Tanabata - Festival of Star Crossed Lovers

Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival - ajpscs

Tanabata - known as the Star Festival or the Festival of Star Crossed Lovers is one of my favourites. I won't regale you with the whole history (though here's a good article if you'd like to know more), so here's the gist of it:

Two lovers - Hikoboshi (the star Alter) and Orihime (the star Vega) are separated by the Milky Way. Once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh moon, they are allowed to meet. For one night only. Tanabata is a celebration of that day!

Sendai Tanabata Festival - Josep M. Berengueras

These days, Tanabata is celebrated on July 7th or August 7th (depending on where in Japan you are).

Tanabata Streamers - Blast Tour

The celebration of Tanabata, is one full of colour. The traditional fukinagashi streamers and over the top decorations  are quite delightful!

Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival - ajpscs

Some cities are well-known for their huge displays and festivals for Tanabata.  Should you wish to experience Tanabata for yourself, the top three Tanabata festivals take place in Sendai, Hiratsuka, and Ichinomiya.

Tanabata Wishes - Japanese Canadian National Museum

My favourite tradition though, has to be the act of writing a wish on a colourful strip of paper (tanzaku) and hanging it on a bamboo tree. Around Tanabata, you'll actually see these trees here there and everywhere - train stations, shopping centres, schools - often with paper and pencils provided so that you too can make a wish!

Want to see more pictures? Love these images from last year's Tanabata over on Hello Sandwich!