Join us to tie wishes to the bamboo and watch our giant Tanabata star ornaments swish in the breeze. This weekend of activities includes Japanese storytelling, musical instrument demonstrations, origami, and calligraphy! Events free with general admission.
Tanabata (literally “evening of the seventh”) is a star festival celebrated in Japan, traditionally on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. It originates from the legend of the star-crossed lovers Orihime (represented by the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (represented by the star Altair).
In one version of the story, Orihime was a great weaver who was very lonely. One day, she met the cowherd Hikoboshi, and she fell so in love that she spent all her time with him, neglecting her weaving duties. Her father, the King of the Sky, became furious. He separated the lovers and forbade them from ever meeting.
Orihime became depressed and refused to continue her weaving. Her father made a compromise: should Orihime be diligent in her work, he will allow them to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month.
On that day, she excitedly rushed to meet him, but they were separated by a great river (the Milky Way), and there was no bridge to allow her to cross. Magpies, moved by her plight, flew down and made a bridge for her to be reunited with her lover. But should it rain during Tanabata, the river will be too turbulent for the magpies to form a bridge, and the lovers will have to wait another year.
The star festival is now celebrated with parades and many elaborate decorations. Today, different regions celebrate Tanabata on different dates, with some regions following the lunar calendar, and other regions following the Gregorian calendar.