Tanabata: Japan’s star festival

04 Jul 2018 in Discover Japan

All you need to know about the colourful Tanabata Matsuri – one of Japan’s biggest summer festivals!

star-festival
Best known as the Star Festival, Tanabata is Japan’s celebration of the once-yearly meeting of the stars Vega and Altair. The festivities kick off on July 7, although the date varies around the country depending on whether the lunar or Gregorian calendar is used.

tanabata

Why celebrate the coming-together of two stars? According to legend, the stars represent the lovers Orihime, a talented weaver, and Hikoboshi, a cow herder, who were exiled to far ends of the Milky Way for neglecting their duties. Only once a year are they allowed to briefly reunite.

Tanabata is a colourful affair, with a dazzling array of decorations all imbued with special meaning. Bright streamers represent threads for those hoping to become better weavers.

flag

Folded origami cranes are for longevity, while net-like amikazari are hung by fishermen hoping for a good catch.

origami

amikazari

If you’d like to wish for something else, you can write your request on a colourful strip of paper known as a tanzaku, which is then attached to a bamboo branch for the best chances of fulfilment.

tanzaku

The most famed Tanabata is held August 6-8 in Sendai, an easy day trip from Hoshino Resorts Bandaisan Onsen Hotel.

bandaisan

You can expect spectacular parades, music, dance, fireworks and food stalls proffering long thin noodles known as sōmen.

somen

The highlight, though, is a trip to Sendai’s shopping malls – where you’ll be immersed in a thicket of colourful streamers, each lovingly handcrafted by the local community using bamboo and washi paper.

sendai

drapeau

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