Little Tokyo’s Tanabata Festival

Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo held their second annual Tanabata Festival this weekend as a part of Nisei Week (http://www.niseiweek.org/), and I had the opportunity to attend on Saturday. (Please excuse the picture quality).

Tanabata is the celebration of the coming together of the weaving princess Orihime and the cow herder Hikiboshi, two lovers separated by a river of stars (The Milky Way), who are only allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month on the lunar calendar.

According to legend, this came about when Orihime’s father, Tentei, arranged for her daughter to meet Hikiboshi, and they fell in love. Because of this, both began ignoring their work, which angered Tentei. He separated the two lovers across the Milky Way, forbidding them to meet.

Orihime was deeply saddened.  Tentei, who felt guilty, allowed them to meet once a year, in which they would cross a bridge across the milky way made of Magpies.

Traditional Decorations seen at Tanabata Festivals.  The decorative ball at the top is a “Kusudama”, which is made of  folded paper, similar to origami, and attached together to form a sphere shape. The streamers, or “Fukinagashi”, are attached to the bottom of the Kusudama and are said to represent the material Orihime uses to weave.

The Vendor’s area being set up in front of the Japanese American National Museum. They sold a variety of things, as well as offered many games seen at other festivals, such as  Yo-Yo Tsuri (The water ballon Yo-Yo catching).

Japanese women wearing Yukata, a summer version of a Kimono.

Strips of paper called Tanzaku, used to write wishes on and tied to Bamboo.

A large Bamboo with many Tanzaku on it.

Across the street is the Japanese Village Plaza, where there are many shops and restaurants.

The sign and entrance to the Plaza.

Some live entertainment from the middle of the plaza.

Further into the plaza, we find one of my favorite places to go when I am in the area: Jungle. For those who don’t know what it is, it is a shop that sells many collectibles, such as Anime Figures, character goods, Godzilla memorabilia, as well as many Japanese DVDs and other collectibles for old-school Japanese shows.  Some Anime fans may know this shop as the place where The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya DVDs premiered in America.

The Doorway to the interior of the first shop. I couldn’t take any pictures inside as the employees do not like people taking pictures of the merchandise, for Obvious theft-related reasons.

Across the street we have the second Jungle Shop (the one with the black awning), along with a number of different restaurants.

Most notably, we have Daikokuya, a restaurant famous for their ramen.

The Weller Court shopping area on Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street, where there are a number of restaurants, the Kinokuniya Bookstore, and Marukai, a Japanese grocery store.

Decided to eat here, Curry House.

Some of the delicious food they serve here.

Some refreshing Tea before the food arrived.

The Beef Curry and rice has arrived.

Absolutely delicious Curry.

Senjougahara wanting to sneak some food from my friend’s plate.

Inside Nijiya market where they sell many Japanese groceries.

Some tempting Sake.

The Koyasan Temple.

The Challenger Memorial on Astronaut Ellison S. Onizuka Street (My camera decided to act up).

A vendor stall back at the festival grounds. This one served Takoyaki.

And that’s it for my coverage on the Tanabata festival and the small tour of Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo (or lack thereof ^^;). If you have the opportunity to visit Little Tokyo, I highly recommend it. There are many wonderful places to eat, nice scenary and some nice shops and groceries to browse through.

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2 responses to “Little Tokyo’s Tanabata Festival

  1. “I couldn’t take any pictures inside as the employees do not like people taking pictures of the merchandise (for obvious reasons).”

    …I don’t get it. What reasons?

    • In my experience, the employees believe that taking pictures of the merchandise would lead to a theft of the product(s). I’ve done it once and I was asked to delete the picture. I don’t know if the policy has changed, or if you have had no problems doing so, but since then I’ve refrained from taking pictures in the store.

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