Monday, July 07, 2008

Tanabata Festival

Every year on July 7th, the Tanabata Festival(Star Festival) is celebrated in Japan. The festival celebrates an old Chinese legend about two stars called Vega and Altair, which are separated by the Milky Way.

The god of the sky Ten-kou had a daughter called Orihime(Vega) who wove clothes for the Gods on a tanahata(it is believed the name of this festival comes from this machine). Worried about his daughter working so hard, he introduced her to a shepherd called Kengyu(Altair) and they fell madly in love with each other.

Because their love was so great, they both neglected their duties, which angered Ten-kou. As a result he decided they must be separated and stopped Orihime from meeting Kengyu anymore, by taking her to the other side of the Amanogawa River(the Milky Way), allowing them to just see each other once a year on July 7th.

So last Monday I went to Hiratsuka, which is about an hour outside of Tokyo, to one of the biggest Tanabata festivals in the region. Lining the streets of Hiratsuka were hundreds of beautiful decorations, put up by all the various shops in the area, each one trying to out do the other. There was also a large procession with traditional Japanese dancing. Very nice as I'm sure you'll agree.

Children and adults also write wishes on brightly coloured pieces of paper(tanzaku) and attach them to bamboo branches. On the seventh day of the seventh month, they then make their wish and hope it comes true.

The official website for Hiratsuka is

You can see all the photos