July 7th is the Star Festival, in Japanese “Tanabata (七夕)”.
Tanabata (七夕) was inspired by the famous Chinese folklore story, “The Princess and the Cowherd”.
People decorate bamboo with strips of paper on which they have written their wish.
Legend of Tanabata ～A Story of Tragic Love～
Orihime (織姫 Weaving Princess), daughter of the Tentei (天帝, The Lord of Heaven), wove beautiful fabric by the bank of the Milky Way. Her father was very fond of the weavings she made. So, she worked hard every day.
Concerned about his daughter, Tentei arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (彦星, also known as Kengyu, 牽牛) who lived on the other side of the Milky Way and worked as a cowherd. Once they met, they fell in love with each other.
After their marriage, however, Orihime no longer weaved for Tentei, and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven.
In anger, Tentei separated the two lovers across the Milky Way and forbade them to meet. Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again.
Tentei was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if she worked hard and finished her weaving.
Then, for the first time, they tried to meet again, but they could not cross the Milky Way river because there was no bridge.
Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river.
It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come, so they must wait another year to meet.
Which Stars Are They?
Look for Orihime and Hikoboshi in the sky, Orihime is Vega, the brightest star in the constellation Lyra and Hikoboshi is Altair, the brightest star in the constellation Aquila.