The Warabi Hata festival is an annual festival in celebration of the star festival, or “tanabata” as it is called in Japanese. The main date of the festival is usually on a Sunday closest to the Tanabata aka Star Festival. This year the festival falls on a weekend, so they can celebrate the main day on actual Tanabata, which is August 7th. You can enjoy the decorations and festive atmosphere along a one kilometer stretch of the Nakasendo Trail near Warabi station.
The festival started in 1951, so last year should have been the 70th anniversary, but you-know-what got in the way of that! And so many more large anniversaries and celebrations in Japan. The festival is not just a celebration of the star festival, but also a way to pray for the textile industry that once thrived in Warabi. When the festival started the cotton industry thrived in Warabi. Reportedly, the man said to have developed the cotton industry in Warabi, started his textile industry on August 7th.
Warabi Hata Festival in 2022
In 2022 the festival will be on for three days instead of four. Furthermore, they have reduced the size and contents of the festival. Moreover, they have said that the hours may be shortened further, or the festival may even be cancelled last minute, depending on the situation with the pandemic. As of July 31st it is currently still scheduled to go ahead.
During the festival large paper streamer “tanabata” decorations adorn the Nakasendo trail at the west exit of Warabi station. There are also bamboo trees to which you can tie your star festival wishes. Strips of colored paper are provided.
Friday August 5th
From 1.30 pm to 8 pm. Starlight stage from 1.30 pm to 7 pm at Warabi Station west exit. There is also a live stage from 3 pm in front of Kawaguchi Saishin bank. The starlight stage tends to have live music, while the Saishin bank stage tends to have dance performances.
Saturday August 6th
From 1.30 pm to 8 pm. Starlight stage from 1.30 pm to 7 pm at Warabi Station west exit. There is also a live stage from 3 pm in front of Kawaguchi Saishin bank. (There is also normally a traditional dance parade from 5 pm on the day before Tanabata. I cannot guarantee that this is also the case in 2022.)
Sunday August 7th
The main day of the festival. From 1.30 pm to 7 pm. Starlight stage from 1.30 to 6 pm. There is also a live stage from 3 pm in front of Kawaguchi Saishin bank. The festival ceremony is carried out at Warabi shrine on this day from 9 am.
You can access the festival from Warabi station, which is on the Keihin-Tohoku line. Most of the festivities are around the West exit of the station. It is advised, where possible, to come by public transport.