7th Annual L.A. Tanabata Festival Set for Aug. 14-17

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Workshop to make giant ‘Heart & Soul’ community kazari on May 3.

Junko Yonezawa (left), chair of the workshop committee for the Los Angeles Tanabata Festival, demonstrates how to make flowers for kazari Japanese decorations for the upcoming Los Angeles Tanabata Festival, to be held Aug. 14 to 17 in Little Tokyo.

Junko Yonezawa (left), chair of the workshop committee for the Los Angeles Tanabata Festival, demonstrates how to make flowers for kazari Japanese decorations for the upcoming Los Angeles Tanabata Festival, to be held Aug. 14 to 17 in Little Tokyo.

The seventh annual Los Angeles Tanabata Festival will take place on Aug. 14 to 17 in Little Tokyo.

This year’s theme is “Heart & Soul” and the giant community kazari will be unveiled on Friday, Aug. 14, at the opening ceremony of this year’s Tanabata Festival.

The community is invited to help make the giant community kazari and learn how to make their own kazari for the festival, which celebrates the legend of the annual meeting of star-crossed lovers, the Ox Herder (Altair) and the Weaver Princess (Vega), who are separated by the Milky Way the rest of the year.

The largest Tanabata Festival has been held in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture since the 1600s. The centerpieces of the festival are the large, colorful, and ornate streamers (kazari) that are prominently displayed along streets and markets. Participants also celebrate by writing wishes in small strips of paper (tanzaku) and hanging them from decorated bamboo branches.

The Tanabata Festival features hundreds of seven-foot kazari from the community and the 10 winning kazari from the Sendai Tanabata Festival on display in front of MOCA at the Geffen Contemporary Museum on First Street and Central Avenue.

The festival is free of charge and a favorite is the all-day entertainment under the tented area in Parking Lot 7. There will be food booths, games, a beer booth and a raffle on both days. Arts and crafts vendors will be in the Doizaki Plaza of the Japanese American National Museum.

The kazari flower making workshops will be held on Saturdays and Sundays at the Koban, 307 E. First St. in Little Tokyo. Additional off-site workshops in the community are scheduled. This year, two origami lectures will be given on Sunday, May 24 and July 26, at the Koban.

The following workshop schedule is subject to change. For updates, visit www.tanabatalosangeles.org.

Sunday, May 3: Community kazari flower making at Fiesta Matsuri, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center, 244 S. San Pedro St. Info: www.jaccc.org

Sunday, May 10, 17, 24 and 31, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Koban. Origami lecture from 1 to 3 p.m. on May 24. Info: (213) 613-1911.

Saturday, June 6, 13 and 27, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Koban.

Saturday, June 20, at Tanaka Farms, 5380 University Dr., Irvine. Info: (949) 653-2100

Sunday, July 19 and 26, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Koban. Origami lecture from 1 to 3 p.m. on July 26.

Sunday, July 12, at 20th annual Bridge USA Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival), Torrance Cultural Arts Center, 3330 Civic Center Dr., Torrance,

Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Koban.

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