The ninth annual Los Angeles Tanabata Festival is set for Friday, Aug. 18, through Sunday, Aug. 20, as part of the 77th Nisei Week Japanese Festival.
The Tanabata Festival offers stunning giant kazari decorations, entertainment, arts and crafts vendors, traditional Japanese food booths, games for the kids and information. The admission-free event is located on the outdoor plaza of MOCA at the Geffen and the Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Ave. at First Street in historic Little Tokyo.
The festivities kick off Aug. 18 with the opening ceremony from 5 to 7 p.m., featuring Minyo Station, Scott Nagatani, Nancy Teramura Hayata and Yuujou Taiko. The Kazari Contest winners will be announced and the traditional breaking of the sake barrel, sponsored by Mutual Trading, will take place. The festival continues Aug. 19 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Aug. 20 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The highlight of the Tanabata Festival is the seven-foot kazari decorations, which date back to the Sendai Festival in Japan. The kazari are created by members of the greater Los Angeles community from nonprofit organizations, individuals/families, Japanese prefectural association groups, businesses and government offices to come together to celebrate their cultural heritage.
This year the theme is “Hero,” and by creating a kazari we celebrate the legendary love of Orihime and Hikoboshi, on which the Tanabata legend is based, and the wish for a loving future. Each kazari is an earthly representation of a star in the Milky Way that can become our wish for something beautiful for us and our community.
Seven new arts and crafts vendors join the festival this year from San Francisco, Daly City and Oregon. Games for the kids this year include Momotaro and Musashi Golf, provided by the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.
Food booths sponsored by community organizations include Miyagi Kenjinkai, nigiri; Miyazaki Kenjinkai, soba; Orange County Buddhist Church, shaved ice; Gifu and Saga Kenjinkai, yakitori; Koban/Little Tokyo Public Safety Association, Fugetsu-Do, manju and drinks; takoyaki and the popular Kirin Beer Garden.
Saturday, Aug. 19
10:15–10:45 a.m. — Hikari Taiko
10:45–11:15 a.m. — Little Tokyo Geta Dance Troupe
11:15–11:45 a.m. — Classical Japanese Dance Group with Nancy Teramura Hayata
11:45 a.m.–12 p.m. —Matsubayashi Shorin-Ryu Dojo of Little Tokyo with Art Ishii
12:30–1 p.m. — Kendama performance by Anime Jungle
1–2:30 p.m. — Ronin Stones (formerly known as Local Mojo)
2:45–3:15 p.m. — Yuna & Tida
3:15–4:15 p.m. — FOB Four with Brian Yamamoto
4:15–4:45 p.m. — Senryu Contest Awards
4:45–5:30 p.m. — Erica
5:30–6:30 p.m. — Lolita Dark
6:30–7:15 p.m. — Stephnie Yanez and Band
7:30–8:15 p.m. — Kaoru Enjoji and Band
Sunday, Aug. 20
10:15–10:45 a.m. — Taiko with Ken Koshio
10:45–11:15 a.m. — Twin Stars with Amy Singer
11:15 a.m. –12 p.m. — Hawaiian entertainment
12–12:30 p.m. — Harajuku fashion performance by Fickle Wish
1–2 p.m. — Atomic Project with founder Benny Yee and original Hiroshima band members with special guest Marisa Kosugi
2:15–2:45 p.m. — Awa Odori Tokushima-Ren
2:45–3 p.m. — Kazari Contest People’s Choice Awards announced
3-4:30 p.m. — Karaoke Singing Contest
Photo Contest — Call for Entries
Entrants are encouraged to take photos at the Tanabata Festival. Photo submission period: Aug. 18 to 31. Photos may be submitted in five categories: cosplay, cultural, creative, kids, and on-stage entertainment.
Photos will be judged in September by Mario Reyes of The Rafu Shimpo and Alan Miyatake of Miyatake Studio. Winners will be announced on Oct. 22.
All submissions must be digital and submitted by email. Photos will be judged online.
Top prize: Miyako Hotel Los Angeles accommodations plus $100 gift card. Category winners: $20 restaurant gift cards.