Asagaya Pearl Center Tanabata 2017: A Paper-Mache Tradition

Asagaya Pearl Center celebrates Tanabata in August.  You might think that is a little strange as most places in Japan hold it in July.  But some do it by the old Japanese calendar.  That is good for people who love this festival.  Why?  Because they can celebrate it twice!

If you don’t know Asagaya Pearl Center, here is some information. It is a local shopping arcade in Suginami Ward.  Some people might describe it as retro.

For Tanabata, they put on a four-day show.  It is a little different.  They hang giant paper-mâché dolls and traditional decorations from their roof. The entire length of the one-kilometer arcade is decorated with them.

Walking the length of the arcade takes some time during the festival as it gets crowded. But you can enjoy yourself eating and drinking things from the stalls the shops put up. Then all you need to do is look up and enjoy the dolls.

In 2017, Asagaya Pearl Center had many great dolls. They included Winnie the Pooh and Orihime (the princess from the Tanabata story). Of course, there were many more. Some were huge, several meters long, while others were small, less than one meter long.

Tanabata Orihime and Hikoboshi in Asagaya
Tanabata's main stars Orihime and Hikoboshi.

A few, like Doraemon, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Anpanman are there every year.  Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Caribbean and Pinocchio made their debut.  They were very, very good.  But my favorite was Gru from Despicable Me, flanked by some minions.

The only problem I had with the 2017 festival was timing.  Due to work, I went on the Saturday.  That was a slight mistake in retrospect because it was incredibly crowded.  There were many mums and dads with their kids, lots of couples, and many people like me with cameras.

I highly recommend Asagaya Pearl Center for Tanabata. The paper-mâché dolls make it something a little different.  It is a lot of fun, especially for those in Tokyo with kids. 

For more Asagaya Pearl Center Tanabata articles, look at:

External Japanese websites about Asagaya Tanabata 2017

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