Things to Do at the Sendai Tanabata Festival
During the Sendai Tanabata Festival, large parts of the city turn into a large festival zone full of things to see and do. Here’s a guide to some of its highlights.
Gaze at all the colorful decorations
One of the festival’s main highlights is the thousands of colorful paper streamers and other beautiful decorations that can be seen in large parts of the city center. The majority of these kaleidoscopic designs can be found hanging along the Ichibancho and the Chuo shopping streets, both of which are walking distance from the JR Sendai Station. If you follow the Chuo shopping streets west of the station, you will eventually reach the well decorated Ichibancho shopping street which leads north up to Kotodai Park. There are also some illuminations along the Juzenji-dori which are worth checking out, especially at nighttime. This street runs from east to west adjacent to Kotodai Park.
Visit the Omatsuri-hiroba
A big stage is located at the festival area in Kotodai Park, where various performances take place both at daytime and at night. The program includes everything from performances aimed towards children, to traditional dance performances and live music performed by various bands. Since the line-up varies greatly from year to year, we recommend that you take a look at the official website so you don’t miss out on the performances that interest you the most.
Make your own Tanabata decorations
Paper decorations are a key part of the Tanabata spirit. So, why not try making your own? Head to Kotodai Park where you’ll find a small workshop space where you can learn how to make small version of the paper streamers that can be seen all over town for a small fee. Be sure to take a look at the other stalls around the park; another tent offers the opportunity to write a wish on a tanzaku paper and hang it on a bamboo branch.
Dance at the Bon Odori
No Japanese festival is complete without dancing. But unlike most of the other Tohoku festivals, this one is not particularly focused on dance. One exception, however, is a small stage tucked away in a corner of Kotodai Park, where you can either watch or join a group of Bon Odori dancers. Bon Odori is a traditional dance performed to Japanese folk songs that is made up of simple moves making it an easy dance for everyone to join in.
Hunt down the smaller performances
During the festival, there are plenty of other performances taking place all over town. These range from smaller music performances by various local talents, to traditional Japanese puppet shows and events organized by local shops. Just wander around and you’ll most definitely find plenty of interesting things happening, no matter where you look.