Asagaya Tanabata Festival returns for summer 2023

Tanabata Orihime
Orihime - the weaving princess.

The 67th Asagaya Tanabata Festival is back after a four-year break. The event, held at the height of summer, has been an ongoing tradition since 1954. Well, due to the pandemic, it did have a hiatus. Anyway, it is here again and drawing huge crowds even in the summer heat.

The venue is the Asagaya Pearl Center shopping street. This Tanabata is different from others like Zojoji. This one has gigantic handmade ‘haribote’ (paper-mache figures). If you’ve been following this blog for some time, you’ve seen them from previous years.

cat jazz pianist haribote
Cool cats play piano in Jazz Street.

The people of the shopping street create these ‘haribote’. They incorporate current trends, traditions, and ideas in their models. Bamboo decorations, ball ornaments, and streamers are also added for color and flair.

I thought this year’s models were the best I have ever seen. Some were incredible. The One Piece Monkey D. Luffy was the best. He was perfect and seemed life-like.

Monkey D Luffy haribote
Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece.

Another one I enjoyed was the Arcadia with its skull and crossbones on the bow. It’s Captain Harlock’s spaceship. He is a pirate I’ve enjoyed watching his animation and movies for many years. You can catch one of his movies on Netflix.

During the festival, many shops set up stalls in front of their premises. Most sell food and drinks. But some even offer games like goldfish scooping.

Captain Harlock Arcadia pirate spaceship
Captain Harlock's Arcadia pirate spaceship.

I went to the Asagaya Tanabata Festival’s opening day, Friday, August 4. There was a good-sized crowd. The weekend would probably be far more crowded. Unfortunately, I won’t have time for that as I need to study for an upcoming guiding job.

Asagaya Tanabata Festival 2023 details

  • Dates: August 4th (Friday) – August 8th (Tuesday)
  • Venue: Asagaya Pearl Center
  • Address: Asagaya Minami, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
  • Closest Station: Asagaya Station (Sobu, Chuo, and Tozai lines).
Kintaro golden boy paper mache model
Kintaro - the young hero from Japanese folklore.

Wrapping up

Asagaya Pearl Center is great for Tanabata lovers. It happens in August, so if you missed the July event you get another chance to see it. And the style is different too. No other place in Tokyo celebrates it like this.

Photographing the models is easy. All you need to do is aim your camera at the ceiling. That’s it. And one more thing. Many people go in yukatas. So if you like that type of thing, that’ll be a bonus.

Please remember to keep hydrated. Summer 2023 has been brutal in Tokyo. Keep a drink handy as you will sweat a lot if you go outside. Asagaya Tanabata Festival has a roof, but I found it didn’t help much. It was hot. Still, it was a good chance to photograph another traditional Japanese event.

External Japanese articles about Asagaya Tanabata Festival 2023:

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