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During the Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival, JR Hiratsuka Station on the Tokaido Line is festooned with Tanabata decorations.
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JR Hiratsuka Station. Most of these pictures were taken in July 2004.
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Outside JR Hiratsuka Station
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Held for four days from the first Thursday of July, this is one of the largest Tanabata Festivals in the Kanto region. Usually called the Star Festival, about 3,000 colorful streamers hang all around the city center in the shopping district.
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Tanabata decoration for Genji Monogatari (Tale of Genji).
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Until 2008, the festival used to be held on and around July 7, but now it is held for four days from the first Thursday of July. Depending on the year, July 7 might not fall within the festival period.
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Many Tanabata decorations feature current themes such as Japan's athletes going to the Olympics (in Athens in 2004 when this photo was taken).
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Japanese Olympians going to Athens in 2004.
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The Tanabata streamers are made by local businesses who may spend a few hundred thousand to a few million yen to make these decorations. They compete in a contest and the winners receive good publicity.
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The 1st Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri was held in July 1951. Started by local merchants. Most Tanabata Matsuri in Japan are held in Aug. which is closer to the original July 7 date on the lunar calendar.
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July 7 is also during Japan's rainy season, so it is unusual to see Tanabata on July 7. As you can see here, it did rain a bit. The festival is now held by the city government.
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In 1993, the festival was renamed from Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri to Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri. "Shonan" which is the beachside area in and around Kamakura.
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In Japanese, these decorations are called take-kazari (literally bamboo decorations) since they are supported by bamboo poles. 竹飾り
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Very intricate streamers at Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri in early July.
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Baseball coach Nagashima Shigeo and judoist Tamura Ryoko
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These four beautiful streamers represent the four seasons, from left to right, spring, summer, fall, and winter.
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Inside one of the streamers. See the origami cranes.
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Signboard explaining the concept of the four-season streamers.
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Spring
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Kitajima Kosuke, breastroke swimmer who won gold at Athens.
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Ai-chan, table tennis player
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Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival
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There are about 80 large Tanabata streamers on the main street called Shonan Star Mall.
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You are not allowed to pull on the streamers or tear off any parts.
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Very creative.
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This Tanabata decoration is made of plastic PET bottles.
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Tanabata decoration made of plastic PET bottles.
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Snow White in Tanabata
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They also have a Tanabata dance parade along the main street led by the Shonan Hiratsuka Orihime weavers. 湘南ひらつか織り姫.
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Tanabata originally had girls write their wishes for romance on strips of paper like these. They hung the paper on bamboo branches. Eventually, they used colored paper and the custom morphed into paper streamer decorations which we see today.
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Write your wish for love here.
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Food stalls abound.
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The Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri also provides night illumination. This is something which the Tanabata Festival in Sendai does not do.
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Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri poster for 2004.
 
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