JapanSeasonal Attractions

All About Tanabata – Tales & Traditions of the Japanese Star Festival

7 July is Tanabata, Japanese Star Festival. I’d like to write everything about this charming festival in this post.

Tanabata Decorations at Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens, Tokyo, Japan

Tanabata is a traditional Japanese festival where people make wishes and send them to stars. They write wishes on long pieces of paper (called tanzaku in Japanese) and hang them on bamboos. The bamboo branches are decorated with paper ornaments (origami).

The romantic legend of Tanabata attracts people from little children to old people.

The Tale of Tanabata

Once upon a time in the far sky…

Orihime was a weave who made a lot of beautiful clothing for gods.

God was grateful for her work, so he found Hikoboshi, a hard-working cattleman, as her boyfriend. Orihime and Hikoboshi fell in love at once. They married and became very happy.

But they were so intoxicated with each other that they stopped working hard. God told them to work again, but they did not. He got angry, so he separated them by the Milky Way so that they cannot meet each other.

Orihime cried and cried every day. Hikoboshi was so sad that he shut himself up. So God promised that he’d allow them to meet once a year on Tanabata if they work again.

After that, Orihime and Hikoboshi have a date at the night of 7 July every year.

The tale is based on the Milky Way that we see in the real world.

Vega is Orihime and Altair is Hikoboshi. The Milky Way is between these light, famous and beautiful stars. Imaginations of ancient people are really amazing – Vega and Altair are lightest in a year on Tanabata.

Tanabata Traditional Music Concert in Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens

The Origin

There is not any fixed theory about the origin of Tanabata. But it is highly possible that 3 things got mixed up in the long history of Japan; A Japanese custom to wish to develop in arts by writing poems on paper, a Japanese legend of a girl weaving for goddess, and the Chinese tale I’ve written above.

How to Make Wishes

In many public places, we can write our wishes freely.

Wishing Place at Kyu Shiba Rikyu Gardens

When you find things like this in stations, public halls, or anywhere, don’t hesitate to write down your wishes!

People’s Wishes hanged on a Bamboo

Tanabata is on 7 July in most places, but it is scheduled in early August in some cities based on Lunar calendar. Are you ready to make wishes on Tanabata night?

Tanabata Links

How to Make Tanabata Decorations – The Easiest Origami (Japanese Paper Crafts) Instructions – Let’s make paper decorations with YouTube videos!

A Trip to Sendai, Japan – Photos of Tanabata Star Festival, Foods & Travel Information – Tanabata Festival in Sendai, the central city in North Japan, is so big and famous. It is held in AUGUST based on Lunar calendar.

Tanabata Festival in Disneyland: A Report of Tanabata Days in Tokyo Disney Sea, Japan – Tokyo Disney Resort is the only Disney Land in the world that holds Tanabata Festival!

3 Rarest Souvenirs in Disney Tanabata Days (Star Festival,) Tokyo Disney Resort, Japan

A Guide to Hamamatsucho – All About its Attractions, Hotels and Transportation – The Japanese garden of Kyu Shiba Rikyu of the photos is here.


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