JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.


Most viewed - Sendai Tanabata Matsuri Festival 2009 仙台七夕まつり
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Held annually during Aug. 6-8, the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri is Japan's largest, grandest, and most famous Tanabata Festival. Commonly called the Star Festival, Tanabata Matsuri features large colorful, streamer decorations (called take-kazari).568 views
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You could write a wish on the paper and hang it on the bamboo branch. I wrote "Live long and prosper."283 views
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In the Shimin Hiroba was also this space.245 views
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My YouTube video of Sendai Tanabata featuring the festival eve on Aug. 5, 2009 when they had fireworks and the morning of Aug. 6 when they were setting up the Tanabata decorations. 224 views
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Hip hop222 views
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Many girls (and kids) dressed in yukata (cotton kimono) came to see the Tanabata Festival. Her facial reaction was typical.201 views
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My YouTube video of Sendai Tanabata featuring Tanabata decorations and seeing the evening entertainment (Awa Odori, Tanabata dancers, etc.) on Jozenji-dori during 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm. 180 views
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The take-kazari bamboo decorations were marvelous. A myriad of designs and variety. Paper was the main material used to make all these decorations, unlike the predominant plastic found at other Tamabata Festivals in Japan.179 views
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On the morning of Aug. 6, the first day of Sendai Tanabata, shop owners started to set up their tanabata bamboo decorations from around 8 am to 9 am.175 views
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Tiny origami paper cranes. Guess how many paper cranes there are? Over 1 million.158 views
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This was my second time to see Sendai Tanabata. The first time was quite some time ago. I had high expectations, and I was not disappointed.145 views
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A short walk from Jozenji-dori is the Shimin Hiroba (Citizens' Square) where there was a stage for more entertaining performances by numerous groups. The program started at 6 pm and ended at 8:45 pm.138 views
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Eye-catching trio of yukata-clad girls.132 views
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In Sendai, famous daimyo Date Masamune had the warrior and merchant classes observe the Star Festival. 128 views
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Inside Sendai Station's west side. A great greeting for visitors to Sendai during Tanabata Matsuri.127 views
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The festival is said to have originated from a Star Festival in China. According to Chinese legend, east of the Milky Way there was a Heavenly King whose daughter worked as a weaver. However, when she married a herdsman, she quit weaving. 125 views
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This decoration had little owl-shaped paper balloons. These girls are blowing air into the balloons with a straw. Sendai Tanabata.115 views
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Many of the Tanabata streamers are quite commercial, with sponsors prominently displayed on the streamers.112 views
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The yukata has become quite modern. You no longer have to put your hair up when wearing one.109 views
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On Aug. 4, two days before the start of Tanabata Festival, the shopping arcades already had these bamboo poles with ropes set up.107 views
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This angered her father who banished the herdsman to the other side of the Milky Way. He allowed the two to meet only once a year on the evening of the seventh day of the seventh month (according to the lunar calendar). 106 views
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I arrived in Sendai on Aug. 4, 2009, two days before the festival, and Sendai Station here was already decorated with these huge tanabata streamers. Very impressive.105 views
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It's nearly impossible to define or describe an outstanding decoration, but you know it when you see it.104 views
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The pedestrian overpass connected to Sendai Station is also decorated.101 views
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People who wear yukata know how to enjoy each of Japan's seasons.100 views
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Attaching the ball to the body of the decoration.99 views
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Korean performers.99 views
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This is the Hapina Nakakecho arcade. "Hapina" stands for "Heartful Amenity Place Interfaced Natural Arcade." It also refers to "happy." When the Japanese create a new name, they love puns.97 views
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These people are spreading the wings of the origami cranes.96 views
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Bottom of the paper cranes.92 views
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Pieces of bamboo hung from the ropes on bamboo poles.92 views
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During the Tohoku Industrial Expo in 1928, the forerunner of today's Tanabata Festival was held. Sendai merchants strived to uphold the tradition, resulting in today's elaborate and gaudy Tanabata decorations.91 views
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According to the legend, the original date of Tanabata is July 7 according to the lunar calendar which is about a month behind the calendar we use today. Some places hold the festival on July 7 to match the original, numeric date.91 views
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Sendai Tanabata Fireworks on Aug. 5, 7:30 pm to 9 pm. It was impressive. The theme was "Ring of Love."91 views
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Nishi Park in Sendai is full of people on fireworks night.90 views
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Inside Sendai Station is a large information booth where you can obtain maps and pamphlets of Sendai and Tanabata Matsuri.90 views
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The weaver is represented by the Vega star and the herdsman by the Altair star. As a prayer to produce better arts and crafts, the Imperial Court and the warrior class paid homage to these two stars from ancient times. This practice spread to the masses.89 views
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The shopping arcades on the west side of Sendai Station is where the Tanabata decorations are. The main arcades where you can see the streamers are basically on two arcade roads: Chuo-dori and Ichibancho-dori. They intersect at a T-intersection.89 views
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Tanabata decorations outside S-PAL, a shopping complex next to Sendai Station.89 views
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Local cheerleaders included these kids.88 views
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Tanabata decorations at the entrance of Sendai Station.87 views
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One bamboo pole has several decorations and each one hangs on a rope.86 views
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These decorations cannot be massed produced, all one of a kind.85 views
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Setting up Tanabata bamboo decorations.85 views
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Tanabata Matsuri is held in many parts of Japan, usually in shopping arcades to draw customers. The more famous ones are in Hiratsuka in Kanagawa and Asagaya in Tokyo.85 views
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Origami paper cranes is actually one type of Tanabata decorations. Many decorations had paper cranes as you can see here.84 views
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Female lover in heaven84 views
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The decorations can cost thousands of dollars or even tens of thousands of dollars (US$). (Hundreds of thousands of yen or a few million yen.) 83 views
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Origami paper cranes.83 views
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You can see Tanabata in various locations (smaller scale) in Japan such as Hiratsuka in Kanagawa held around July 7 and Asagaya and Fussa in Tokyo around Aug. 7.83 views
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It rained sometimes during the Tanabata Festival since the Tohoku region was still in the rainy season.83 views
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Kids loved to jump and try to touch the streamers.83 views
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During the morning of Aug. 6 the first day, a team of judges wearing a white cap and yellow shirt proceed through the decorations for judging. Dressed in pink is the back is one of the three Sendai Goodwill Ambassadors (not Miss Tanabata).83 views
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This is Sun Mall Ichibancho. This Ichibancho-dori road is also straight, but consists of three seamless shopping arcades: Sun Mall Ichibancho, Brand Dome Ichibancho, and Ichibancho Yon-chome.83 views
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Organizations who made the 1 million+ paper cranes. About 25,000 people from all over Japan from age 5 to 103 made over 1 million paper cranes. That's an average of 40 cranes per person.83 views
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This road was filled with people as well for the fireworks.82 views
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The streamers can also be quite hypnotizing if not captivating.82 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.81 views
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By 10 am on the first day of Aug. 6, most all of the Tanabata decorations were set up. Large crowds soon followed.81 views
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After the festival ends, many of these decorations are discarded. But some are donated to a shopping arcade in Fukuoka (Kyushu). 81 views
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Gold Award + Outstanding Award.81 views
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People were amazed at these cranes. This is one type of streamer you won't see at other Tanabata Festivals in Japan.79 views
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The crowd take pictures in front of this Outstanding Award decoration.79 views
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Interview by local TV.79 views
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Peace message.79 views
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The decorations are given awards such as the Gold and Silver Awards. The winners are announced later in the day, and the winning decorations are tagged with the awards. This is the Gold Award.79 views
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Write your wish on a paper tag and affix it to the bamboo branch.79 views
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The Chuo-dori arcade is about 750 meters long. Although this arcade is a straight and continuous road, it is actually consists of three seamless arcades named Hapina Nakakecho (ハピナ名掛丁), Clis Road, and Marble Road Omachi.78 views
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Hoisting up the bamboo support pole.78 views
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It says "No More Hiroshima."78 views
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Sendai's shopping arcades were obviously designed for tanabata decorations. There are eyelets or hooks for ropes on the ceiling.77 views
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This large tanabata bamboo was being set up on Aug. 4.77 views
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Attaching ropes. The decorations will later be attached to these ropes.77 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.76 views
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Another crowd favorite was these streamers made of tiny origami paper cranes. 76 views
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Hapina arcade76 views
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Silver Award. Besides awards for individual decorations, awards are given to the shopping arcade as a whole for the bext decorations.76 views
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Closeups of one of the best take-kazari of 2009.76 views
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On the evening of Aug. 5, the Tanabata Festival Eve, a fireworks display is held at Nishi Koen Park. Here are many girls in yukata waiting for friends at Sendai Station to see the fireworks.76 views
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Kids writing their wishes.75 views
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No smoking in the shopping arcades.75 views
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This was the 34th Tanabata Decoration of Peace. Aug. 6, the first day of the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri, also happens to be the anniversary of the Hiroshima atomic bombing.75 views
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Fujisaki's decoration is at the T-intersection between Chuo-dori and Ichibancho-dori.75 views
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The decorations usually arrive in huge plastic bags, especially the outdoor ones. This is the Fujisaki decoration.75 views
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Perhaps she wished for a rich husband.75 views
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The walls also have eyelets/hooks for ropes to support the bamboo poles.74 views
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Many decorations are really advertisements. But others have no ads and they are splendid. Keep in mind that the Tanabata Festival was started by local merchants, so it has commercial roots. It's not a religious event.74 views
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Male lover in heaven73 views
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Date Masamune73 views
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Types of tanabata decorations.73 views
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Extravagant Award73 views
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Marble Road Omachi73 views
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Tanabata appeals to all ages, from little kids to grandmothers.73 views
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Regular-size paper cranes.72 views
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When the decorations are unpacked or unraveled, they are freshened up. 72 views
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In Sun Mall Ichibancho, a traditional kami-shibai picture card story was told.72 views
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Drilling72 views
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Bottom view70 views
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Tokushima Awa Odori dancers at Sendai Tanabata Matsuri Festival.70 views
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Travel photos (Matsushima)70 views
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Also here is a cramped enclave of many little bars and shops.69 views
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This one was clearly a crowd favorite, and not surprisingly, it won the Outstanding Award.69 views
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Ichiban-cho Yon-chome arcade is outdoors.68 views
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For people outside Japan wanting to make tanabata decorations for a Japan event, let these photos give you some design ideas.67 views
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Puppets67 views
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At night.67 views
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Koi fish made of tiny balls stuck onto the paper.66 views
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North Korean abductee, Megumi66 views
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Sun Mall66 views
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There is no longer a Tanabata Parade in the evening. Instead of a parade, there are various performances at several areas on the main street of Jozenji-dori during 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm every evening during Aug. 6-8.65 views
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At around 9 pm, the tanabata decorations are put in plastic bags or hung high so drunkards cannot reach and damage them.65 views
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Milky Way streamers decorated the road.65 views
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International decoration64 views
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Later in the morning at around 9 am, these decorations will be hung normally again.64 views
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Back to Hapina arcade64 views
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Where I was, Tokushima Awa Odori dancers performed first.63 views
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In the early morning, the tanabata decorations still hang high up. 63 views
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Calligraphy brushes even.63 views
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Sun Mall Ichibancho62 views
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I like these American-style costumes.61 views
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Matsushima photos61 views
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Local cheerleaders60 views
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Photos of sushi on a sushi shop's decoration.59 views
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Different performances are given every evening during the Tanabata Matsuri. If you want good seats, go there early. Otherwise, it's standing room only.59 views
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Slinky59 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.58 views
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International decoration57 views
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Hip hop56 views
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Folk dancers for Tanabata Odori56 views
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More performers.56 views
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Taiko drummers55 views
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There was also a ballet play featuring the herdsman and weaver who meet in the heavens on July 7.55 views
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Local cheerleaders were great.54 views
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Taiko drummers53 views
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The herdsman and weaver meet in the Milky Way.53 views
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A few local high school bands also played.53 views
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This was the main performance area on Jozenji-dori.52 views
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The Orihime weaver.52 views
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