Tanabata

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People dressed in yukata at Tanabata
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People dressed in yukata at Tanabata

Tanabata (七夕) is the Japanese name for the originally Chinese star festival (see Qi Xi). Held on July 7 the festival celebrates the meeting of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair). The Milky Way, a river made from stars that crosses the sky, separated these two lovers, and they were allowed to meet only once a year. This special day is the 7th of July.

People in Japan celebrate this day by wearing yukata and decorating the bamboo leaves. They write their wishes on the tanzaku and hang them on the leaves. It is said that the Orihime and Hikoboshi would make their dreams come true. Having been decorated, around midnight or on the next day, the bamboo tree is thrown into a river or burned to make them come true.

The Tanabata Festival is held in many places in Japan, mainly along shopping malls and streets which they decorate with large, colorful streamers. The original Tanabata date was based on the lunar calendar which is about a month behind the Gregorian calendar. So some Tanabata festivals are held on July 7, while others are held a month later in Aug. to match the lunar calendar. The most famous Tanabata Festival is held in Sendai, Miyagi in early Aug. While in the Kanto area, the biggest Tanabata festival is held in Hiratsuka, Kanagawa for a few days around July 7.

During the festival, awards are given to the best streamer decorations and events such as a parade and Miss Tanabata contest are held. The many outdoor stalls selling food, providing carnival games, etc., add to the festive atmosphere.

de:Tanabata fr:Tanabata ja:七夕 zh:七夕

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