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The Tanabata Japanese Star Festival Returns to `Imiloa

August 10, 2023
Last updated: August 14, 2023

The Tanabata Japanese Star Festival Returns to `Imiloa

Figure 1. The flyer of the Tanabata Japanese Star Festival. (Credit: NAOJ & `Imiloa Astronomy Center)

The Tanabata Japanese Star Festival is back and happening at `Imiloa Astronomy Center, Hilo, Hawai`i, on Saturday, August 19, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free for the whole family to enjoy special planetarium shows, Japanese crafts, and traditional games, bon dance lessons, taiko performances, entertainment, `ono (delicious) food and more.

"The Tanabata Festival is such a great event for us to bring to our island community, not only because the story itself is written in the stars but also because it offers us an opportunity to share the Japanese culture with everyone," says Subaru Telescope Director, Satoshi Miyazaki. "We are so grateful for the numerous community organizations who are part of this year’s festival. Because of their generous support, we are able to provide this event free to the public. Please bring your whole `ohana and enjoy the day at `Imiloa. There will be so many activities you won’t want to miss!"

Featured activities at the Tanabata Japanese Star Festival will include live presentations, performances, arts, and crafts:

● Learn the "Story of Tanabata in the Night Sky," with planetarium programs running every half hour. Two special presentations are also in the planetarium line up: "Cosmic Odyssey: Exploring Thirty Meter Telescope’s international collaboration to unravel the mysteries of the Universe" with Yuko Kakazu, Education, Outreach, and Broader Impacts Manager at TMT International Observatory and NAOJ at 12:30 p.m., and "The Universe Seen Through the Subaru Telescope" with Subaru Telescope Director Satoshi Miyazaki at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

● Puna Taiko, Taishoji Taiko and the Hilo High School Taiko Club will open the event as well as showcase a special taiko performance at 1:30 p.m.

● There will also be entertainment throughout the day in the Moanahoku Hall, including bon dance lessons and the "Story of Tanabata" as told by the Hilo High School Japan Club. The final performance of the festival in Moanahoku Hall is from an Okinawan folk music group from Honolulu: Sanshin Master (Shihan) Grant "Masanduu" Murata of the Ryukyu Koten Afuso-ryu Ongaku Kenkyu Choichi Kai U.S.A. will be joined by three other musicians and Hana Nuuzi no Kai Nakasone Dance Academy master instructor Julia Asami Okamura.

"`Imiloa is a place that celebrates Hawai`i and its diverse community," says `Imiloa Astronomy Center Executive Director, Ka`iu Kimura. "We’re thrilled to be able to host the Tanabata Japanese Star Festival at `Imiloa again with the support of local sponsors and organizations. The last event in 2019 was a huge success and we look forward to welcoming the community at-large to enjoy Japanese cultural activities, crafts and entertainment."

The story of Tanabata tells of the annual reunion of two star-crossed lovers — a weaving princess named Orihime and a cowherd named Hikoboshi. The two are separated by Orihime’s father, who places them on opposite sides of Amanogawa, the heavenly river (Milky Way). The couple is allowed to meet just once a year (on the seventh day of the seventh month). In astronomy, Orihime is the star Vega and Hikoboshi is the star Altair. Both are clearly visible in the summer sky. In Japan, the Tanabata Festival is celebrated by writing wishes on colorful strips of paper called tanzaku, which are hung on bamboo trees.

The Tanabata Japanese Star Festival at ʻImiloa is sponsored by Subaru Telescope, `Imiloa Astronomy Center, TMT International Observatory, KTA Super Stores, and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Hawaii.

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