All About Japan

What is Tanabata?

Festivals Summer Festivals Sendai Miyagi

When it comes to summer traditions in Japan, summer festivals loom large, and chief among them is Tanabata. Also known as the Star Festival, Tanabata is traditionally held on the seventh day of the seventh month of the old lunar calendar, celebrating the legend of the one day of the year when the deities Hikoboshi (identified with the star Altair) and Orihime (identified with Vega), separated by the Milky Way, are allowed to meet.

As the day of Tanabata draws near, people write their wishes and even poems onto colorful strips of paper and attach them decoratively to bamboo trees. Extravagant festivals are held across all of Japan’s regions, with the largest being the Sendai Tanabata Festival in Miyagi Prefecture (August 6-8), which attracts approximately 2 million visitors annually.