Shitamachi Tanabata Festival / 下町七夕まつり

Write your wish upon a tanzaku (短冊) and hang it from a bamboo bough! It's time once again for the celestial couple Hikoboshi (彦星) and Orihime (織姫) to be reunited! I'm talking about Tanabata of course!

This year my wife is super busy with work and we won't be able to make it to Sendai for the big celebration. I was still eager to get into the Tanabata spirit, however, so I decided to hang out by myself, and I spent the day at the Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri (下町七夕まつり).

The festival runs the length of Kappabashi St (合羽橋通り) from Ueno to Asakusa. Both sides of the street were lined with food and drink vendors, games for kids, sidewalk sales and second-hand goods vendors setup flea market style. In addition to lots of over-eating and getting drunk (a fine matsuri tradition!) there was also taiko drumming and music and dance performances.

These tasty snacks are actually not Japanese at all. They're a deep-fried Mongolian treat called Bobb that are similar to chewy cake doughnuts, and they're delicious! After I ate a few of these I found a vendor selling shaved ice (かき氷 / kaki-gouri), but this isn't your average lemon, lime, strawberry or blue shaved ice. This one is called "Adults' Shaved Ice" and rightfully so-- there are two toppings to choose from: yuzu liquor (柚子酒) and plum liquor (梅酒)! I chose yuzu and it was extremely tasty and refreshing, and was also just strong enough to add a pleasant boost to my matsuri mood! As you can see, these guys prepare the ice the old-fashioned way using an old school hand-crank machine. Compared to the modern electric shave ice machines, this one makes the ice a bit crunchier the which seems to match well with the booze. (^_^)

Today was a fun day!! I was reminded again of why I love living in the Shitamachi area. Folks here keep it real and don't bother with lots of frills or bells and whistles. Shitamachi is old and worn-- kind of like a favourite pair of old jeans that's way more comfortable and got more character and style than any pair of new jeans you'll ever buy. That feeling is captured perfectly in a the Shitamachi Tanabata Matsuri. 

There's a bunch more photos of the event for readers who are interested; just follow this link to the photo album.

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