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Tanabata decoration in Sendai

Tanabata, also known as the "star festival", takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet.

Tanabata tree at a railway station

Because the 7th month of the year roughly coincides with August rather than July according to the formerly used lunar calendar, Tanabata is still celebrated on August 7th in some regions of Japan, while it is celebrated on July 7th in other regions.

One popular Tanabata custom is to write one's wishes on a piece of paper, and hang that piece of paper on a specially erected bamboo tree, in the hope that the wishes become true.

Colorful Tanabata festivals are held across Japan in early July and August. Among the biggest and most famous ones are the Tanabata Festivals of Sendai in August and Hiratsuka near Tokyo in July.

Page last updated: June 26, 2011