Tanabata Festival Set for Aug. 14-17

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Workshops continue at Little Tokyo Koban.

On behalf of the Tanabata Festival, Brian Kito presented a plaque to Ichiro Shiromatsu in 2010.

On behalf of the Tanabata Festival, Brian Kito presented a plaque to Ichiro Shiromatsu in 2010.

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

This year’s theme is “Heart and Soul” and is dedicated to the memory of long-time community volunteer Nancy Kikuchi.

This year’s special guest is Ichiro Shiromatsu, who has supported the festival since its inception by sending 10 giant award-winning kazari from the long-running Sendai Tanabata Festival. He is the third-generation president of Shiromatsu Ga Monaka, established in 1932 by his grandfather. The company is a multiple award winner for excellent facilities and is nationally known for producing the finest quality confections in Japan.

The Community Kazari will be unveiled during the opening ceremony, which will be held on Friday, Aug. 14, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the festival site on Central Avenue and First Street.

The committee announces an expanded workshop schedule to include Saturdays and Sundays through Aug. 8 and 9. The flower-making workshops for the kazari (decorations) will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Koban, located at 307 E. First St. in Little Tokyo. The phone number is (213) 613-1911.

The committee wants to encourage people to volunteer to help make the festival a success. Festival set-up starts on Tuesday, Aug. 11, and final close-down is set for Tuesday, Aug. 18. Certificates of community service will be provided for high school students and basketball team members. For more information, visit the website at www.tanabatalosangeles.org.

The festival celebrates the legend of the annual meeting of star 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 are the large, colorful, and ornate streamers that are prominently displayed along streets and markets.  Participants also celebrate, by writing wishes on small strips of paper (tanzaku) and hanging them from decorated bamboo branches.

The Tanabata Festival features 7-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.

Admission is free and a favorite is the all-day free entertainment under the tented area of Parking Lot 7. Booths offering traditional Japanese festival food, games, beer and a raffle will be open on both days. Arts and crafts vendors will be on the Doizaki Plaza of the Japanese American National Museum on First and Central.

The Tanabata Festival held kazari workshops during the Fiesta Matsuri in May at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

The Tanabata Festival held kazari workshops during the Fiesta Matsuri in May at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

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