On July 7th evening, we celebrate the Tanabata (七夕) or the Star Festival across Japan. (Some areas take it in August according with old lunar calendar) .
Tanabata festival has a well-known tragic love story between Orihime princess and Kengyu living in the sky. The stories vary, however, the two lovers became infatuated with love and they neglected their duties. Princess Orihime, was a professional weaver, stopped weaving her pretty clothes and Kengyu, a cowherd, let his cows to stray. The emperor, father of Princess was so angry that he estranged them by Milky Way. They both backed to work hard and Orihime begged her father to allow her to meet with Kengyu again. He felt remorsed for them and allow her to meet Kengyu only once in a year on the 7th day of the 7th month after finishing her work.
At the first, they couldn’t wade Milky Way, but how?
It is a flock of magpie helped lovers meet to serve themselves as a bridge.
But unfortunately when it rains, they cannot meet each other due to the magpie cannot make a bridge. It’s a tear jerk story.
Both lovers represent by the first‐magnitude stars by Vega and Altair. They are very popular stars in Summer, too. On the festival night, we all pray for it will never rain. (but normally it is in the rainy season…)
Before in Japan, the celebration was held in August with Bon ritual. So we decorate Bamboo with many Tanzaku, the colored papers with handwritten wishes on it, in order to our wish come true. Same as Christmas trees, many bamboos are seen anywhere in school, shopping street, at the veranda, etc. It’s fun to read what people are wishing for. For example: to be rich, to be popular, to pass the exam. Many Tanabata festivals have been cancelled for these two years. We’ll see many wishes like “May COVID19 will subside and peace will return so soon”.
Tanzaku & Bamboo decorations: Sendai Tanabata Festival Support Association https://www.sendaitanabata.com/english/pc/outline/photo/index.html
Tanabata bamboo float: limelight