Tanabata Matsuri - Orihime and Hikoboshi Star Festival

Japan has many festivals that are expected by many Japanese and foreigners. The Tanabata Matsuri, which is also known as the Festival of Stars, and even as the Festival of the Seventh Night, is one of the most anticipated of the summer, famous for the legend of Orihime and Hikoboshi and their tanzaku decorations.

The festival takes place on the seventh night of the seventh month of the year, starting on the 7th of July and extending until August, but this date varies with the region and country where it is being celebrated. The festival is also celebrated in China, Taiwan, Korea,

Origin of the Tanabata Matsuri Festival

The Tanabata Matsuri Festival (七夕まつり) originated in China. The festival was brought by Empress Koken in 775, having its attribution in the Imperial Palace of Kyoto, in the Heian period. Being popularized in the Edo Period, having its mix at the festival of Obon.


This festival is held across Japan on different dates during the summer, the place with the biggest celebration is in the city of Sendai, capital of Miyagi province, where more than 3000 bamboo poles are erected along the central streets, which attracts many visitors during the festival season.


Legend of origin - Orihime and Hikoboshi

The legend of the Tanabata festival consists of the love story of two stars, Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair).


“A long, long time ago, I lived near the river of stars, Amanogawa (天の que Milky Way), a princess who had the name Orihime (織姫), who was called as the“ Princess Weaver ”, because she wove beautiful clothes, however, she was always sad because she was always busy and didn't have time to fall in love.

Her father, Emperor “Tenkou-Sama (天工 Heavenly Lord)”, noticed his daughter's sadness, then introduced him to a young boy, who was called “Hikoboshi (彦星 Prince Shepherd)”, because he believed that he was the ideal match for his daughter.

The two fell in love, and from that moment on, their lives revolved around love, so that they let go of their daily chores and obligations.


The Heavenly Lord, saddened by the couple's irresponsibility, decided to separate them, forcing them to live on opposite sides of the Milky Way.


Allowing them to meet only once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, as long as they fulfilled their obligations.

Thus, every year, on this date, from the mouth of the Milky Way, a boatman from the moon takes Orihime to meet his beloved, Hikoboshi. Although, in case the princess did not perform her duties in the best possible way, the Heavenly Lord caused it to rain, flooding the river and preventing the boatman from coming to get her.


On these occasions, Kasasagi (group of birds), helped the princess to cross the river, forming a bird bridge over the Milky Way. ”

Tanzaku - Tanabata Decoration

One of the decorations and acts that are made in Tanabata Matsuri, which contains great symbolism, is Tanzaku (短冊).

It is tradition that on the day of the Festival, people write wishes in small notes, and that at the end they put the tickets tied in bamboo. This custom started in 1818.


Tanzaku tickets have the following colors and meanings:

  • White (peace)
  • Yellow (money)
  • Green (hope)
  • Red passion)
  • Rose (love)
  • Blue (protection of the skies)

At the end of the celebration, the tickets are burned, with the purpose that the wishes reach the skies. So that according to the legend, the stars Altair and Vega can fulfill their wishes.

Song of Tanabata Matsuri

There is a song from the festival that all children learn at school, the lyrics are as follows:

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Sasa no ha sara-sara
Nokiba ni yureru
Ohoshi-sama kira-kira
Kin Gin sunago

Goshiki no tanzaku
Watashi ga kaita
Ohoshi-sama kira-kira
Sora kara miteru
笹の葉 さらさら
軒端 に ゆれる
お星さま キラキラ
金 銀 砂ご
五色 の たんざく
私 が かいた
お星さま キラキラ
空 から みてる
The bamboo leaves, murmur, murmur,
Shaking your ends
The stars shine, shine,
Like gold and silver dust

On long, colorful papers,
I wrote (my wishes)
The stars shine, shine,
Watching from the sky

Tanabata Matsuri in Japan

There are several Tanabata Festivals in Japan, each city takes place on a different date. You can't present a list with the exact date, because things can change. For this reason, we will leave a list with the names of the festivals, city and month.

It usually happens on the sixth or seventh day of the month, or the entire first week. It is best to search the official website of the city in question. Just search for the name of the event that I will leave in Japanese, so you can find the exact date and location.

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FestivalJapanese nameCity / Province Month
Mobara Festival茂原七夕まつりMobara, ChibaJuly
Hodachi Tanabata Chirico Festival宝立七夕キリコ祭りHodachi-cho, Suzu, IshikawaAugust
Taira Festival平七夕まつりTaira, Iwaki, FukushimaAugust
Fussa Festival福生七夕まつりFussa, TokyoAugust
Oyama no Tanabata Nagare尾山の七夕流しOyama, Kurobe, ToyamaAugust
Hachinohe Tanabata Festival八戸七夕まつりHachinohe, AomoriJuly
Noshiro Nebunagashi (Nodoka Festival)能代役七夕(能代ねぶながし)Noshiro, AkitaAugust
Tanabata River Iruma Festival入間川七夕まつりSayama, SaitamaAugust
Tsuchiura Kirara Festival土浦キララまつりTsuchiura, IbarakiAugust
Festival Oita大分七夕まつりOita, OitaAugust
Maebashi Festival前橋七夕まつりMaebashi, GunmaJuly
Sendai Festival仙台七夕まつりSendai, MiyagiAugust
Morioka Festival盛岡七夕まつりMorioka, IwateAugust
Shimizu Festival清水七夕まつりShimizu Ward, Shizuoka, ShizuokaJuly
Metropolis Water Festival水都まつりOgaki, GifuAugust
Festival Mito Kinmon (festival)水戸黄門まつりMyth, IbarakiAugust
Fukaya Festival深谷七夕まつりFukaya, SaitamaJuly
Kamifukuoka Festival上福岡七夕まつりKamifukuoka, Fujimino, SaitamaAugust
Shonan Hiratsuka Festival湘南ひらつか七夕まつりHiratsuka, KanagawaJuly
Matsusaka Festival松阪七夕まつりMatsusaka, MieAugust
Ogawamachi Festival小川町七夕まつりOgawamachi, SaitamaJuly
Funami Festival舟見七夕まつりFunami, Nyuzen, ToyamaJuly
Shrine Summer Festival七夕神社夏祭りOgori, FukuokaJuly
Painting Lantern Festival七夕絵どうろうまつりYuzawa, AkitaAugust
Launch of the Tanabata Balloon七夕バルーンリリースTokushima, TokushimaJuly
Yamaguchi Tanabata Lantern Festival山口七夕ちょうちんまつりYamaguchi, YamaguchiAugust
Miki-machi Festival Ikenobe Tanabata三木町いけのべ七夕まつりMiki, KagawaAugust
Takaoka Tanabata Festival高岡七夕まつりTakaoka, ToyamaAugust
Tanabata de Toede Festival戸出七夕まつりToede-machi, Takaoka, ToyamaJuly
Furumachi Tanabata Festival古町七夕まつりFurumachi, Chuo-ku, Niigata, NiigataJuly
Keio University Tanabata SFC Festival慶應義塾大学SFC七夕祭Fujisawa, KanagawaJuly
Kiryu Yagi-bushi Festival桐生八木節まつりKiryu, GunmaAugust
Hashimoto Festival橋本七夕まつりMidori-ku, Sagamihara, KanagawaAugust
Tanabata Festival at Osaka Shrine機物神社七夕まつりKatano, OsakaJuly
Tanabata Festival in central Tokyo下町七夕まつりTaito Ward, TokyoJuly
Endoji Festival円頓寺七夕まつりNagoya, AichiJuly
Echigo-Murakami Festival越後村上七夕祭Murakami, NiigataAugust
Ichinomiya Festival一宮七夕まつりIchinomiya, AichiJuly
Angel Festival安城七夕まつりAngel, AichiAugust
Asaya Festival阿佐谷七夕まつりAsaya, Suginami-ku, TokyoAugust
Festival of the Seven Nettlesけんか七夕まつりKesen-cho, Rikuzentakata, IwateAugust
Ugoku Tanabata Festivalうごく七夕まつりRikuzentakata, IwateAugust

Tanabata Matsuri in Brazil

In Brazil, the festival of the Stars was held for the first time in the city of Assaí in the State of Paraná in 1978. Then the event started to be held annually in Bairro da Liberdade, in the city of São Paulo. Usually in Brazil, the festival takes place on the 7th and 8th of July.


Nowadays, the festival is held in many other Brazilian cities, such as Santo André and Ribeirão Preto, Araraquara and ABC. Having a typical colorful decoration, presentations, folk dances and even shows.