Tanabata, also called the Japanese Star Festival is a popular festival in Japan that is celebrated on the 7th of July every year. The 7th day of the 7th month depicts the story of the star crossed lovers Orihime and Hikoboshi that is represented by the stars Vega and Altair. On this time of the year, the Japanese write their wishes on colorful strips of paper and tie them on bamboo branches. This is also a day where you'll see girls wearing colorful Yukata and fireworks are often lit to celebrate the occasion.

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The Legend of the Tanabata starts with our main characters Orihime and Hikoboshi and although there are some varying versions of the story, it all leads to a common end.

Princes Orihime was a seamstress that weaves beautiful clothes while Hikoboshi was a shepherd. One day the two met each other and fell in love. They were so engrossed of the feelings that they have for each other and they neglected their roles. Orihime stopped weaving beautiful clothes and Hikoboshi neglected his responsibility of guarding his herd. Due to this, Orihime's father (A God) was angered and forcefully separated the two of them. Orihime cried day and night and pleaded until her father finally gave up. He gave them both a condition that he will allow them to meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month if they both fulfill their duties without fail.

The two of them were delighted and once again focused on their tasks in order to clear the conditions. A year has passed since then and both of them were allowed to meet each other. However, on that fateful day the river (Milky Way) was flooded and it was impossible to cross (Ironically July is also part of the rainy season in Japan). The two lovers were greatly depressed and could only look at each other from afar. The magpies took pity on both of them and decided to form a bridge in order for the two of them to finally be reunited.

In some versions of the story, it is said that if it rains on the day of Tanabata the magpies will not appear and the two of them would have to wait for another year in order to meet and hold each other. This is the reason why people on the day of Tanabata sometimes hope that the weather will be clear so that this legend will come to pass.

Don't worry, even though it rains on Tanabata...you should remember that way above the clouds, on the skies of the Milky Way the stars Altair and Vega will always meet each other! The two of them will still have their happy ending and hopefully, your wish will be granted as well. So when Tanabata comes, make sure to write your wish and pray that the magpies will pick it up and will allow it to be fulfilled!

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On a lighter note, this festival is very popular with couples and they would often go out on dates during Tanabata. Kids also take part in this event and they are the ones who carefully write their wishes on those colorful strips of papers. There is also a saying that if you tie your wish on the highest place of the bamboo branch, your wish will have a higher chance of getting granted. Just be careful when tying your wish so that you will not have any accidents.

Join me again next time as we take a journey to find the most interesting things that is uniquely Japan!