Shonan Tanabata (Star) Festival
This time of the year, you will see decorated bamboo poles throughout Japan. These decorated bamboo are called Tanabata Kazari, representing the Japanese star festival called Tanabata (“Evening of the seventh”) celebrated on July 7th. Even Google Japan updated their image on their search page.
The day celebrates the legend of the couple, Orihime (represented by the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair) who are separated by the Milky Way, and are allowed to meet only once a year by crossing the river of the Milky Way. People celebrate this day by holding festivals, writing wishes on small pieces of paper called tanzaku and hanging them on bamboo.
One of the largest festivals of the summer in Japan is the Shonan Tanabata Festival in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, about a 70 minute train ride from Tokyo Station.
Streets are decorated with Tanabata ornaments and strips of rainbow-colored paper, and many other glittering oddities of fanciful design are lit up at night.
There are over 3,000 decorated bamboo posts in the area, with 500 in the city center and 90 luxury posts in the Shonan Star Mall main venue.
Some are as large at 10 meters incorporating decorative features such as major characters, animals, athletes and trendy ornaments. Very colorful and creative indeed.
As with any Japanese festival, there are many food and drink stalls, games such as goldfish scooping and local items for sale.
There were also marching bands, baton twirlers, dancers and various performers during the festival event.