Tanabata (Star Festival) Day, Japan

Tanabata (Star Festival) Day, Japan

Tanabata (Star Festival), Japan


Celebration Date
Other Name
Star Festival
Holiday Type
Not National Holiday


Tanabata (Japanese: Tanabata, meaning "Evening of the seventh"), also known as the Star Festival, is a Japanese festival originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.

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

History of Tanabata Festival

The festival was introduced to Japan by the Empress Koken in 755. It originated from "The Festival to Plead for Skills" (Kikkoden), an alternative name for Qixi, which was celebrated in China and also was adopted in the Kyoto Imperial Palace from the Heian period. anabata is one of Japan’s five traditional seasonal festivals, or gosekku, originating in China and first observed in Japan by the ancient imperial court. The stellar holiday centers on the stars Vega and Altair in the constellations Lyra and Aquila, respectively. Following the ancient Chinese lunar calendar, the festival marks the once-yearly meeting of Orihime (Vega), the weaver star and patron of silk farming, and Hikoboshi (Altair), the cowherd star and agricultural messenger. According to the folktale, Orihime, a gifted weaver, and Hikoboshi, a hard-working cow herder, began to neglect their duties upon being wed. The couple incurred the wrath of the bride’s father Tentei, the emperor of heaven, and were exiled to separate ends of the Milky Way.

They are granted a meeting each July 7 so long as they both diligently fulfill their celestial obligations during the other days of the year. The legend behind the star festival first crossed over to Japan from China during the Nara period (710–94) in the form of a weaving festival for young women aspiring to bolster their talents on the loom. The story merged with the Japanese legend of tanabata-tsume, the tale of a celestial maiden who weaves clothes for the gods, as well as other native cultural aspects to produce a unique Chinese-infused Japanese tradition.




Share post