Yearning for a reunion. Experience Tanabata, a summer tradition.

Do you know about Tanabata? We would like to introduce a summer event based on the story of Orihime and Hikoboshi.

In Japan, July 7 is called “Tanabata,” and everyone from children to adults enjoys the traditional event that has been passed down from old times. The view of towns that are decorated with strips of colored paper, which have people’s wishes written on them, is a summer tradition of Japan.

One of the reasons that Tanabata gained popularity in Japan has to do with the bittersweet love story of a woman and a man, named Orihime and Hikoboshi. According to the legend, the god of the heavens brought together Orihime, his daughter and a hardworking seamstress, and Hikoboshi, a cow herder who was also hardworking. The two fell in love at first sight and got married, but Hikoboshi stopped working and began playing around. Seeing that, the god got angry and separated the two across the Milky Way. However, Orihime cried and pleaded, so the god allowed the two to meet only once a year on the night of Tanabata, July 7, by crossing the Milky Way.

The Milky Way—where Orihime and Hikoboshi reunite

Another interesting fact. Orihime and Hikoboshi are likened to first-magnitude stars Vega of Lyra and Altair of Aquila respectively that are located across the Milky Way. Both of them are bright stars that shine down on Japan during summer, so it would also be nice to observe the stars.

Tanabata is said to have become popular among ordinary people over 400 years ago during the Edo period. Children back then were writing their wishes on strips of paper using an ink brush, so many of them wished for better reading and writing proficiency, and many women wished for improved handicraft skills since Orihime was a good weaver.

Today in Japan, people enjoy Tanabata in various ways, by using somen noodles to resemble the Milky Way or Orihime’s weaving yarns, or by freely writing their wishes on strips of paper and hanging them on bamboo branches, for example.

Sendai Tanabata Festival is held from August 6 through August 8 every year.

If you are visiting Japan during summer, definitely go to Tanabata festivals held throughout Japan. These Tanabata festivals are held during the period between early July and August.

The largest Tanabata festival in Japan is Sendai Tanabata Festival held in Miyagi. Known as one of the largest summer festivals in Japan as with Nebuta Festival in Aomori and Gion Festival in Kyoto, the gorgeous and spectacular bamboo decorations that over two million people come to see every year is simply mind-blowing. When you come to Japan, it is also recommended to visit one of the festivals and experience Tanabata. If you can’t come to Japan, then why not look up at the sky on the night of July 7 and think about the reunion of Orihime and Hikoboshi? (Information as of June,2023)