Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park Celebrates Tanabata Festival

We’ll take any excuse to visit the beautiful Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park, and this weekend is a good one! On Sunday, July 11th the Japanese Friendship Garden partners with the Minatomo Japanese Community to celebrate Tanabata in San Diego.

Originating from Chinese folklore, Tanabata is a holiday that celebrates the meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi! Separated by the Milky Way, the stars Orihime and Hikoboshi are able to meet once per year on the seventh day of the seventh month.

Guests of all ages are invited to enjoy the summer sun and partake in the Tanabata celebration, which will include kid-friendly fun, such as games, bon dances, crafts and food!

Bon Dances by Noriko Nguyen

Noriko loves “bon odori” or “bon dance”, which represents traditional Japanese folk dance during Obon festivals in summer. Noriko’s bon dance covers from traditional style from her hometown Osaka, like Kawachi Ondo and Dancing Hero. Noriko also incorporates existing as well as original BON DANCE, such as BTS’s Dynamite and Lady Gaga’s Rain on Me.

In 2020, Noriko made it possible to connect the world through virtual bon dance series. More than 100 people participated, people from Japan, Thailand, Europe and the USA gathered to enjoy the circle of joy. Noriko has danced to 100 songs so far.


A common practice during Tanabata is to decorate the nanatsu kazari, or seven decorations. The nanatsu kazari include the Fukinagashi, Tanzaku, Kamigoromo, Orizuru, Kinchaku, Toami, and Kuzukago.

The Fukinagashi is the most eye-catching decoration which represents the weaving yarn in the Tanabata legend of Orihime and is a charm for the improvement in the arts. Admiring the decorations and taking in the meaning behind them is one way of enjoying the Tanabata festival.

See you there, San Diego!

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