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Tanabata / The Star Festival

Star Festival features a colorful display of tanzaku, or wish strips, hanging from bamboo. This tradition of writing wishes or prayers comes from the Edo period, when children were encouraged to practice their writing and hang them from bamboo for all to see. Tanabata is one of five seasonal festivals celebrated in Japan since the 8th century.

Tanabata was inspired by an ancient Chinese folk legend of two stars: Orihime, the Weaver Star (Vega), and Hikoboshi, the Cowherder Star (Altair). Orihime and Hikoboshi were in love but were banished by Orihime’s father the Sky King to opposite ends of the Milky Way for neglecting their work to spend time together. Moved by his daughter’s sorrow over this, the Sky King allowed them to meet just once a year on the 7th night of the 7th month. On this night a flock of magpies use their wings to form a bridge so that the Orihime can cross the Milky Way to be united with Hikoboshi. The magpies will only make the bridge if July 7 is a clear night; if it rains, they must wait another year. Because of this legend, many Japanese people pray for a clear night on July 7.

10:30am – 2:30pm PDT: Wish writing in the Yanai Classroom.

11:00am & 12:30pm PDT: Musical performances by Takohachi Q Ensemble (taiko drums, shinobue flute) featuring storytelling of the Tanabata story in the Pavilion’s East Veranda.