Held almost everywhere in Japan on July 7, Tanabata celebrates the meeting of the stars Vega and Altair – the two lovers separated by the Milky Way –, a meeting actually set on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, closer to August 7 in the solar calendar, explaining why Sendai’s Tanabata Matsuri is set on August 6-8.
The tradition of Tanabata in this area dates back to 400 years ago, when Date MASAMUNE (1567-1636) was the warlord of the Sendai clan. Yet, it was only celebrated as it is today after 1928 and the industrial exhibit in Tohoku. Stopped during WW2, the festival started again as soon as it ended to revitalize the city and became the biggest Tanabata festival in Japan.
In Sendai, Tanabata is outstanding: the city is covered in hundreds of sasatake, big bamboo and paper decorations. Typical of Sendai’s Tanabata, the Seven Ornaments represent the prayers for improvement in studies and calligraphy, the wellbeing of the family, health and longevity, success in business, good fish catch and good harvest. The Seven Ornaments are made of paper in the shapes of colored strips, kimono, origami cranes, fringed pouches, papier-mâché nets, paper bins, and banners made of colored rings. The celebrations also feature fireworks, parades, and concerts.