Tanabata Matsuri

(Star Festival)

July 7

July 7 is Tanabata Matsuri (Star Festival) in Japan. This festival is originated in ancient China and came to Japan in 9th century. It is based on an ancient Chinese legend of two stars, Altair (Kengyuu or Hikobashi) and Vega (Shukujo or Orihime) in the summer night sky.

Long long time ago, there once was a brave herdsman whose name was Hikoboshi (Kengyu) on the west coast of the Milky Way, and there was a very skillful weaver whose name was Orihime (Shukujo) on the east coast of the Milky Way. They fell in love at the first sight and neglected their works. The Emperor got angry at them and forbid them to see each other but once a year on the night of July 7. Separated by the vast expanse of the Milky Way, they longed for their once-a-year date on July 7. Magpies formed a bridge over the River of Heaven so that Hikoboshi could cross the river to meet Orihime. But if it rained, magpies couldn't form the bridge and two lovers had to wait for July 7 of the following year.

The celebration began to be practiced in Japanese emperor's court in the 9th century. Samurai feudal lords took on this tradition, which gradually spread among the general public throughout the country.

Incidentally, the star Vega was regarded as the guardian of artistic talents. The ladies of Japanese emperor's court nobilities, in the 14th century, began to write poems and wishes on Tanzaku (strips of colored paper) and offer them to Vega by tying them onto bamboo branches (the bamboo was a sacred tree in those days in Japan). The bamboo decorations you see on the Tanabata Festival street today trace back to this ancient Japanese tradition.

My Wish (English)


My Star Hero, Hobo-Wan

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