JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when in crowds.


Most viewed - Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri Festival 湘南ひらつか七夕まつり
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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.241 views
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During the Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival, JR Hiratsuka Station on the Tokaido Line is festooned with Tanabata decorations.173 views
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Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri poster for 2004.131 views
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Very intricate streamers at Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri in early July.128 views
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Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival121 views
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These four beautiful streamers represent the four seasons, from left to right, spring, summer, fall, and winter.119 views
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The Hiratsuka Tanabata Matsuri also provides night illumination. This is something which the Tanabata Festival in Sendai does not do.100 views
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Write your wish for love here.85 views
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JR Hiratsuka Station. Most of these pictures were taken in July 2004.82 views
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Tanabata decoration for Genji Monogatari (Tale of Genji).79 views
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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.66 views
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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.66 views
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Food stalls abound.65 views
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Outside JR Hiratsuka Station64 views
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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).63 views
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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.61 views
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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60 views
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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.59 views
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Tanabata decoration made of plastic PET bottles.56 views
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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.55 views
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Baseball coach Nagashima Shigeo and judoist Tamura Ryoko55 views
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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.54 views
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There are about 80 large Tanabata streamers on the main street called Shonan Star Mall.54 views
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Very creative.54 views
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Japanese Olympians going to Athens in 2004.52 views
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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.52 views
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This Tanabata decoration is made of plastic PET bottles.52 views
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Snow White in Tanabata52 views
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Inside one of the streamers. See the origami cranes.51 views
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Kitajima Kosuke, breastroke swimmer who won gold at Athens.50 views
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Signboard explaining the concept of the four-season streamers.49 views
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Spring49 views
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Ai-chan, table tennis player48 views
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You are not allowed to pull on the streamers or tear off any parts.48 views
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