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Complete Guide to the Sendai Tanabata Festival 2022: Best Things to See and Do (Aug 6-8)

Complete Guide to the Sendai Tanabata Festival 2022: Best Things to See and Do (Aug 6-8)

Date published: 10 July 2020
Last updated: 29 July 2022

The Sendai Tanabata Festival is a beautiful summer tradition held every year between August 6 to 8 in Sendai, a central city in Japan’s Tohoku region. The Tanabata Festival is known as one of the Tohoku region’s three major festivals, alongside Aomori’s Nebuta Festival and Akita’s Kanto Festival.

TOP Photo: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

Table of Contents
  1. Basic Information on the 2022 Sendai Tanabata Festival
  2. Schedule for the 2022 Sendai Tanabata Festival and Related Events
  3. What is the Sendai Tanabata Festival?
  4. Interviewing a Festival Director: Expectations for the Festival and How to Enjoy the Streamers
  5. Getting to the Sendai Tanabata Festival
  6. Highlight 1: Festival venue
  7. Highlight 2: Zuihōden Tanabata Night
  8. Highlight 3: Sendai Castle Ruins Night Event
  9. Enjoying Sendai Tanabata Festival Local-Style
  10. Getting to the Sendai Tanabata Festival
  11. Where to stay for the Sendai Tanabata Festival
  12. A Festival with a Romantic Atmosphere

The Sendai Tanabata Festival is a representative summer event that stands out from the three due to its romantic, colorful, and overall unique atmosphere. Because it’s held along shopping streets in and around central Sendai, visitors can enjoy festivities no matter where they are! Sendai Tanabata Festival’s main attraction is its large, vibrant streamers that color the entire city! The people of Sendai look forward to these decorations each year.

For this article, we interviewed the Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association (Bureau: Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry) on their thoughts and expectations for the event while also receiving advice on the best way to enjoy it!

In addition to this, we’ve included the 2022 festival days, how to get around, and nearby accommodation facilities! Let’s take a look at what the Sendai Tanabata Festival has to offer!

Basic Information on the 2022 Sendai Tanabata Festival

The Sendai Tanabata Festival was canceled in 2020 and scaled down in 2021 due to the spread of Covid-19. In 2022, the festival is scheduled to be held while implementing countermeasures against the virus.

The 2022 Sendai Tanabata Festival will be held for three days, from August 6th until August 8th. During this time, Sendai City is enveloped in a romantic atmosphere as Tanabata colors brighten the shopping streets near Sendai Station and its surrounding neighborhoods! To avoid the spread of Covid-19, streamers will be placed at least two meters off the ground, out of reach from visitors.

Though the festival previously had performances on stage, they've been canceled to avoid the spread of Covid-19. Visitors are asked to wear masks and stay to their right when walking through the venue. There are also restrictions on food stalls.
(*Please follow instructions at the venue for further Covid-19 countermeasures.)

Schedule for the 2022 Sendai Tanabata Festival and Related Events

Sendai Tanabata Festival Period: August 6, 2022 to August 8, 2022
Venue: Shopping streets nearby Sendai Station, such as Heartful Amenity Place Interfaced Natural Arcade and Vlandome Ichibancho

Hours and Events:
Tanabata Decorating
From August 6, 2022 until the last day on August 8, 2022

Sendai Tanabata Fireworks Festival
August 5th (Friday) 7:15 p.m. - 8:15 p.m.
Venue: (scheduled for) Nishi Park and its surrounding areas

Sendai Castle Ruins Night Event
August 6th (Saturday) 6:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Venue: Sendai Castle Ruins

Please refer to the official websites for updated information (Japanese and online automatic translations available).

What is the Sendai Tanabata Festival?

Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association
Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

Tanabata is a fabulous traditional event brought over to Japan from ancient China and is a mix of a few cultural points.

Currently, however, the festival is most popularly known in Japan as a summer festival where wishes are written on a strip of paper known as tanzaku, which are then hung up on trees.

The first feudal lord of Sendai, Masamune Date (1567 to 1636 C.E.), promoted the event as a festival to wish for craftwork proficiency and an abundant harvest, resulting in the event being held every year between August 6 to 8 regardless of the day of the week. This charming traditional summer event of Sendai sees about 2 million visitors annually.

One of the most memorable scenes unique to Sendai's Tanabata Festival is the impressive sight of sasakazari - flamboyant paper bamboo leaves decorations suspended from tall places by the sides of the arcade leading out from the West Exit of Sendai Station on the JR Lines.

The drooping leaves, made of colorful Japanese paper, are arranged fukinagashi, or windswept-style, and walking in between long rows of them will put anyone in a festive mood.

They represent the earnest wishes for the health and prosperity of the residents who carefully crafted them.

Interviewing a Festival Director: Expectations for the Festival and How to Enjoy the Streamers

Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association
Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

Beautiful and large streamers adorn the Sendai Tanabata Festival! Each of these decorations weighs up to five kilograms and can cost up to hundreds of thousands of yen (thousands of dollars) to make.

What’s more, all streamers are handmade! Some shop owners even come up with designs themselves. Getting a good firsthand look at such elaborate decorations is a major highlight of this festival.

The 2020 Sendai Tanabata Festival cancellation marked the first cancellation since Japan’s postwar era and was an absolutely heartbreaking decision. However, the purpose of this festival is to celebrate one’s wishes and prayers.

With this in mind, shopping streets kept traditions alive by raising money for future events with mini-Tanabata decorations and other trinkets. Anticipation for the next event was built by finding creative ways to bring back Tanabata decorations while keeping Covid-19 countermeasures in mind.

Furthermore, this festival not only passes down tradition but also promotes the city’s economic growth! With previous celebrations welcoming up to two million visitors, the 2020 cancellation impacted the local economy significantly. Though the 2021 festival was held at a smaller scale due to Covid-19, it breathed some life back into Sendai’s shopping streets.

A festival director recommended that we try finding the award-winning streamers throughout the festival! Every year, gold, silver, and bronze awards are given out before noon on the first day. It’s a fun game to see if you can guess which streamers have won! You might even come across some entertaining surprises along the way!

(*Whether or not the 2022 streamer contest is to be held will depend on the Covid-19 situation at the time.)

We found the bronze-winning streamer! (a photo from the 2019 festival) *Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association
We found the bronze-winning streamer! (a photo from the 2019 festival) *Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

One of the festival directors spoke with us, commenting, “Not having any streamers in 2020 was very sad.” However, with the 2022 festival scheduled to be held, it seems like there will be more festivals to look forward to! The festival director added, “We welcome anyone to come to future Sendai Tanabata Festivals!”

Getting to the Sendai Tanabata Festival

Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association
Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

The most efficient way to ensure you can take in all the sights of the festival is to start from Sendai Station and slowly walk through the paper bamboo leaves-decorated arcade street while making your way towards Kotodai Park.

Other areas in the city will hold festive events or have sasakazari up during this period, so it may be fun to visit them too!

The official website for the festival (https://www.sendaitanabata.com/map) contains a helpful guide map that supports English, Traditional Chinese, and Thai for interested visitors to find out more.

Highlight 1: Festival venue

Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association
Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

The main venue takes just three minutes to reach via the subway's Nanboku Line from Sendai Station. Disembark at Kotodaikoen Station and take the Park Exit 2. This will bring you to Kotodai Park, located near Omatsuri Hiroba, the festival's main venue.

Major attractions of the venue include stage shows with live singing and dancing, as well as festival-related sections such as the Wish Writing Corner, where slips of tanzaku paper are available for visitors to write their wishes on, then hang them up on branches. Festival booths selling an assortment of Sendai delicacies like grilled ox tongue (Sendai gyutan) and Miyagi oysters will be set up around the area throughout the festival as well.

Around sunset, the Bon Odori, an energetic dance that is a feature of almost all Japanese festivals, will start being performed, and all are invited to join in. Dance lectures for beginners are held so that everyone can have fun even if they've never danced before. There's no need to be shy if you're interested in participating - jump right in!

The festival venue will not be open in 2022.

Highlight 2: Zuihōden Tanabata Night

Photo provided by: Zuihōden
Photo provided by: Zuihōden

Hop onto the Loople Sendai, a sightseeing bus that departs from Sendai Station. In about 15 minutes, disembark at the bus stop called Zuihōdenmae, which is right in front of the mausoleum Zuihōden, the final resting place of Masamune Date.

During the period where the Zuihōden Tanabata Night is being hosted here, the building is decorated with beautiful Tanabata decorations for all to admire.

Right after disembarking from the bus, you’ll find yourself in front of the stone steps approach leading to Zuihōden. The path is lit up by gentle candlelight coming from within the bamboo lanterns placed alongside, and there are bamboo flute performances as well.

All of these create a fantastical atmosphere for visitors to bask in. The entrance to Zuihōden’s premises will also be decorated using traditional Tanabata ornaments passed down from ancient times.

A mini-concert by artists with connections to Miyagi will be held as well. All are welcome to take a seat in front of the stage at any time to enjoy the show at leisure.

The mini-concert and other events planned for the Zuihōden Tanabata Night have been canceled for 2022. In place, as ‘Zuihōden Tanabata Omotenashi,’ traditional Tanabata decorations will be displayed in front of Nehon Gate, and the grounds will have a light-up event in the evening.

  • Zuihōden Tanabata Night
    瑞鳳殿七夕ナイト
    • Address 23-2, Otamayashita, Sendai, Aoba, Miyagi, 980-0814
    • ・TEL: 022-262-6250 (Zuihōden)
      ・Hours: August 6 to 8, 6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
      ・Entry fee: 570 yen (450 yen for visitors who take the Loople Sendai Tanabata Night bus)

Highlight 3: Sendai Castle Ruins Night Event

Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association
Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

One more must-see night event during the festival period is the Sendai Castle Ruins Night Event. As its name suggests, this event will be held on the Sendai Castle Ruins, a regular Sendai tourist hotspot. To get there, hop on the Loople Sendai tour bus from Sendai Station. The journey should take about 20 minutes. The Sendai Castle Ruins are what remains of the castle that the Date clan used to live in. Located high on a hill, the view of Sendai city from this vantage point is also a sight to behold.

From 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., throughout the festival, a performing arts group known as Oshu Sendai Omotenashi Shudan Date Bushotai will perform an impressive martial arts performance with performers dressed up as Masamune Date or other feudal lords. There will also be stage shows featuring Sendai mascot characters from time to time.

Thinking of snapping a selfie? Head over to the popular Equestrian Statue of Masamune Date while it's being illuminated by gorgeous lighting during this period for the best possible shot of the year!

Enjoying Sendai Tanabata Festival Local-Style

Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association
Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

Local residents of Sendai start their festivities on August 5 with the Sendai Tanabata Fireworks Festival, so look into taking part in that if you want to enjoy the festival the way the locals do it! The venue is in the vicinity of Sendai's West Park, which is within walking distance from Omachi Nishikoen Station, two stations away from Sendai Station via the subway's Tozai Line.

On that night, about 16,000 fireworks will be blasted into the night sky for a dazzling display of pyrotechnics. There will also be stage events, so the site will be filled with many excited concert-goers as well, amping up the mood even further. Since the park offers a marvelous view of the fireworks in action, come early if you want to get a good spot!

On August 6, the sasakazari decorations will be up from around 10 a.m., making the morning hours of this day the perfect time to take a stroll through the city's major streets. From noon to evening, the roads are often jam-packed with visitors and festival participants, so if you're not a fan of crowds or just want to take photos of the sasakazari without being rushed, then definitely go during the morning hours.

  • Sendai Tanabata Fireworks Festival
    仙台七夕花火祭
    • Address Near Sendai West Park
    • ・TEL: 022-222-9788 (Sendai Youth Association)
      ・Hours: August 5, 7:15 p.m. – 8:15 p.m. (Planned)

Getting to the Sendai Tanabata Festival

When making your way to the Sendai Tanabata Festival, take the Tohoku Shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Sendai Station.

Once exiting from the Sendai Station West Exit, a shopping street with large streamers greets you. This is where the main streamer decoration venue is located and only takes a short walk to access. Further past the streamer decoration venue is the main event venue. This site can be accessed by walking through the streamer decoration area or by taking the Sendai Subway. Many events besides the Sendai Tanabata Festival take place in the vicinity, so we recommend doing a little research before your visit!

Getting to the Sendai Tanabata Festival
Step 1. Tokyo~Sendai: Take the Tohoku Shinkansen (Tokyo Station~Sendai Station)
Duration: one hour and 30 minutes to two hours

Step 2. Head to the main event venue (Omatsuri Hiroba): By foot or take the Sendai Subway.

Step 3. To get to other related events in the vicinity: Walk, take the Sendai Subway, or get on the city loop bus “Loople Sendai”

(*Events held at the event venue (Omatsuri Hiroba) are canceled for 2022. Please check official websites for information on other events in the area.)

Where to stay for the Sendai Tanabata Festival

Boasting one of the most impressive shopping districts in the Tohoku region, the great city of Sendai has many traditional Japanese inns! Accommodation is generally available, but prices may go up during the festival season. The Sendai Station area is especially popular, so we recommend booking rooms in advance!

For those who don’t mind venturing away from the station, we recommend booking accommodation along the coastline of Matsushima Bay - one of Japan’s three most scenic spots!

It only takes around 40 minutes on the JR Senseki Line when traveling from Sendai Station to Matsushima-Kaigan Station! This is a beautiful area where you can enjoy one of Japan’s most fabulous views!

A Festival with a Romantic Atmosphere

*Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association
*Photo provided by: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association

The striking streamers found throughout the Sendai Tanabata Festival enhance Sendai City’s beauty. Here you can experience a unique, romantic atmosphere! We also recommend stopping at the Tanabata Museum operated by KANEZAKI Co., Ltd.

This museum lets you experience the wonder of the Sendai Tanabata Festival year-round! It’s an exceptional facility for those who want to learn more about streamers - the festival’s main attraction!


KANEZAKI Co., Ltd., Sasakama-kan (souvenir shop), Tanabata Museum

<@Interview of Sendai Chamber of Commerce and Industry and 2022 updates Written by: Shitamachi Kizoku

*This article was re-edited in July 2022 from its original posted in May 2020. For updated information, please refer to the official websites.

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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