Tanabata in Asagaya - 2016
Tanabata is mostly celebrated in July but it is also celebrated in August as some places in Japan hold it in accordance with the old Japanese calendar. One place in Tokyo that holds it August is the Asagaya Pearl Center Shopping Arcade in Suginami ward. I've been there many times before, but this was the first time I visited it on a weekday and I was still surprised to see how packed it was. There were a lot of visitors there, especially kids as it is school holidays now.
Just in case you don't know, the Pearl hangs huge paper-mache dolls, as well as traditional decorations from its roof, which would be about a kilometer in length. The characters could be anything from Orihime (the princess from the Tanabata story) through to Thomas the Tank Engine and everything and anything in between.
The most popular model I thought would have been Anpanman as I counted at least three of him. A new one I greatly enjoyed seeing was Gigantor as I was a big fan of the TV series when I was a kid in the 1970s. His model was extremely good and looked great in blue.
However, I was a little disappointed on two counts with this year's event. Years ago they had Totoro and Space Battleship Yamato, which were really cool but for the last two years they have been missing. I hope they'll be back in the future as they are very fun.
The other reason concerns a very large and very good model of Donald Trump on display. What was written on that model was extremely disappointing to see. I'm not a fan of Mr. Trump and hope someone else will be elected as president of the United States in the 2016 elections, but what was written on that model was very, very sad to see.
Pearl Shopping Center is definitely one of the places you need to check out for Tanabata if you are in Tokyo in August. Plus, being Asagaya there are also lots of small shops in the area that are definitely worth a look. It is very much a family event, suitable for all ages.
If you want to see pictures from the 2017 event please click here.