Tanabata is an August event at Asagaya Pearl Center. You might think that a little strange as many 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 since they can celebrate it twice.
Asagaya Pearl Center is a shopping arcade in Suginami ward. For Tanabata, they put on a four-day show. This one is a little different. They hang giant paper-mâché dolls and traditional decorations from its roof.
The arcade is about one kilometer in length. As the event gets pretty crowded, it takes a long time to walk the distance. You can have a nice time there with the stalls offering many things to eat and drink. Then all you need to do is look up and enjoy the dolls.
In 2017, they included Winnie the Pooh and Orihime (the princess from the Tanabata story). Of course, there were many more. Some are huge, several meters long, while others are very small, less than one meter long.
A few are there every year, like Doraemon, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Anpanman. The newest ones were Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character from Pirates of the Caribbean and Pinocchio. 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 with 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 Pearl Center for Tanabata. The paper-mâché dolls make it something a little different. It is a lot of fun, especially for those with kids.
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