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Tanabata festivals, also known as "star festivals", are held across Japan on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega cross paths. Due to differences between the lunar calendar and the solar calendar, modern tanabata festivals take place either in July or August.

The Sendai Tanabata Matsuri (仙台七夕まつり), held every year on August 6-8, is one of the largest and most famous tanabata celebrations in Japan. Together, with Akita's Kanto Matsuri and Aomori's Nebuta Matsuri, it makes up the Tohoku Sandai Matsuri (Three Great Festivals of the Tohoku Region).

While festivities take place throughout Downtown Sendai, the festival's main feature are thousands of colorful streamers that decorate the city's shopping arcades, which come to resemble brightly colored forests. Each set of 3-5 meter long streamers is handcrafted by local shops, schools and community groups out of washi paper and bamboo. They are then hung from ten meter long bamboo poles along the arcades.

In addition to the streamers, which represent the threads of a loom, there are smaller paper decorations that include kimono to ward off bad health and accidents; a net for good harvests; cranes for long life, health and safety; a purse for good business; a trashbag for cleanliness; and paper strips for good handwriting, which people often write wishes on and hang from a bamboo branch. These items are also hung from the bamboo poles or worked into the design of the streamers themselves.

Various other events are held at Shimin Hiroba Square, Kotodai Park and along Jozenji Dori street. These include stage performances, live music and entertainment, traditional dance and food vendors. In addition, a fireworks display is held on the night before the festival (August 5) along the bank of the Hirosegawa River.

Getting there and around

The decorations are found along the Ichibancho and Chuo Shopping Arcades, which begin a few minutes walk from JR Sendai Station. Shimin Hiroba Square and Kotodai Park are at the end if the Ichibancho Shopping Arcade and just above the Kotodaikoen Subway Station. Jozenji Dori leads from Shimin Hiroba Square to the Hirosegawa River.

How to get to and around Sendai

Hours and Fees

Shopping Arcades

Hours

10:00 to 22:00 (August 6 and 7)
10:00 to 21:00 (August 8)

Admission

Free

Tanabata Fireworks

Hours

19:00 to 20:30 (August 5)

Admission

Free

Hotels around Sendai

Top rated in Sendai
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    • Sendai Guest House UMEBACHI
      Budget-friendly
      Guest House Umebachi offers dormitory-style accommodations with free Wi-Fi. Guests can rent bicycles to tour the area and relax at the outdoor terrace. JR Nigatake Train Station is a 10-minute walk and JR Sendai Train Station is a 15-minute drive away. The air-conditioned dormitory-style rooms feature bunk beds on hardwood floors. Bathrooms and toilets are shared. Amenities such as toothbrush and towels are available for an extra cost. Luggage storage is available for an extra charge and a coin-launderette is on site. Guests can relax and watch the flat-screen TV in the shared lounge and use the on-site PCs. A simple complimentary breakfast with toast and coffee is served. Guests can enjoy drinks at the bar space as well. Umebachi Guest House is a 15-minute drive from Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi (formerly Kleenex Stadium Miyagi) and Jozenji Dori Avenue. Sendai Tosho-gu Shrine is a 20-minute drive away.
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    • Hotel Metropolitan Sendai East
      Luxury
      Offering a fitness centre free of charge, Hotel Metropolitan Sendai East has direct access to Sendai Station. Free WiFi is available in all rooms. Featuring views of the city, all rooms have air conditioning, a desk, safety deposit box, TV, refrigerator and hairdryer. The private bathroom comes with towels, slippers and free toiletries. The 24-hour front desk offers free luggage storage and currency exchange services. Guests can relax in the shared lounge area. A drinks vending machine is available on site. The on-site restaurant serves a breakfast buffet using local ingredients, lunch and dinner. There are several restaurants, cafes and convenience stores within a 5-minute walk from the property. Sendai Museum is a 15-minute train ride from Hotel Metropolitan Sendai East. Sendai Castle and Zuihoden are a 20-minute drive from the property, while Sakunami Hot Spring is located an hour away by car.
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    • Almont Hotel Sendai
      Luxury
      Open from August 2017, Almont Hotel Sendai is nestled just a 5-minute stroll away from JR Sendai Station. The hotel features free WiFi, a restaurant and private parking is offered on site. Every room at this hotel is air conditioned and comes with a flat-screen TV. You will find a kettle in the room. All rooms include a private bathroom. For your comfort, you will find slippers, free toiletries and a hairdryer. You will find a 24-hour front desk at the property. Sakunami Hot Spring is 24 km from Almont Hotel Sendai, while Sakuraoka Daijingu is 1.3 km away. The nearest airport is Sendai Airport, 14 km from Almont Hotel Sendai.
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    • The Westin Sendai
      Luxury
      Set on 28-36th floors of Sendai's tallest building, The Westin Sendai offers a luxurious accommodation just a 10-minute walk from JR Sendai Station. Guests can work out in the free-use gym or receive rejuvenating massages at the on-site salon. 2 restaurants and a bar are available on site. Wi-Fi is provided at an additional charge. Fitted with chic furnishings and floor-to-ceiling windows, rooms come with modern facilities like satellite LCD TV. A fridge, an electric kettle and minibar are included. The large en suite bathroom has a bath tub, a shower booth and free toiletries. Sendai Westin Hotel’s 24-hour front desk can arrange luggage storage and laundry services. The Flow Spa offers a variety of treatments, sauna and a relaxation lounge. Souvenir items can be purchased at the gift shop. Stylish Restaurant Symphony serves sophisticated Western cuisine, while traditional Japanese dishes can be savoured at Ichimuan restaurant, which is located on the top floor. Horizon Lounge & Bar offers afternoon tea, light meals and evening drinks. The Westin Hotel is a 10-minute drive to Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi (formerly Kleenex Stadium Miyagi), and a 20-minute drive to Aoba Castle Park. Sendai Airport is located a 50-minute drive from the property.
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    • Hotel Vista Sendai
      Mid-range
      Open from April 2016, Hotel Vista Sendai is located just a 4-minute walk from JR Sendai Station. It boasts an on-site restaurant and rooms with modern decor. Free WiFi and private parking is available at an additional charge. Air-conditioned rooms are equipped with a 32-inch flat-screen LCD TV. A fridge, air purifier, electric kettle and slippers are also provided. The en suite bathroom comes with a hairdryer and free toiletries like toothbrushes and shampoo. Trouser presses, irons and extra blankets are available for use at the 24-hour front desk. Dishes prepared with fresh local seasonal ingredients can be savoured for breakfast. Tohoku University is a 14-minute walk from Sendai Hotel Vista. Make a visit to attractions in the area like Miyagi Baseball Stadium, a 6-minute drive away. Osaki Hachimangu Shrine is a 20-minute drive away while Sendai Airport can be reached within a 40-minute drive or train ride.
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    • Richmond Hotel Premier Sendai Ekimae
      Luxury
      Richmond Hotel Premier Sendai Ekimae offers a 24-hour front desk and simply decorated accommodation. This awardee of TripAdvisor’s 2014 Certificate of Exellence is located just a 3-minute walk from JR Sendai Train Station. Free WiFi is available in all areas. Air conditioned rooms feature a flat-screen TV and a Tempur-Pedic pillow. Each are fitted with a refrigerator, an electric kettle and a green tea set. En suite bathrooms come with a bath, a hairdryer and free toiletries. Sendai Ekimae Richmond Hotel Premier offers daily maid service, concierge service and room service. A coin launderette, meeting/banquet facilities and vending machines can also be found on site. The Premier Lounge serves breakfast consisting of freshly baked bread, eggs, fruits and other breakfast items. Room service can be ordered from a Japanese restaurant located on the B1F of the property. Aoba Castle is a 15-minute drive away, while Osaki Hachiman Shrine is a 10-minute drive from the property. JR Sendai Station is a 3-minute walk and Hirosedori Subway Station is a 6-minute walk from the hotel. Sendai Airport is a 30-minute subway ride away on Sendai Airport access express train and Matsushima is a 40-minute train ride away.
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    • Sendai Royal Park Hotel
      Luxury
      Surrounded by lush gardens, Sendai Royal Park Hotel is a resort hotel that offers elegant accommodation with European d?cor and free WiFi. Guests can enjoy rejuvenating beauty treatments at the hotel’s beauty salon. Free pick-up shuttles are available from Sendai and Izumi-Chuo stations. The hotel is located a 15-minute drive from Izumi Chuo Station, and a 30-minute drive from JR Sendai Station. The Sendai Izumi Premium Outlet shopping mall is just a 1-minute walk, and Izumi Park Town Golf Club can be reached within a 5-minute drive. Sendai Airport is a 40-minute drive. Guests can enjoy shopping at Izumi Park Town Tapio, located a 3-minute walk away. Each room at Sendai Royal Park Hotel features warm colours and large windows, and comes with a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge and a minibar. An electric kettle and tea bags are also provided. Some rooms feature a balcony and views of the garden. Activities at Sendai Royal Park Hotel include yoga in the garden and cycling. Guests can borrow bicycles to explore the local area, or relax with massages in the guest room. The 24-hour front desk can handle luggage storage and currency exchange. Guests can have breakfast on the garden terrace or enjoy a picnic breakfast in the garden. Teppanyaki restaurant Nanatsumori offers Sendai wagyu steak, while Chinese restaurant Keikaen offers Cantonese dishes with fresh ingredients. The on-site restaurants features views of the garden, which is lit up at night.
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    • Dormy Inn EXPRESS Sendai Seaside
      Mid-range
      Boasting spa facilities and free-use hot springs baths and sauna, Dormy Inn EXPRESS Sendai Seaside features free WiFi throughout the property. Free private parking is available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Nakanosakae Station is a 5-minute drive or a 20-minute walk from Dormy Inn EXPRESS Sendai Seaside. At the economy hotel, the rooms are equipped with a flat-screen TV, fridge and electric kettle. Pyjamas are provided by the property. The bathroom features a high-tech toilet, hairdryer and toothbrushes. Trouser press is available on site. Staff at the 24-hour front desk can help guests with queries that they may have as well as offer luggage storage service for free. Coin-operated launderette can be found at the hotel as well as karaoke facilities are available on site for guest's entertainment. A buffet breakfast is served every morning at the on-site restaurant "Hatago". The property has a drinks vending machine on site. Sendai Station is a 40-minute train ride and walk away from the hotel. The hotel is set 15 minutes walk away from Sendai Umino-Mori Aquarium, while Mitsui Outlet Park Sendai Port Shopping Mall is just a 5-minute walk away. Rakuten Kobo Stadium Miyagi is a 40-minute train ride away, while Sendai Stadium is a 75-minute train ride away. Sendai Airport is 25-minutes away by airport limousine bus from Dormy Inn EXPRESS Sendai Seaside.
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    • Tenza Hotel at Sendai Station
      Mid-range
      Tenza Hotel at Sendai Station is set in Sendai, 2 km from Sendai City Community Support Center and 2.2 km from Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi. With a restaurant, the 3-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. Private parking is available on site. The units in the hotel are equipped with a kettle. At Tenza Hotel at Sendai Station every room includes a desk and a flat-screen TV. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a continental breakfast. Staff at Tenza Hotel at Sendai Station are always available to provide information at the reception. Sakuraoka Daijingu is 2.3 km from the hotel, while Sendai International Centre is 2.7 km away. The nearest airport is Sendai Airport, 13 km from Tenza Hotel at Sendai Station.
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    • Hotel Keihan Sendai
      Mid-range
      Ideally located in the Aoba Ward district of Sendai, Hotel Keihan Sendai is set 600 metres from Sendai City Community Support Center, 1.3 km from Sakuraoka Daijingu and 1.7 km from Sendai International Centre. Boasting a 24-hour front desk, this property also provides guests with a restaurant. Attractions in the area include Rakuten Seimei Park Miyagi, 3.2 km away, or the Site of Sendai Castle, located 3.3 km from the property. At the hotel, all rooms include a wardrobe and a flat-screen TV. All guest rooms at Hotel Keihan Sendai feature air conditioning and a desk. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Sendai City Museum is 1.9 km from Hotel Keihan Sendai, while Zuihoden is 2.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Sendai Airport, 14 km from the hotel.
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