6 to Monday, July 10, festival-goers will have the opportunity to write their wishes on tanzaku papers and tie them to bamboo branches prepared at various locations around the shopping street, from 11:00 to 19:00.
Embrace the captivating blend of tradition, community, and vibrant celebrations at the 36th Shitamachi Tanabata Festival. Experience first-hand the vivacious spirit of Tokyo’s historic Shitamachi district as it comes alive in an unforgettable spectacle of color and festivity.
Celebrating The Tanabata Festival – A Time-Honored Tradition
Originating from Chinese folklore, the Tanabata Festival, also known as the Star Festival, is celebrated annually across Japan. In the historic Shitamachi area in Tokyo, the festival takes on a charming local flavor and transforms the district into a colorful spectacle adorned with bamboo decorations and paper ornaments.
For those seeking a rich cultural experience in Tokyo, the Shitamachi Tanabata Festival is not to be missed. This celebration unites the community and visitors alike in festivities that are deeply rooted in tradition, yet alive with contemporary energy.
The Sum Up
Tokyo never fails to captivate visitors with its intriguing blend of traditional festivals and modern attractions. Among them, the Shitamachi Tanabata Festival stands out, offering a unique opportunity to experience authentic Japanese culture.