On the 7th day of the 7th month, Tanabata (star festival) marks the once a year tryst between the dieties Orihime and Hikobshi. As legend goes, if it’s cloudy, they have to wait another year. Since it was cloudy last year, there is bound to be some built up tension for this Sunday. The biggest Tanabata celebration in the Kanto region happens in Hiratsuka in the Shonan region of Kanagawa. The crowds are massive and the journey not short from central Tokyo, so if you’d like to try something a little closer to central Tokyo, head to the 26th Shitamachi Tanabata Festival (link in Japanese). The parade will take place on both Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th on Kappa Bashi Hon dori between Ueno and Asakusa stations. The parade takes place from 1:15pm to 2:30pm on each day with various festivities continuing into the early evening. One of the more exciting aspects of having the festival in Shitamachi will be watching the parade participants deftly maneuvering the tall decorated Tanabata poles around the low hanging electrical wires for which the area is known.
Over at Yoyogi Park, also with a few token aspects of Tanabata, is Earth Garden Summer Festival. As the name suggests, this is the summer version of this event with seasonal variations happening in Autumn, Winter and Spring. It’s hard to work out what the hell this festival is actually about (presumably something ecological?), but they have a huge music line-up, with 4 (!) separate stages featuring live performances and DJ sets. The festival takes place in the event square on both Saturday and Sunday from 10am until about 7:30pm. Admission is free and the closest station is Harajuku/Meiji-jingumae on the JR Yamanote and Tokyo Metro lines.
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