Tanabata, or "the festival of the star Vega," is celebrated around Japan on the 7th day of the 7th month (though later in some rural parts of Japan). The festival originated in China and is the celebration of the meeting of the stars Vega and Altair in the Milky Way for their annual lover's tryst. The festival is especially popular with young children.
There are larger Tanabata-themed festivals in Japan--Sendai's festival is the best known--but the festival is more of an occasion to be celebrated at home. Wishes, written on colorful pieces of paper, are hung on bamboo. They are known as "tanzaku" in Japanese, and are usually about health, wealth, love, and the educational success of one 's children.
The bamboo pictured here with its many "tanzaku" is typical. It has been placed just inside the exterior gate of a Kyoto home.
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