As part of Nisei Week, The three-day Tanabata Festival will be taking place over the weekend in Little Tokyo. The plaza in front of in front of JANM and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA will be filled with streamers from the traditional kazari decorations.
The festival celebrates the annual reunion of two stars, that according to Japanese folklore, are in love with each other, but separated by the Milky Way. The festival began in the 700s in Japan, but the symbolic kazari decorations were first created by the people of the city of Sendai after WWII. Here in Los Angeles, anyone is welcome to create kazari and enter them in a competition for prizes of $50 to $100. Workshops are held throughout the summer, and kazari are created by church groups, boy scouts and a number of other community organizations.
Friday the festival opens at 5 PM with the traditional breaking of the sake barrels, Ondo Dancing, Taiko drums and awards for the best kazari in each category. Starting at 10 AM on Saturday, you can enjoy a variety of vendors, food booths, crafts, games and entertainment. The night culminates at 6:45 with a much-anticipated performance by Japanese/So Cal band Lolita Dark. On Sunday from noon until 6 PM you will be entertained by Taiko drums, J-Pop, Classical Japanese Dance and lots of the 3-string instrument known as the shamisen.