Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Indonesia Festival

July 9th, 2011:

This is the first of the international festivals in Yoyogi Park that we went to this year (2011).  I had briefly mentioned about these festivals in my Yoyogi Park post, which is where the festivals are held.  This weekend, on the side of Yoyogi Park with the National Gymnasium, the park fills with the tents of Indonesian food, drinks, goods and culture.  For this weekend, the area looks more like a market in Indonesia than any place in Tokyo.  The sights, sounds and especially the smells that reach far away compel everyone that comes in contact with it to dive right in.

A map of Indonesia and its neighbors in Southeast Asia. [1]

Indonesia is the world's largest archipelagic country with over 17,500 islands, of which 6,000 are inhabited.  It is the 4th (China, India, and the U.S. are 1, 2 and 3 respectively) most populous country with an estimated 248 million people and the world's largest Muslim population.  Indonesia was first colonized by the Dutch in the early 17th century and would remain under their control until Japan colonized it from 1942-1945.  After the war, Indonesia declared independence, but would have to fight the Netherlands for this independence and need UN intervention for mediation to be finally granted independence in 1949.  This would be followed by years of authoritarian rule, that has only recently, since 1999 seen a democratization of the country. [2]

Indonesia is also notable for its volcanic activity, with the most volcanoes of any country in the world.  It currently has 76 that are at least historically active.  The country also has a large amount of natural resources, which was the source of other countries wanting to colonize it, as well as an important part of its current economy.  Throughout its history, Indonesia's agriculture was the most important aspect of its economy, but in recent years, industry has become the largest part of its economy and very recently, the service sector provides the most jobs in the country.  Its capital is the city of Jakarta with over 9 million people, but Indonesia is more well known for its diversity as many different groups of people make up the many islands that make up Indonesia. [3] This and its history of colonization has created a wide variety of cultural influences that still can be seen today.

Each of the international festivals are set up in the same way.  This area of the park gets filled by tents, with the ones on the outside making a border and the ones on the inside forming rows.  Some of these tents sell goods from that place, mainly clothing and typical souvenirs, but also food products that are common from the country.  Other tents are set up for the different groups and organizations that are of or working with that country, but are here in Japan.  This area of the park also has a stage / bandshell where the country's music and cultural performances are on display.  So each festival looks like a market from that country transported to Yoyogi Koen for the weekend and also looks like a cultural and information fair.  The best parts of these festivals by far is the huge amount of that country's food and drink specialties for sale.

Some of the food stalls at the Indonesia Festival competing for customers with fancy banners and delicious food.

Many of that country's food restaurants in Tokyo come to the festival to sell their specialties and advertise their restaurant through the selling of their food at the festival.  Most of the festival is filled with a bazaar for a feast with the sights and smells of great food from that country tricks everyone passing by with the amount, variety and how delicious it all looks to go and buy everything if it were even possible.  We didn't even know about the festival and weren't planning on going, but once we saw it, we had to take a look (and get some things to eat and drink of course).  This is also why we did less at this festival than at some others we knew and prepared for.

We got some sticks of Satay Ayam, or the national dish of Indonesia, comprising of chicken covered with peanut oil.  

Also had to try some mango beer.  It's made by mixing half beer with half mango juice.  It was tasty, especially in the heat and humidity of summer in Tokyo.  Does it get to count as healthy now too?

Our first of the Yoyogi Park International Festivals this year was a great surprise, as we just happened to be walking by while the Indonesia Festival was happening.  After having just a small taste of this festival due to our unpreparedness, we made sure to look up when the other festivals were happening so we could go and fully enjoy them.  I'd fully recommend if you're coming to Tokyo for a while during the summer-early fall that it would be worth seeing which place's festival is at Yoyogi Park and stopping by.


1. "Maps of Southeast Asia," Maps of Thailand,

2. CIA, "East & Southeast Asia: Indonesia," The World Factbook,

3. Ibid.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Summer in Japan

Summer in Japan is one of the most exciting times to be here.  It is also one of the most difficult.  The summer season has the largest variety of activities to do; for it is when many of the festivals occur and the mountains and beaches open for the season.  It can be one of the most difficult times due to the weather.  For 3-4 months, the weather reaches tropical rainforest like levels, being over 100 degrees and 100% humidity every day.  While almost everywhere has lots of air conditioning, outside can be unpleasant.  I think the excitement of the season and all of the activities available make it a very worthwhile time to be in Japan.

Summer in Japan starts in late June, as soon as the rains of the Rainy Season end and it gets really hot out.  Although in recent years, this has been changing as the rainy season doesn't rain as much as it used to and things get hotter sooner.  The end of the summer season is in early September, when the beach and mountains close and kids return to school, but in terms of climate, the heat of summer can last more than a month longer than this.  This makes for at least the weather of summer to last from late-June to early to mid-October.

Summer is the time to go to the mountains and beaches as they open for the season.  This usually occurs from the beginning of July to the end of August for the mountains and the beginning of July to Obon (August 15th) for the beaches, because of the jellyfish that come after this.  The beaches and smaller mountains are really open all year, but most Japanese don't go out of season.  The larger mountains really are closed though in the off-season, specifically Mt. Fuji where the huts that cater to climbers of the mountain are closed and the rest of the year is also very dangerous to attempt climbing for any amateurs.  If you are planning to climb Mt. Fuji, you should plan your trip for the summer months, specifically during the open season.

Japan has a wide variety of other interesting things that are associated with summer.  The most obvious one being semi (蝉).  Semi are cicadas and one of the biggest things associated with summer here in Japan.  Which if you have ever been here in summer, is really obvious to see why.  The whole summer of Japan is filled with the screeching of cicada.  In the beginning, I wasn't ready for how loud they were and sometimes thought areas were filled with loud birds, until I realized (or remember again now) that this is the cicadas' work.  In areas with lots of trees, they can be especially deafening.  I also think they're a bit larger here than back home.

Another interesting aspect about Japan's summers is the popularity of horror at this time.  While in many places, the popular time for scary things is around Halloween, for Japan it's summer.  It is a long running belief in Japan that being scared is cooling.  So in Japan, it is popular for scary things and to be scared during the summer.  In the past, this was done by hanging Ukiyo-e prints of monsters, ghosts or other scary subjects.  The subject matter of these prints are often of Kaidan (怪談).  Kaidan, or Kwaidan are the traditional ghost stories and scary folktales of historic Japan.  Most of them refer to traditional tales that have been passed down for generations and incorporate the geographic, historic and political elements of the region that they come from. [1]

These tales or Kaidan became very popular during the Edo Era, when a game called Hyakumonogatari Kaidankai (百物語怪談会), or "Gathering of One Hundred Supernatural Tales" became popular. [2]  The game was played in the nights of summer, where 100 candles would be lit in a circle.  Players would then tell a ghost story and after telling it would extinguish one of the candles.  The extinguishing of the candles were thought to draw spiritual energy, until the last candle extinguished would cause an apparition to appear. [3]  As the popularity spread, books comprising of these Kaidan were put together to help players of the game to be able to remember more of them for the game.  Authors of these books also searched among the remote places of Japan for new tales, recording many of these local tales for the first time.  The Kaidan that were linked to important historical events were also depicted in the Noh and Bunraku plays of this time, making them classics and well known throughout Japan.  These tales became known to the west, first through the writings of Lafcadio Hearn in his book, Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things written in 1904. [4]  Lafcadio Hearn is famous for being one of the earliest writers of Japan and Japanese culture for western audiences.  Coming to Japan in 1890 for a newspaper assignment, he would stay in Japan for the rest of his life writing and teaching English in Japan until his death in 1904.  His most famous work being his first work of Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan which he describes his first experiences in Japan in. [5]  These stories becoming well-known, also became the subject matter of the Ukiyo-e prints covering scary subject matter.

Kuniyoshi Utagawa's Mitsukuni Defying the Skeleton Spectre Invoked by Princess Takiyasha. [6] 

Yoshitoshi Tsukioka, Ōya Tarō Mitsukuni.  From the same story as the Ukiyo-e above. [7]    

Katsushika Hokusai's The Ghost of Oiwa, from "One Hundred Stories." [8]

Katsushika Hokusai's Kohada Koheiji, from "One Hundred Stories." [9]

Now, most of Japan's horror films are released during the summer, filling this role.

The biggest and most exciting part about summer are the festivals.  Many of Japan's biggest and most famous festivals are held in the summer.  For example, 2 of Japan's 'Three Great Festivals' are held in the summer and all 3 of the 'Three Great Festivals of Tohoku' are held in the summer, these even being the same week of the first week of August.  Both the 'Three Great Festivals' and the 'Three Great Festivals of Tohoku' are Top 3, which I talked about in my last post about Tanabata.  These are: Gion Matsuri in Kyoto, Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka and the Nebuta Matsuri in Aomori, the Kanto Matsuri in Akita and the Tanabata Matsuri in Tanabata.  Besides these big ones, many areas hold their festivals in the summer.  So even while you could find a festival in Japan on almost every day of the year already, the summer become even more packed and you often have to choose between a few options every weekend (and on the weekdays as well).  For example, I really like the international food and culture festivals that happen just about every weekend in the summer to early fall at Yoyogi Park.  Another hugely popular summer past-time are the many firework festivals held all over Japan.

Besides the other festivals, the local firework festivals are a special time in summer when people bring popular food and drinks, many people donning traditional yukata and head to the river banks or spot of the fireworks to picnic, party and watch the fireworks.  These fireworks have been a popular activity since their introduction from China in the 16th century.  The Japanese also have their own firework invention, the Warimono which are also used in the festivals.  The Warimono are the fireworks that explode into the huge circles of sparks, made to represent different flowers.  These flowers include the chrysanthemum, wisteria, plum blossoms, cherry blossoms and others. [10]  These firework shows put almost all of ours back in the U.S. to shame.  The shows here are like the climax of normal firework shows, if they lasted for an hour instead.  Some of the most famous ones are the fireworks on the banks of the Sumigawa River in Tokyo and Nagaoka Festival on the banks of the Shinano River in Niigata.

The fireworks at the Sumidagawa Hanabi Taikai, "Sumida River Firework Festival," in Tokyo on August 14th, 2010.

The Nagaoka Firework Festival is held the 2nd and 3rd of August every year.  This fireworks show is famous for its huge fireworks, as well as the number launched during the festival.  The biggest of these is called the Sanjakudama, which is a 300 kilogram shell and explodes to 600 meters in diameter. [11]

The Sanjakudama in action.  The fireworks below are the size of the usual large ones. [12] 

Summer also has the 2nd most important holiday for Japanese people of Obon.  Obon (お盆) is an important religious festival held on August 15th for the Japanese.  At this time, the ancestors' spirits are supposed to return to the family home.  People all over Japan often return to their family and ancestral home at this time to be with family and to participate in the traditions revolving around the preparations and rituals of this important festival.  The main traditions are the: Haka Maini, Bon Odori, Mukaebi, Okuribi and Shōrō Nagashi.  Haka Mmairi is the visiting of the graves of the ancestors, which are then cleaned up for the Bon Festival.  The main point of Obon is to properly welcome and send off the spirits of their ancestors that come back to the ancestral home at this time.  This is done by the other traditional practices. [13]

Mukaebi is the lighting of fires to guide and welcome the returning souls.  This welcome is further enhanced by the Bon Odori, or the Bon Dance.  The Bon Dance is a traditional folk dance in the town, where a Yagura, or a stage with lanterns in the town square is danced around in a circle to Hayashi music. [14]

The departure of the ancestral spirits is also important and rituals are also preformed for the sending off of these spirits.  This includes the Bon Odori again, but also has the Okuribi and the Shōrō Nagashi.  The Okuribi is the lighting of fires again, much like the Mukabi, but for the sending off of the spirits.  The Shōrō Nagashi is the sending of the spirits down the local river to the sea in paper boats.  These are called Tōrō, which are lanterns made by the people for their own ancestors with a candle inside and sent into the waters to the sea marking the end of Obon. [15]

Summer is an exciting time to be in Japan, with many of its greatest festivals on display during this time and all of the outdoor activities open to be explored.  The unpleasant weather is just a small price to pay to be able to experience everything Japan has to offer during the summer season.


1. Scott Foutz, "Kaidan: Traditional Japanese Ghost Tales and Japanese Horror Film," SaruDama,

2. Ibid.

3. Zack Davisson, "What is Hyakumonogatari?" 百物語怪談会 Hyaukumonogatari Kaidankai,

4. Scott Foutz, "Kaidan: Traditional Japanese Ghost Tales and Japanese Horror Film."

5. Lafcadio Hearn, Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2009), viii.

6. "Death of Kuniyoshi," Toshidama Japanese Prints,

7. Library of Congress, "Yoshitoshi's One Hundred Ghosts," The Floating World of Ukiyo-e Shadows, Dreams, and Substance,

8. Library of Congress, ""Oiwa" (Oiwa-san)," The Floating World of Ukiyo-e Shadows, Dreams, and Substance,

9. Library of Congress, ""Kohada Koheiji"," The Floating World of Ukiyo-e Shadows, Dreams, and Substance,

10. Illustrated Festivals of Japan, 12th ed. (Japan: JTB Publishing, 2006), 174.

11. "Nagaoka Matsuri Dai Hanabi Taikai,",

12. Erdenee, "Nagaoka Fireworks Festival!!!," Japanese Used Car Dealer "EVERY" BLOG,

13. Illustrated Festivals of Japan, 170-172.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Tanabata: Festival of the Star Lovers

July 7th, 2011:

The main form of decorations displayed for Tanabata. [1]

Today is another Japanese holiday.  However, unlike the other ones I've talked about so far, this one is largely a Chinese adopted holiday.  Tanabata, or 'The Star Festival,' is the Chinese festival of Qixi and most of the traditions and customs performed in the Japanese Tanabata have Chinese origins.  Tanabata (七夕) is a holiday revolving around the mythological story of Orihime and Hikoboshi.  Tanabata is also the 4th Sekku, marking the beginning of the summer season on the lunar calendar.  More information about Sekku and other Sekku that I have written about can be found here.

Orihime (織姫) and Hikoboshi (彦星), or Zhinü and Niulang in the Chinese legend are the stars Vega and Altair respectively.  Orihime was the daughter of Tentei (天帝), or the king of heaven.  Orihime skillfully weaved clothes for her father, but was so busy with weaving that she could not find time to find love, so that she became depressed.  Tentei seeing this, arranged a marriage for her with Hikoboshi who lived across the River of Heaven.  The River of Heaven is Amanogawa (天の川), which in Japanese is actually the Milky Way.  Both of them were in love and very happy, but Orihime had neglected her weaving so Tentei again separated them on opposite sides of the Amanogawa.  Tentei now only allows them to meet on the 7th night of the 7th month. [2]

This is only if Orihime does her best in her weaving.  On that night, a boatman (actually the moon) comes to her side to ferry her across to Hikoboshi for the night.  However, if Tentei is not happy about her weaving for that year he can make it rain, which makes the river flooded and the boatman can not cross the river to ferry her across.  In this case, Magpies still might make a bridge across the Milky Way for her to cross. [3]

It's a bit different than the Chinese tale of Qixi, but it's easy to see the similarities in the two stories and what was drawn from the Qixi tale to make the Tanabata story.  In this story, Orihime and Hikoboshi are Zhinü and Niulang.  In this story, Niulang is first an orphan living with his brother and his brother's wife, but the sister-in-law doesn't like him.  So eventually, they split the property and Niulang is given an old ox and a poor shelter.  When Niulang had brought the ox to a new area, he saw 9 fairy sisters descend from the clouds and bathe in the river there.  When Niulang stared at the most beautiful of them, the ox told him that she was Zhinü and if he got her color cloth she would marry him.  Niulang then took her cloth and Zhinü wasn't able to leave with the other sisters as she had lost her cloth.  Niulang then appears before Zhinü and asks her to marry him, which she does and they have 2 children and live happily for 2 years, her as a weaver and him as a farmer.  When the God of Heaven discovers that Zhinü has married a mortal, he becomes furious and orders the Goddess of Heaven and soldiers to bring Zhinü back to heaven on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar.  Niulang with the help of the ox, takes his children in a basket and gives chase to them up into heaven.  Right before catching them, the Goddess of Heaven takes out her golden hairpin and waves it in the sky, creating a sky river separating the two.  Being separated, the 2 separated lovers cry, moving the magpies who came to form a bridge over the river.  The Goddess of Heaven was powerless to stop this, so every year on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar they are allowed to meet. [4]  So today is the one day that the stars, or Orihime and Hikoboshi can meet.

This is a depiction of Tanabata, with Orihime and Hikoboshi separated by the River of Heaven, the Milky Way.  If you're wondering why they're penguins, it's because this is the Christmas Illuminations in front of JR's (Japan Railways) headquarters in Shinjuku and the penguin is JR's mascot.  Why Tanabata was the subject of a Christmas display, I couldn't begin to tell you. 

Well, not exactly one day.  The 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar was the one day they were allowed to meet.  The problem is, Japan switched to the Gregorian Calendar in 1873 and the two aren't exactly comparable.  So, Tanabata is celebrated on July 7th in some places, as they kept the same date.  While other places celebrate it one month later on August 7th, which more closely matches the actual time on the lunar calendar.  This confusion happens for a variety of holidays and festivals in Japan, where it's either the same day, one month later or held on both days, but differing in date depending on the area like Tanabata.

The main tradition of this holiday are the decorations of the holiday and the wishes that get made.  People take a bamboo branch and decorate it with strips of colored paper as well as wish strips.  These wish strips are actually called Tanzaku (短冊), which are long strips of paper where originally Tanka poems were written on them, but for Tanabata, people write wishes on them and hang them with the other decorations on the bamboo in hopes of it coming true.  These prayer strips are related to the Tanabata story.  The original Chinese festival Qixi is also called 'The Festival to Plead for Skills.'  This also can be seen in the popular version of the Tanabata story where Orihime must weave her best, otherwise Tentei might make it rain and prevent the boatman from coming to unite them.  In the ancient Japanese traditions, people wished for an increase in their skills along with Orihime to increase her skill in weaving so she can see Hikoboshi. [5]  People also make wishes for good weather, because it's believed they won't be able to meet if it's bad weather and Tanabata won't be held for that year. [6]  In present day Tanabata, people can wish for anything and often wish for their hopes and dreams for the future. [7]

So far, I have not really celebrated this holiday short of seeing some of the decorations hung about during this time.  What I really want to do for this holiday in the future is see Sendai's Tanabata.  Sendai is the capital city of Miyagi Prefecture in the Tohoku Region (the northern part of Honshu), which has Japan's most famous Tanabata festival.  It's held from August 6th-8th (they chose one month later to more closely match the lunar calendar) and is the biggest Tanabata festival and one of the Top 3 Tohoku Festivals.

Top 3 is a commonly used marking for the best things of Japan, since the first one Sankei (三景), or 'Top 3 Views' was created by the scholar Hayashi Razan in 1643.  While the original was made more than 350 years ago, over time new categories have been made and previous ones revised, so there is a mixture of old and new sources for these lists.  They represent the best of Japan in that category for the Japanese.  Some of the more famous ones are: Top 3 Views, Gardens and Festivals, but these include all sorts of things like: Top 3 Night Views, Castles, Onsens and even things like Top 3 Disappointing Places.  Sendai Tanabata is one of the Top 3 Tohoku Festivals, which is a separate category from Top 3 Festivals as the Tohoku Region has a lot of grand festivals.  In more recent years, this idea has been expanded to 100 Famous Japanese Mountains (日本百名山) by Kyūya Fukada, who as a mountaineer and not satisfied with previous mountain lists has written his own.  The book has become famous by the endorsement of the Crown Prince Naruhito, and as a result has become the official list even though it wasn't the author's intention. [8]  This 100 Famous list has also been copied for 100 Famous Castles of Japan recently.  This idea has developed into all sorts of different lists that often become the checklist for people that travel in Japan want to complete.

Tanabata decorations in Sendai. [9]

The Sendai Tanabata is particularly famous because of its many large decorations throughout the city.  Each decoration costs around a few hundred thousand yen to a few million.  These decorations are made by the vendors of Sendai and many start work on the paper decoration months before the festival. [10]  The festival of Tanabata in the shopping districts of Sendai become a sky filled with colorful paper decorations and bamboo.

These decorations are hung on real bamboo, where the people of the shopping districts go into the mountains and cut down the bamboo that grows there more than ten meters long and deliver it to the shopping districts.  This is done on August 4th, and the stores assemble their decorations to hang on the bamboo, 5 decorations to each bamboo pole.  This is then hung up at 8:00 AM on August 6th.  These are also more than just decorations.  The stores of the shopping districts compete against each other and that evening, gold, silver and copper medal winner of that shopping street receive a plate at the base of their decoration. [11]

These decorations comprise of 7 different decorations, all having important symbolism for Tanabata and different prayers asked for during Tanabata.  These 7 decorations are: paper kimonos, 1,000 origami cranes, Tanzaku, paper nets, paper trash bags, paper purses and paper streamers.  The meaning of each is as followed: The paper kimono are hung at the top of the bamboo pole and in the past were the prayers for good sewing skills. [12]  The 1,000 origami cranes are a traditional Japanese action for making a wish come true.  For Sendai's Tanabata, they are also a wish for long life and also done for the older members of each family.  This also has a connection to the focus of gaining skills for the holiday, as young girls teach each other how to fold the origami cranes.  The Tanzaku I have already mentioned, but they also symbolize the gaining of skills through the handwriting lessons and studying skills gained from copying the poems from masters in the past onto these Tanzaku.  The net is traditional for Sendai as a wish for a good catch of the fisherman in Sendai.  The trash bags are created from the left-over paper of the other decorations and put inside of a paper trash bag symbolizing the importance of saving and using resources wisely.  The purse serves as a warning against wasting money, but also as a wish for wealth.  The streamers represent the string that Orihime used to weave and make up the most of the decorations. [13]  These 7 decorations are what makes up the many decorations that fill the shopping districts of Sendai during this time and make Tanabata here a must see.

Besides the incredible decorations, Sendai's Tanabata has a long history.  By the Edo Era, when rule of this area was by the Date Clan, Tanabata was called Tanabata-san by the people and Masamune Date had written poems about Tanabata and how it was already a long held tradition in Sendai.  This was still during the old lunar calendar, so Tanabata at that time was held on July 7th and decorations were thrown into the river on July 8th.  This would change during the rule of the 7th Date lord, Shigemura Date by being moved up one day.  At that time, people decorated bamboo and celebrated the 2 stars meeting much like today.  They also prayed for writing and sewing skills, as well as a good harvest by making straw horses as a symbol of the gods of their own horses of their rice paddies.  Tanabata at this time was also used as a preparation for the Bon festival, an important religious festival in August by washing various things and bathing in the same local river they threw the Tanabata decorations in, in an event called Nanukabi or Nanukabon.  The traditional Tanabata festival in Sendai declined from a combination of the Meiji Era and the period of modernization at this time, the switch to the Gregorian Calendar in 1873 and the recession after the first world war. [14]

So the modern Sendai Tanabata is a bit removed from its historic and traditional roots.  It was brought back by a group of Sendai merchants in 1927 to combat the general mood caused by the recession and to show off the business spirit of Sendai, which brought a lot of excitement and happiness for the return of the festival.  This was further promoted in the following year by the Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, along with the Sendai Sponsorship Committee to hold a Tanabata decoration contest at the Tohoku Industrial Exposition.  This was held from August 6th-8th, which has remained the dates of the festival to this day.  Eleven towns in the city of Sendai participated in decorating the town, which drew huge crowds marking the full return of Tanabata in Sendai. [15]

In the latter years of World War II, Sendai's Tanabata festival again became very subdued due to the hardships from the war.  After the war in 1946, the street of Ichibancho, which went through the destroyed town of Sendai set up 52 bamboo decorations; again bringing back the Tanabata festival.  In 1947, Emperor Hirohito came to Sendai and 5,000 bamboo pole decorations were hung along the route he would take.  Ever since, the main shopping districts have continued to work hard for the Tanabata festival in Sendai.  The decorations also reflect this in the Kusudama.  The Kusudama is the ball on the top of the decorations that you can see in the picture above.  It was originally a decoration consoling the spirits of the dead, but in 1946 a new design was made by Kengoro Mori in order to encourage the Japanese people during Japan's reconstruction period.  It is based on the Dahlia flower and incorporates a variety of origami and colorful papers.  In recent years, Sendai's Tanabata has even expanded further due to its popularity, to more than just decorations, but parades and fireworks as well. [16]  It's too bad I can't use the wish strip early to get there.  I'll have to figure out another way to do it and be able to experience one of Japan's greatest festivals in Sendai's Tanabata.


1. Hiro, "Information for Tanabata or Star Festival in Kyoto," Kyoto Machiya Blog,

2. Shane Sakata, "Tanabata - Festival of Star Crossed Lovers," The Nihon Sun, July 2nd, 2009,, (accessed February 28th, 2012).

3. Steve Renshaw and Saori Ihara, "Orihime, Kengyuu, and Tanabat Adapting Chinese Lore to Native Beliefs and Purposes," Astronomy in Japan,

4. "QiXi Story - The Chinese Valentine's Day," Paviavio,

5. Steve Renshaw and Saori Ihara, "Orihime, Kengyuu, and Tanabat Adapting Chinese Lore to Native Beliefs and Purposes."

6. Shizuko Mishima, "Japanese Tanabata Festival," Japan Travel,

7. Steve Renshaw and Saori Ihara, "Orihime, Kengyuu, and Tanabat Adapting Chinese Lore to Native Beliefs and Purposes."

8. Wes Lang, "Hyakumeizan (日本百名山)," Hiking in Japan,

9. Kikuo, "Tanabata (Star Festival)," Kikuo's Website,

10. Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association, "Features of Sendai Tanabata Festival," Sendai Tanabata Festival August 6 - 8,

11. Ibid.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association, "History of Sendai Tanabata Festival," Sendai Tanabata Festival August 6 - 8,

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.