Weill in Japan Jason Weill Web Productions
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Asagaya Tanabata Festival

On August 8, I went with my host mother to the Tanabata festival near Asagaya train station. Tanabata are slips of paper on which people write their wishes, and then hang on bamboo trees. However, what is typically a quiet one-day affair has blossomed into a six-day festival of consumerism, food, and drinking. I did a little more shopping, but it was more like a sidewalk sale than a traditional festival.

Giant tanabata-like cloths are draped over the entrance to the busy shopping plaza. A large Hamtaro figure hangs in the shopping plaza advertising a store. My host mother enjoys the festival. In my hideously fake soccer jersey, I stand among the throngs of people at the tanabata festival. People, some enjoying the festival and some trying to get home from work, make their way through the main walkway of the tanabata festival. These figures, which resemble slimes from Dragon Warrior, promote a shop in the festival. Among the bright characters were these representing the Japan national soccer team. Although traditionally a winter food, summer festivals have started to offer taiyaki.  These soft, warm fish-shaped pastries are filled with cream or chocolate and are made to order. Actual tanabata are relegated to the outskirts of the festival. A giant Togepi figure promotes a shop at the festival.