The Tanabata Festival: Do you Know its Origins?

From July to August, there are many festivals in Japan. Tanabata festival is one of the most famous festivals among them. It is a Japanese star festival and has its origins in the Chinese legend Oxil. There are some big Tanabata festivals in Japan which take place in August, such as the Sendai Tanabata Festival, according to the lunisolar calendar (in which the seventh lunar month is August).

On 7th July, the two stars, Vega and Altair, face each other in the sky. According to the Chinese legend, these stars are lovers which are separated by Amanogawa (the Milky Way), which is between them for the rest of the year. The story is as follows: Orihime (Weaving Princess), the daughter of the sky king, was a hard-working weaver and wove beautiful clothes on the west side of Amanogawa. However, she worked so hard that she barely had time to meet someone and fall in love. So her concerned father, the Sky King, arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (Cow Herder Star) who lived and worked nearby, feeding and washing his cows on the other side of the Amanogawa every day. The Sky King came up with an idea to bring them together. It turned out just as he wished as it was love at first sight and they married shortly afterwards. After their marriage they were together all the time and forgot about everything else. Orihime neglected her weaving and Hikoboshi didn’t take care of his cattle anymore, so the Sky King decided to separate them and to allow them to see each other by crossing the Milky Way just once a year, on 7th July.

Today, the Japanese celebrate this day by writing wishes on small pieces of paper called Tanzaku and hanging them on bamboos with many other different paper decorations made from Origami papers. The decorated bamboos are often brought to a river next to where people live to make their wishes come true.

Furthermore, it is also the best opportunity to enjoy the hottest season by wearing a summer Kimono such as a Yukata for women and a Jinbê for men.


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1 thought on “The Tanabata Festival: Do you Know its Origins?”

  1. It is nice to know that the Tanabata festival has its origin in a Chinese legend. However, we can a pretty different story in China, although the main figures of the story are the same.

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