Tanabata Festival Kicks Off Today

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The Tanabata Festival makes its second appearance during Nisei Week, kicking off with an opening ceremony this Friday at 5 p.m. in the plaza in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Admission is free and all are welcome.

Handmade tanabata ornaments

Tanabata ornaments hang in front of MOCA.

Visitors will enjoy a breathtaking display as Little Tokyo is washed in a sea of color from Aug. 13 to 16. Hundreds of traditional Japanese streamers, known as kazari were made by local community and nonprofit organizations for the festival, which will also feature Japanese food, games and live entertainment. The Tanabata Festival (the Star Festival) is based on the folk legend of the Cowherd Star (Altair) and The Weaver Princess Star (Vega) – two lovers whose paths cross the Milky Way once a year.

In May, Koichiro Narumi, the 6th generation general manager of the Narumiya Kamishoji Company, and the company’s Tanabata project coordinator, Ranko Yamamura, came from Sendai City to lead a tanabata workshop in Little Tokyo. More than 300 adults and children worked to create at 20-foot-high tanabata, which will be a centerpiece in the festival.

“It’s great to see the grandfathers and grandmothers working together on an ornament with their grandchild, to be able to create a space for them to interact. That’s what I hope to contribute to the community through what I do,” said Narumi.

The festival is sponsored by the Nisei Week Foundation, in conjunction with the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyojikai and the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association.

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