Tanabata(七夕)- The Stars Festival: July 7

: Japan celebrates the Stars festival, known as Tanabata on every July 7th. Tanabata literally means ‘the seventh night’. The story behind Tanabata and the festival itself originated in China. And the star festival is held on the seventh day of the seventh Lunar month. In Japan, it is usually celebrated on July 7th, and in some places on August 7th. We can see streets decorated with colourful paper streamers. and lights during this months. Some cities even held the Tanabata festival, in July-August months which will be usually a summer festival. These festivals will be very colourful and performances like dances and other programmes will be also conducted. 

Tanzaku(短冊): The paper strips with wishes written on it.

Tanzaku is the main part of Tanabata festivals. These are colorful paper strips in which people write their wishes, and hang them on bamboo branches with the belief that these wishes will come true. Schools and houses, especially homes with children will keep a bamboo branch with their wishes hung on it. Along with the paper strips, other decorations will also be hanged on these bamboo branches.

Stroy behind Tanabata

The story behind Tanabata is originated in China many many years ago. It is the story of two stars. princess Orihime, a seamstress, and Hikoboshi, a cowherd boy fell in love with each other. They even forget about their work while playing with each other. This made the king angry and he separated the lovers at the opposite directions of the Amano River. But he abated with giving permission to meet each other once in a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Lunar year. That day is celebrated as Tanabata.

Orihime and Hikoboshi are representatives of the stars Vega and Altair which are separated by the Milky way(represented by Amanogawa). They are believed to meet around July- August months. It is believed that the two stars couldn’t meet on Tanabata if it rains. So Japanese pray for clear weather on the Tanabata festival day.

We can see the decorations for Tanabata everywhere in Japan during July-August months. Japanese believe that the wishes written on the Tanzaku will come true when the lover stars meet each other. Let it won’t rain on this year’s Tanabata and the lover stars could meet each other.