July 6, 2023
What is Tanabata about?
Tanabata, also known as the Star Festival, is a traditional Japanese festival celebrated on July 7th. The festival has its roots in a Chinese legend and is observed in various regions of Japan. The word “Tanabata” means “Evening of the seventh (七夕).”
According to the legend, Tanabata celebrates the annual meeting of two deities, Orihime (represented by the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (represented by the star Altair). These deities are believed to be lovers who are separated by the Milky Way throughout the year. However, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month, a bridge of magpies is said to form across the Milky Way, allowing the two deities to meet.
During Tanabata, people write their wishes on strips of paper known as tanzaku and hang them on bamboo branches. These bamboo decorations, adorned with colorful paper streamers and ornaments, can be found in various public spaces, shopping streets, and households during the festival. The festival is also celebrated with parades, traditional dances, music, and fireworks.
Different regions in Japan have their own unique customs and variations of Tanabata celebrations. In Osaka, where Ikeuchi’s headquarter is located, the Okawa river is filled with LED lights to create the impression of the milky way. These are not normal LED lights, but “Inori-boshi” lightballs which attendees can fill with their wish on a note inside.