2017 Shitamachi Tanabata in Kappabashi
July 7 is Tanabata in Japan, also called the Star Festival. It is an old custom to make a wish on this day. You write your wish on a piece of paper and then hang it on a bamboo branch. The bamboo branches are often decorated with paper ornaments showing the stars and the Milky Way.
This is the Tanabata story. According to legend, the seventh day of the seventh month is the only day that two lovers living in the sky are permitted to see each other. Princess Orihime, the daughter of the Heaven God and the cow herder Hikoboshi were so much in love that they forgot about their duties. So the Heaven God separated them by the Milky Way, which is called the River in Heaven in Japanese. If there is no rain and the River does not flood, then the two lovers can meet on July 7 and make wishes come true.
Kappabashi Hon-dori Street between Ueno and Asakusa is now decorated with colorful ornaments, streamers and bamboo branches full of wishes for Tanabata. On Saturday and Sunday (July 8 and 9), you can enjoy the decorations, street performances, and summer festival foods at the 2017 Shitamachi Tanabata.
Combine your walk through Kappabashi Hon-dori with a visit to Kappabashi Dougugai here. Kappabashi is the center of Tokyo’s “Kitchen Town” where you can find every kind of cooking tool. Shops sell imported and Japanese products. If you are looking for something typically Japanese, take a look at Japanese cups, tea tins, bowls, bento boxes, chopsticks, and knives.