Photo: Laika ac (CC)

Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri

Dancing, food, performances in the heart of Old Tokyo

Photo: Laika ac (CC)
Venue: Asakusa When: Early Jul 2022

The Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri is one of the most well-known Tanabata festival celebrations. This four-day festival runs from Ueno to Asakusa. It is to celebrate the meeting of two deities: Orihime and Hikoboshi, star-crossed lovers who are only allowed to meet once a year.

Held around July 7, the festival features dancing, eating, and drinking at local stalls, and live entertainment that includes street performances as well as traditional acts like shamisen (a traditional Japanese instrument) and taiko (Japanese percussion instrument) on Saturday. But the main attraction is the parade on Sunday topped with countless decorations.

A fun festival traditional custom invites attendees to write down their wishes on paper and tie it to the bamboo branches that line the streets. The Tanabata festival originates from the Chinese Qixi Festival and is also celebrated throughout Southeast Asia (where it is known as the Star Festival).

It's a great way to soak in the summer around the streets of Tokyo.

Was this article helpful?

Suggest an edit

Jianne Soriano

Jianne Soriano @jianne.soriano

Hong Kong-born Filipino studying International Journalism. Loves photography, travel and East Asian cinema.

Join the discussion

Elena Lisina 2 years ago
I found next year 2020 Shitamachi Tanabata is on July 4 and 5. I come on July 6, alas! :(((
Elena Lisina 2 years ago
Is it on the same dates each year or different?
Elena Lisina 2 years ago
Thank you, Sebastien!
Kim 2 years ago
Love all the decorations for tanabata matsuri!
Sleiman Azizi 3 years ago
Downtown festivals really are something worth experiencing.