LA Tanabata Festival Set for August 13-22 in JANM

Kazari are a colorful feature of the Tanabata Festival. (© Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association)

The 12thth The Los Angeles Tanabata Festival opens on Saturday, August 13 and the giant 7-foot Kazari (Decorations) will remain on display at the Japan-American National Museum in Little Tokyo until August 22.

The exhibition will be part of the Natsumatsuri Family Festival presented by JANM on August 13th from 11am to 5pm. Admission is free on the day and the public is invited to attend, but reservations are encouraged.

A highlight of the festival are the spectacular, award-winning Kazari Shipping from Sendai, Japan. They can be viewed outdoors on the JANM building during the Nisei Week celebrations.

The Tanabata Festival features giant handcrafted decorations to celebrate the traditional festival, which dates back to the 16th centurythCentury in Japan, at the beginning of the Edo period. It is a festival on the seventh day of the seventh month and brings the legend of the princess and the cowherd to colorful life in the form of seven decorations:

Tanzaku (paper strips with handwritten wishes)

Orizuru (Paper cranes as a symbol for a long and healthy life)

kinchaku (Purses symbolize wealth and good business)

Toami (paper nets to not only catch big fish but also good luck)

Kamigoromo (Paper kimono to show desire for improved sewing and artistic skills)

Kuzukago (Delicate paper garbage bags to celebrate cleanliness and frugality)

And perhaps the most famous of them fukinagashi (long streamers of paper hanging from a frame to symbolize the art of weaving), usually hung under a round ball or box frame.

The first Los Angeles Tanabata Festival was inaugurated in 2009 and sponsored by Little Tokyo Koban (Public Safety), the Kenjinkai Kyogi Kai and the Nisei Week Japanese Festival.

This year, Tanabata joins JANM’s annual summer celebration. Natsumatsuri offers cultural performances, crafts and activities for families and children of all ages. Celebrations include dynamic drumming by Makoto Taiko, music by Mariachi Arcoiris de Los Angeles, interactive stories led by authors and librarians, Tanzaku Bamboo wishing tree, Bon Odori traditional dance class, Obon festival themed origami, summer celebration crafts, festival themed photo booth, prize scavenger hunt, exclusive benefits for JANM members and free entry to exhibitions.

Be Here / 1942: A New Lens on the Japanese American Incarceration and Sutra & Bible: Faith and the Japanese American World War II Incarceration are currently on display at the museum.

Natsumatsuri is free but RSVPs are encouraged. The Japan-American National Museum is located at 100 N. Central Ave. (on First Street) in Little Tokyo.

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