Summer in Japan means it’s festival season. From the lively Obon held to remember and celebrate one's ancestors to various fireworks illuminating the night sky, there’s no lack of opportunities to celebrate, the Japanese way. But there's one festival that is especially wonderful and magical: the Tanabata Festival.
The Star Festival, as Tanabata is also called, is celebrated in Japan since 755 and thus has a long and rich tradition within the Japanese calendar. It has its roots in China, in a celebration called Qixi Festival. The tradition was picked up by Empress Koken, the 46th monarch of Japan, who introduced the festival's lore and traditions to Japan. The people loved the idea behind the Star Festival and it was welcomed with open arms.

Orihime and Hikoboshi – The Story Behind Tanabata

Throughout history, quite a few versions of what exactly lead to the Tanabata Festival have emerged.
Undoubtedly, the inspiration was the Chinese tale of "the weaver girl and the cowherd". Let’s look at the most popular version of said story.
Orihime, the Weaving Princess, was so skilled in weaving clothes along the bank of the Heavenly River Amanogawa, the garments she crafted were beautiful and fine like no other. Her father, the Sky King Tentei, loved wearing the clothes his daughter made.
Because of her father's fondness for her garments, Orihime worked hard to weave new and wonderful things day in, day out. While she enjoyed seeing her father happy, she also felt rather sad and lonely – focusing on her weaving, she'd never be able to meet someone and ultimately fall in love.
Her father noticed Orihime's sadness and arranged her to meet Hikoboshi, the Cow Herder that worked on the other side of the Heavenly River. The two of them fell in love the second as they laid their eyes upon each other. They didn't hesitate for long and became married shortly after. Living their life as a happy couple, Orihime neglected her weaving, and Hikoboshi let his cows roam free all over Heaven.
The Sky King was angered by the neglect of the couple's duties, separated them, and ultimately forbade them to meet. Orihime, on one side of the Heavenly River, was heartbroken, as her beloved was out of reach, on the other side of the river. She turned to her father in desperation, pleading him to let her meet her beloved Hikoboshi.
The Sky King couldn't help but notice Orihime's unhappiness and allowed her to see Hikoboshi on the 7th day of the 7th month. When…

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