Sendai Tanabata Festival
Reunited lovers at Japan’s most iconic Tanabata celebration.
Sendai Tanabata, the most iconic star festival in Japan, draws more than 2 million tourists each year. They come to marvel at its live performances, fireworks and gigantic handmade streamers floating high above the spectators.
At 3-and-a-half meters long and hanging 10 meters in the air, the traditional streamers, which are seen throughout the city of Sendai, show off the elegance and beauty the festival is known for. Dating back to the creation of Sendai, the second largest city north of Tokyo, the festival doesn’t follow the old Chinese calendar as other Tanabata festivals do.
This means you can catch the festival every Aug. 6 to 8 (instead of in July like elsewhere in Japan) while checking out some of the other famous summer festivals of the northern Tohoku region.
Tanabata inspired which emoji?
Along with Akita Kanto and Aomori Nebuta, the Sendai Tanabata forms one of “The Great Three” festivals of Tohoku, known as Sandai Matsuri. In a region famous for its vibrant and spectacle-driven festivals, this title is hard earned.
Know before you go
While the official festival dates are Aug. 6-8, the city holds a 16,000-strong firework event by Hirosegawa River on Aug. 5, from 7 p.m., to kickstart the festival. Once you’re finished taking in the streamers swaying in the arcades, head to Kotodai Park where you’ll find live music, festival food and a chance to write your own wishes, tanzoku, and hang them amongst the bamboo (Yup, and that’s why this ? emoji exist, too!) For walking routes, check out the official English map.
As one of Japan’s top Tanabata celebrations, it’s worth a trip to see this vibrant city light up every August.