Tanabata Star Festival Event at Rich Mix, London

Tanabata wish tree

Join in a night of fun and festivities on 8th July at Rich Mix to celebrate Tanabata, Japan’s summer festival of celestial star-crossed lovers. Discount tickets under £10 are on offer for See Japan readers!

For one night only, Rich Mix is bringing a slice of summer Japan to your doorstep! Rhythm Passport will transport sounds, rhythms and colours from the Far East to London's East End, with a night of Japanese music, food and festival traditions - including a wish tree for the Tanabata star festival.

The night will be centred around Japanese music by both traditional and contemporary artists. Expect an intriguing line-up of musicians influenced by both traditional Japanese music and modern sounds, as well as unique DJ sets. Enjoy the full festival experience: savour delicious authentic Japanese food, and make a wish by hanging a colourful piece of paper on the 'wishing tree'.

The line-up includes the contemporary stylings of French-Japanese singer and flautist Maïa Barouh; traditional shamisen and enka performances by London-based duo Hibiki Ichikawa and Akari Mochizuki; a set by Tokyo-born, London-based DJ Koichi Sakai; Japan-inspired festival music by DJ crew Shibaura Soundsystem; and Paula from SOAS Radio bringing a mixture of Japanese tunes to the dancefloor.

After you've satisfied your hunger for new sounds, sate your appetite for Japanese food with a variety of authentic dishes on offer. And of course, Tanabata wouldn’t be complete without a proper Tanabata tree for you to hang your wishes on according to the ages-old Japanese custom.

See Japan readers can get discount tickets for the price of £8.00 (plus fee of £1.08) from Rich Mix's website - insert the following discount code before you checkout: RPTANABATA17. The event is suitable for ages 16+ and the venue is wheelchair accessible.

Tanabata decorations in Sendai

What is Tanabata?

Tanabata, also known as the 'Star Festival', is a summer festival held to celebrate the meeting of the deities Orihime (the weaver girl) and Hikoboshi (the shepherd boy) - the Romeo and Juliet of the star world - just once each year on 7th July.

According to an ancient Chinese legend, the Milky Way separates the lovers (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively), so they can meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month by the lunisolar calendar. In Japan, people celebrate Tanabata by writing their wish on a small strip of coloured paper called 'tanzaku' and hanging it on a bamboo wish tree called ‘sasadake’, sometimes with other star-themed decorations.

Many Japanese cities also hold larger Tanabata festivals. The most famous such festival is held in Sendai, Japan (6-8 August). Two other large Tanabata festivals are held in Asagaya in Tokyo (mid August) and Hiratsuka, Kanagawa, near Tokyo (7 July).

At the festivals, shopping malls and streets are decorated with enormous colourful paper streamers and often feature a decorations competition as well as a parade, music, food stalls, and carnival games. Tanabata festivals are even held in São Paulo, Brazil and Los Angeles, California, demonstrating the truly universal appeal of the themes of true love and the star-crossed lovers!

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Tanabata decorations in Sendai