The huge streamer decorations that draw crowds from all around Japan will now feature adorable cat characters created by an anime artist.
Every summer, people from around the country travel north of Tokyo to see one of the three great festivals of Tohoku, the Sendai Tanabata Festival. The traditional event celebrates the celestial meeting of two deities, Orihime and Hikoboshi, lovers separated by the Milky Way who are allowed to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. Dating back to the early Edo period (1603 – 1868), the festival is known for its extravagant decorations, which line the streets of the city, creating a lively atmosphere, and this year cats are set to join in the celebrations with a few unusual decorations of their very own!
Dubbed the “Sendai Tanyabata Festival”, with the Japanese word “nya” referring to a cat’s meow, the project is part of a crowdfunding campaign to bring the works of cat-loving artist Chinatsu Okada to the local celebrations this year. After introducing the idea of the Tanyabata Festival on an illustrated postcard last year, the project has expanded rapidly, riding on the success of the crowdfunding campaign, which has raised nearly 200 percent of the 220,000 yen (US$1,959) funding goal with 30 days still remaining. A large majority of the funds raised will go towards creating large 4-metre (13-foot) long fukinagashi streamer decorations, a trademark of the Sendai Tanabata Festival.
▼ In a first for the festival, these fukinagashi will feature huge cats,
just like the ones on Okada’s postcard from last year, pictured below.
As part of the crowdunding campaign, there are plenty of cat-themed goodies for supporters who pitch in to help the project.
▼ Contributions of 1,500 yen will reward patrons
with a package containing an illustrated tin badge…
▼ ….and a pack of ten postcards from one of four different collections.
▼ The 2,500 yen pack includes the tin badge, a mug,
three postcards, and a beautifully illustrated packet of incense.
▼ The 3,500 yen pack includes all of the above, plus a cute little tote bag.
▼ For 4,500 yen, supporters will receive everything
in the 3,500 yen pack, plus a cute T-shirt.
▼ While the 7,000 yen pack includes all of the above, plus a framed print.
Thanks to the success of the campaign, which is hosted on the Japanese site Makuake, visitors to the Sendai Tanabata Festival will now be able to walk amongst giant cats with huge heads and long, flowy bodies! To see the felines in person, be sure to pay them a visit in the city’s central shopping district during the celebration period, which runs from 6 – 8 August.