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The Star Festival: 6 Tanabata Events in Tokyo and Eastern Japan

Tanabata, or the Star Festival takes place across Japan in either early July or August. We introduce six Tanabata events held in and near Tokyo. They feature gorgeous displays, parades, fireworks, and food stalls!

Tanabata, Japan's Star Festival

The Star Festival: 6 Tanabata Celebrations To Check Out In Kanto!

In early July or August, Tanabata, or the Star Festival, is celebrated all around Japan.

Although festival traditions vary across the country, everyone knows the legend behind the celebration. It's the romantic tale of two stars, Orihime and Hikoboshi, that fell in love and were separated by the Milky Way, only able to see one another on the seventh day of the seventh month, when a bridge across the Milky Way is built for the separated lovers.

This story is beloved across Japan, so there are numerous Tanabata festivals held either on July 7 or August 7, depending on whether the region is using the Gregorian or Lunar calendar, respectively.

With such a romantic story, how could you not want to see a Tanabata festival while visiting Japan? Here are details on six of the most popular Tanabata events in Eastern Japan, along with their festival dates and access information!

*Due to COVID-19, festivals may have been cancelled. Please check each event's official website for more information.

1. Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival in Kanagawa

The Star Festival: 5 Tanabata Celebrations To Check Out In Eastern Japan!

Picture from Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival Site

Visited by over 1,700,000 people each year, the Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival is one of the largest in the Kanto region.

Although typically a peaceful beach resort, the Shonan area in Kanagawa really comes to life in the summer, with plenty of events, street vendors, stunning decorations, and displays to wow visitors.

Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival
Dates: July 8 - 10, 2022
Address: Kanagawa, Hiratsuka, Akashicho
Nearest Station: Hiratsuka Station (JR Tokai Line)
Access: In front of North Exit of Hiratsuka Station
Website: Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival (Japanese)

2. Mobara Tanabata Festival in Chiba

The Star Festival: 5 Tanabata Celebrations To Check Out In Eastern Japan!

Picture from Mobara Tanabata Festival Site

Another large-scale Tanabata Festival held near Tokyo is Mobara Tanabata Festival, which is visited by more than 800,000 people every year.

Not only are there impressive decorations and numerous street stalls to see, but there's also a parade of dancers performing Mobara Awa Odori, a festive dance featuring gorgeous costumes.

Mobara Tanabata Festival
Address: Chiba, Mobara
Dates: *The festival has been canceled for 2022.
Nearest Station: Mobara Station (Keio or Sobu lines)
Access: Around the South Exit of Mobara Station
Website: Mobara Tanabata Festival (Japanese)

3. Irumagawa Tanabata Festival in Saitama

The Star Festival: 5 Tanabata Celebrations To Check Out In Eastern Japan!

Picture from Irumagawa Tanabata Festival Site

Although it lasts only two days, the Irumagawa Tanabata Festival is still one of the largest events of its kind in eastern Japan; it sees about 400,000 visitors each year.

Near Irumagawa River runs Tanabata Street, where crowds of people gather to enjoy different Japanese festival foods, and to watch the spectacular firework displays over the water.

Irumagawa Tanabata Festival
Address: Saitama, Sayama, Irumagawa 1-1-1
Dates: In 2022, the event will be held on a smaller scale on August 6 - 7.
Nearest Station: Sayamashi Station (Seibu-Shinjuku Line)
Access: Tanabata Street Arcade from West Exit of Sayamashi Station
Website: Irumagawa Tanabata Festival (Japanese)

4. Asakusa Shitamachi Tanabata Festival in Tokyo

The Star Festival: 5 Tanabata Celebrations To Check Out In Eastern Japan!

The area from Asakusa to Ueno is commonly known as the shitamachi, a sort of historical downtown where you'll find many independent shops and small production factories for different traditional items.

The Shitamachi Tanabata Festival takes place along Asakusa's Kappabashi Street and the surrounding area. Here, you can enjoy brightly colored displays, snack on great festival foods, and watch firework displays with Tokyo Skytree in the background!

In addition to the parades and performances in this festival, it's also a great place to pick up Japanese traditional handicrafts.

Shitamachi Tanabata Festival
Address: Tokyo, Taito, Matsugaya 1-4 (in the Kappabashi area)
Dates: The event has been canceled for 2022.
Nearest Station: Tawaramachi Station, Tokyo Metro Ginza Line
Access: 5 minute walk from Tawaramachi Station
Website: Shitamachi Tanabata Festival (Japanese)

5. Asagaya Tanabata Festival in Tokyo

The Star Festival: 5 Tanabata Celebrations To Check Out In Eastern Japan!

Picture from Asagaya Tanabata Festival Site

Located 8 minutes by train from Shinjuku Station, Asagaya has a distinctly old Tokyo feel to it, and is known for its friendly, residential atmosphere.

During the Asagaya Tanabata Festival, huge papier-mâché characters decorate the shopping streets within the Asagaya Pearl Center Shotengai (shopping street). These characters and other decorations are all made by the locals, so here you can really feel the hometown pride of the area.

As it's located in a shotengai, there are plenty of other exciting things to see and do here as well.

Asagaya Tanabata Festival
Address: Tokyo, Suginami, Asagaya Minami 1-35-18
Dates: The event has been canceled for 2022.
Nearest Station: Asagaya Station (JR Chuo Line)
Access: the Asagaya Pearl Center is in front of Asagaya Station's South Exit
Website: Asagaya Tanabata Festival (Japanese)

6. Mito Komon Festival in Ibarai


Photos by Pixta
Mito Komon is the nickname of Tokugawa Mitsukuni (1628-1701), a feudal lord that was highly influential in the politics of early Edo-period Japan. He governed over the Mito Domain, the former name of present-day Mito City in Ibaraki.

The Mito Komon Festival is usually held in July, coinciding with the Star Festival. During the event, around 4,500 fireworks are being released over Lake Senba. A portable shrine parade is held in the city, with around ten gorgeous festival floats participating.

It's a festival that allows visitors to experience the traditional culture of Mito and feel its rich history.

Mito Komon Festival
Address: Ibaraki, Mito, Lake Senba area
Dates: In 2022, the firework display will be held on October 22, and the festival parade will be held on November 5.
Nearest Station: Mito Station
Website: Mito Komon Festival (Japanese)

Enjoy the Star Festival in Japan!

Whether traveling alone or with friends or family, Tanabata festivals are an excellent way to experience Japanese culture firsthand, so if you happen to be traveling in July or August, make sure to stop by one of these exciting events. You won't regret it!

Main image by Pixta

The information presented in this article is based on the time it was written. Note that there may be changes in the merchandise, services, and prices that have occurred after this article was published. Please contact the facility or facilities in this article directly before visiting.