Tokyo in Pics


A photography blog about Tokyo, run by Australian photographer Rohan Gillett

Tanabata in Asagaya - 2017

It’s August and that means time for Tanabata again!  Many places in Japan hold it in July but some places hold it in accordance with the old Japanese calendar, which is obviously good for people who love this festival.  As I enjoy Tanabata too, I always go to the Asagaya Pearl Center, a shopping arcade in Suginami ward, as they put their yearly show over four days.  It is something a little different.

Johnny Depp's Jack Sparrow character from Pirates of the Caribbean

If you didn’t know, the Pearl hangs huge paper-mâché dolls, as well as traditional decorations from its roof.  While the arcade would be a little over one kilometre in length, when it is crowded it takes a long time to get to the end.  The dolls could be anything, from Winnie the Pooh to Orihime (the princess from the Tanabata story) and everything and anything in between.  Some of them are huge, several meters in length, while others are very small, less than one meter long.

Asagaya Pearl Center gets very crowded during their Tanabata Festival

As always there were a few dolls that are there every year like Doraemon, Thomas the Tank Engine and Anpanman but they were joined by some new ones this time.  I also saw Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow character from Pirates of the Caribbean and Pinocchio.  All of them were very, very good.  However, I would have to say that my favourite was Gru from Despicable Me, flanked by some minions.

Gru and some Minions from Despicable Me

The only problem I had with the festival this year was with timing.  Due to work I could only go on the Saturday.  That was a slight mistake in retrospect I guess because by the time I got there it was incredibly crowded.  There were lots of mums and dads with their kids, lot of couples plus lots of people like me with cameras there.

I really do recommend Pearl Center for Tanabata.  The paper-mâché dolls make it something a little different and many shops put stalls out that sell food and drink.  You should really try and make there one year!  The website for the arcade can be seen here.