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Summer festivals in Tokyo’s Shitamachi area

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2018.07.04 (Wed)

Come out to Asakusa, Iriya, and Ueno this week and see how the people of Tokyo celebrate the summer.

2018 Shitamachi Tanabata in Kappabashi

July 7 is Tanabata and the Kappabashi Hon-dori Street between Asakusa and Ueno is lavishly decorated for it. Ornaments, streamers and bamboo branches line the street and dance in the wind.

This is a great place to take pictures now. Looking down the street towards Asakusa the colorful decorations frame Tokyo Skytree in the distance. You can also make a wish while you are here. Write it down and hang the paper on one of the branches. This is a Japanese Tanabata custom.

On Saturday and Sunday (July 8 and 9) food stalls will be set up and the Tanabata Festival will be celebrated with performances and a parade. Come and have some snacks from the vendors. Japanese festival foods are very tasty. Located along Kappabashi Hon-dori Street are also many restaurants, cafes, and bars.

The story behind Tanabata is an old legend about love. Princess Orihime, daughter of the Heaven God, and the cow herder Hikoboshi were deeply in love. So much where they thinking about each other that they did not pay enough attention to their work and forgot about their duties. So the Heaven God separated them, sending them to opposite sides of the Milky Way. Just once a year are theyallowed to meet on July 7.

Iriya Asagao Matsuri – Morning Glory Flower Market

This flower market and festival is taking place July 6 to 8 near the Iriya Kishimojin Temple (Shingen-ji) and surrounding areas. Many vendors set up their stalls in the streets near the temple next to the Iriya subway station. Asagao (morning glory) is very popular in Tokyo and in the summer you can see many people grow it on their balconies. Check out the different shades and shapes of these beautiful flowers.

Hozuki-Ichi – Chinese Lantern Flower Festival at Senso-ji Temple

At Senso-ji Temple in Asakusa, July 10 is an especially auspicious day, the Day of 46,000 Blessings. It is said that praying to Bodhisattva Kannon here on this day is equivalent to praying every day for 46,000 days. On July 9 and 10, the temple grounds turn into a flower market for Hozuki, Chinese Lantern plants. The name of the plant comes from its flowers that are like shining orange red lanterns.

You can buy whole plants or long branches covered in the bright flowers. Delivery can be arranged if you want to send a plant to yourself or to someone else as a gift. If you cannot take a flower home buy a Furin wind chime at the market. The chimes are made of glass and painted with motifs of things that are associated with summer in Japan like cute goldfish, Asagao, and other flowers.

Come check out these events in Tokyo’s old Shitamachi area and celebrate early summer in Japan with the locals.

Mark you calendar! The Sumida River Fireworks Festival will take place in the evening of July 28, 2018.

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