Star Festival, or Tanabata, is celebrated every year in Japan on July 7. This holiday is a religious festival that celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. In Japanese, ‘Tanabata’ means ‘evening of the seventh,’ which is why the day is celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month of the year. The exact dates vary as residents follow the Gregorian and lunar calendars. The day is celebrated across Japan with people decorating their houses with bright lights and confetti to celebrate the meeting of the two lovers. If you think about it, Star Festival is a festival that celebrates love!
History of Star Festival
Star Festival is deeply rooted in Japanese culture. The Tanabata celebration is based on a legend about two lovers represented by the stars Altair and Vega. The story is about two star-crossed lovers who are permitted to meet only once a year. The tale goes something like this: Orihime (Vega), a weaver princess name, and Hikoboshi (Altair), a cow-herder, fall in love. Distracted by their budding love, the lovers do not attend to their duties. Orihime stops weaving, and Hikoboshi’s cows are neglected.
This did not go well with Orihime’s father, the ‘Sky King’ or ‘Emperor of Heaven,’ who separated the two lovers by widening the “heavenly river,” or Milky Way. However, seeing his daughter made Orihime’s father remorseful, who conceded to his daughter’s whims and allowed the two lovers to meet annually, on the seventh day of the seventh month. But there was a condition that Orihime continued her beautiful weaving.
Star festival originated from the Chinese Qixi Festival. During the Qixi Festival, girls and boys would write wishes on strips of paper. Star Festival was introduced to Japan by Empress Kōken in 755 A.D It used to be the celebration of the imperial court aristocrats who would stargaze, write poetry, and hold contests on the day. The common person adopted the holiday during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868. As the celebrations spread throughout Japan, Tanabata traditions mixed with various Obon, or “Bon,” traditions of Japan. The day is celebrated with lights, good food, and a general mood of merriment.
Star Festival timeline
China invents noodles.
Japan celebrates the Star Festival for the first time.
Somen noodles are consumed in Western and Southern Japan.
The common man starts celebrating Star Festival
Star Festival FAQs
Why is the Star Festival celebrated?
Star Festival is celebrated to commemorate the romantic story of two lovers represented by the stars Vega and Altair, who are only allowed to meet each other once a year as long as the skies are clear.
How is Star Festival celebrated?
Tanabata is celebrated by hanging colorful strips of colorful paper and decorating homes and public spaces.
What food is eaten during Tanabata?
Cold somen noodles, takoyaki, yakitori, okonomiyaki are eaten during Tanabata.
How to Observe Star Festival
Treat yourself to cold somen noodles
The star food of the Star Festival is cold somen noodles. These long, thin noodles represent the Milky Way and the threads weaved by Orihime. Serve the delicious noodles with a light dipping sauce.
On Star Festival, the Japanese decorate their homes with paper streamers. You can also celebrate Star Festival your way by decorating your room or workstation with streamers.
Attend a carnival
Japanese people across the world celebrate Star Festival. If you hear about a Tanabata carnival in your city, you should visit it, and you’ll be enchanted by the lights, decorations, and food.
5 Facts About Japan
There are many islands in the nation
6,800, to be precise.
Japanese live really long
The country has more than 70,000 people aged 100 and over.
Japanese trains are very punctual
An 18-second discrepancy in arrival time is considered a delay.
Japanese love their coffee
Japan imports 80% of Jamaica’s coffee.
Slurping is polite in Japan
It indicates you really enjoyed your food.
Why Star Festival is Important
It is an ancient festival
Star Festival is more than a thousand years old and is a really important part of Japanese culture. Celebrating Star Festival is, in a way, also a celebration of the rich history and culture of Japan.
Day to enjoy delicious food
Star Festival is as much about lights and decoration as it is indulging in good food. Somen noodles, takoyaki, and yakitori are some of the foods to enjoy on this day.
Festival of love
Star Festival is essentially a festival of love. The day is special for lovers and a terrific time to enjoy with your partner or confess your love for someone. The day also teaches us the perseverance of love.
Star Festival dates