2010 / Nisei Week / Star Festival becoming largest participation project

Cultural News 2010 July Issue

Tanabata Festival Little Tokyo

A colorful Tanabata Kazari (paper ornament streamer) is designed and constructed by each community group to participate in the Los Angeles Tanabata (Star) Festival. (Cultural News Photo)

The 2nd Annual Los Angeles Tanabata Festival (the Star Festival) will be held from August 13 – 16 at the open space of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) on First Street and Central Avenue in Little Tokyo to coincide with the Nisei Week Japanese Festival.

Last year’s event involved 240 colorful Tanabata Kazari (paper ornament streamer) that were made by over 3000 community members, young and old.

Truly, this was the largest participation project in the Japanese and Japanese American community in Los Angeles ever. This year, the Los Angeles Tanabata Festival will have 10 prize winning Kazari from Japan, donated by the Shiromatsu Monaka Co. of Sendai in Miyagi Prefecture.

During the Little Tokyo Children’s Day event held this past May 15 and 16, the Narumi Paper Company from Sendai conducted workshops constructing one large Kazari. Over 300 adults and children helped make flowers for this community Kazari. It will stand close to 20 feet high and feature a Geisha on the hanging washi (Japanese) paper.

The Tanabata festivals celebrate the once-a-year meeting of star lovers, the Cow Herder and the Weaver Princess, who are separated by the Milky Way during the other 364 days of the year.

Although held in several cities throughout Japan, the largest Tanabata Festival

has been held in Sendai City in Miyagi Prefecture since 1946, although it was celebrated in a much smaller scale since the 1600s.

In ancient times, Tanabata came to Japan from China during a time when one prayed to the stars for proficiency in sewing and calligraphy.

The prayers were written on multicolored paper streamers attached to bamboo poles along with decorations for display in the family garden.

This meeting of two star lovers occurs on July 7, but in Sendai, the Tanabata Festival is celebrated one month later, on August 6 through 8, when the streets of Sendai are covered with elaborate and glittering decorations that are famous throughout all Japan.

And during the three days of this festival, fabulous parades crowd the streets every day. Currently, this festival has gained popularity throughout the world.

In San Paulo City in Brazil, the Tanabata Festival has been celebrated every year since 1979, with the support of Miyagi Prefecture and Sendai City.

In Los Angeles, the first Tanabata Festival was organized by the Japanese and Japanese American community with the support of Miyagi Prefecture Association of Southern California.

This year, the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Tanabata Festival will take place on Friday, August 13 at 5 pm. Stage programs will be presented and booths will be opened on Saturday, August 14 and Sunday, August 15, from noon to 8 pm.

(Source: http://jhills-tanabata.community.officelive.com)