Tanabata 七夕 (Star Festival)
“Tanabata”[七夕/たなばた] is an event which held in July 7th. It originates from the Chinese Star Qixi Festival. It is the only day when two lovers, Hikoboshi (Cow herder) and Orihime (Weaving Princess), would be allowed to meet each other at the shores of the heavenly river. This is based on a legend.
Not only the legend but also these two stars are shining brightly in July 7th, across the Milky Way.
The legend is based on the story, written below.
“Hikoboshi” and “Orihime” were husband and wife. They were so deeply in love with each other, and they started neglecting their duties. Because of this reason, they were separated and only allowed to meet one another once a year. (Reminds of the Romeo and Juliet)?
1. Orihime’s star represents Vega, the zero magnitude star of the Lyra constellation,
which is located to the west of the Milky Way.
2. Hikoboshi’s star represents Altair, the first magnitude star of the Aquila constellation,
which is located to the east of the Milky Way.
Nowadays, people believe that if they make a wish in July 7th, the wish come true. So, on the night of 7th July, people write their wishes on colorful paper strips and hang them on bamboo leaves.
If Hikoboshi and Orihime are able to meet each other in that year without problems, the wish you had written on the paper strip will come true.
But, if rains on “Tanabata” night, the wish never come true. Because, the heavenly river will be flooded with rainwater, and both lovers will become unable to meet each other.
In every region of Japan, there will be “Tanabata” festivals held a day before July 7th, and a day afterward. At “Tanabata” festival, there will be rows of stalls just like what you can see in typical temple festivals. Parades and performances will also be held at the venue.
There is also a traditional Tanabata song, which goes as follows: