Over 2000 years ago, according to Chinese folklore, two stars, Vega (a weaver) and Altair (a cow herder), fell in love and married.

The Sky King, Vega’s father, unhappy with the lovers for no longer carrying for their respective duties of weaving fabrics and tending to the herd, separated the lovers to opposite sides of the river, the Milky Way.

However, the Sky King allowed the lovers to meet once a year on July 7th.

On July 7th, a flock of magpies link their wings together to form a bridge. If it rained, the magpies were not able to fly and the lovers would have to wait for a full year. “Earthlings” began writing wishes on pieces of paper and hanging them on bamboo trees for clear skies on July 7th.





Tanabata Festival in Sendai

In the 700s, Japan adopted the Star Festival known now as the Tanabata Festival. After World War II, the City of Sendai began its version of the Tanabata Festival by creating kazari(s), decorations.

The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on July 7 of the Gregorian calendar. The celebration is held at various days between July and August.

Today, the City of Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, host the largest Tanabata Festival in the world with over 7,000 Tanabata Kazari(s) hanging throughout the City.

The flowered papered ball represents the Universe, the ring represents the Milky Way, and the streamers represent the wishes.

Japanese Terms:

Vega (the weaver) – Orihime 織姫

Altair (the cow herder) – Hikoboshi彦星

Milky Way – Amanogawa 天の川

Wish Paper – Tanzaku 短冊

Decorations – Kazari 飾り

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