Award-winning kazari from Sendai. (Photo by Marc Abo)

The Los Angeles Tanabata Festival will have on display last year’s award-winning kazari during the 2021 Nisei Week Festival on Saturday, Aug. 14, at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) and the Japanese American National Museum (JANM).

The festival, now in its 12th year, was sidelined again this year due to the continuing threat the COVID pandemic presents. The Los Angeles Tanabata Festival seeks to maintain a presence in the spirit of community outreach and understanding.

“Our festival aims to unite the community and give everyone reasons to feel they belong since the very core of the Tanabata legend is that everyone hopes to find happiness together,” stated 2019 festival chair Masumi Muya.

The JACCC and the JANM agreed to partner with the LATF to ensure that the giant kazari from Sendai will be on display as part of the 2021 Nisei Week Virtual Experience. Five Sendai kazari will hang at JANM and seven Sendai kazari will be at the JACCC Plaza. An additional eight kazari submitted by community organizations will be on display at the JACCC’s Taizo Watanabe Exhibition Center (TWEC) for the Ikebana Association of Southern California reception as part of the ikebana exhibit.

Known for its spectacular bamboo decorations, Sendai has one of the largest Tanabata festivals, established over 400 years ago when the city was built by Date Masamune (1567-1636). Tanabata or Star Festival celebrates the folklore of Japan’s best-known lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, represented by the stars Vega and Altair, who are only allowed to meet once a year. Located on the opposite sides of the Milky Way the legend is said to parallel the stars when they are closest on the 7th of July.

Yoshihito Yonezawa, former president of the Miyagi Kenjinkai, fulfilled his dream to bring the Tanabata Festival to Los Angeles in 2009. Working together with the Nisei Week Foundation, Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California (Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai), and Brian Kito of the Little Tokyo Public Safety Association, his wish became a reality. The support of Ichiro Shiromatsu from Sendai was integral in establishing the festival in Los Angeles by sending the kazari from the long-running Sendai Tanabata Festival.

For more information on the Los Angeles Tanabata Festival, visit:  www.tanabatalosangeles.org

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