Tanabata Matsuri, also known as the Star Festival, is a Japanese Festival celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month — the July 7 of the Gregorian calendar.
The story of Tanabata Matsuri was about a princess, named Orihime (Weaving Princess). She was the daughter of Tentei (Sky King). Everyday she went to the bank of Amanogawa (Milky Way, or sometimes called the Heavenly River) to weave clothes. Her father loved the clothes very much so she worked hard to weave it. However, Orihime was sad because of her constant work, she could never have the chance to meet and fall in love with anyone. Tentei became concerned, so he let Orihime meet Hikoboshi (Cow Herder). Hikoboshi lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa.
When instantly fell in love when they first met, then got married. But ever since their marriage, Orihime would no longer weave clothes for Tentei. Also, Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over heaven. Tentei got angry, and separated the couple across Amanogawa and forbade them to meet again. Orihime became really depressed because of this and she begged her father, Tentei, to let them meet again. Tentei was moved because of Orihime’s tears, so he allowed Orihime and Hikoboshi to meet every 7th day of the 7th month if she worked hard on her weaving. When they first tried to meet again, they found out that they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. Orihime cried a lot that a flock of magpies came, promising her to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river. Orihime and Hikoboshi represented the stars Vega and Altair.
The Japanese people celebrate Tanabata by making Tanzaku. A Tanzaku is made by getting a strip of colored paper and writing your wishes on it. Then, these strips of paper will be attached to freshly cut bamboos. Usually, people place these in front of their houses or in the rooftops.
By the night of Tanabata, the Japanese people go out in their Yukatas. Each of Japan’s cities have a different way of celebrating Tanabata Matsuri; most of them have street parties. On July 7, or August 7 (in accordance with the lunar calendar), the Japanese people decorate their streets with lanterns, streamers, etc. Some events include singing, dancing, parades, reenactments, goldfish scooping, food booths, sumo contests, fireworks, etc.
Tanabata Matsuri is one of the most magical nights in Japan. It is when people go out of their houses and gather in the streets, celebrating the festival together. It is when everyone, regardless of age, wish for what they want, believing that it will soon be granted. It is when everyone enjoy their night; being stress-free, calm, and full of hope.