July 7th is called Tanabata or Star Festival in Japan. The star festival is celebrated in the streets of cities and towns all over Japan. We were fortunate enough to be in Asakusa (Tokyo) on the 7th of July and experienced the fun and colour of a parade and decorated streets. In some regions, where there are rivers, people light lanterns and float them down the rivers.
Apparently, the festival traces its origins back 2000 years to a Chinese tail of a cowherd prince and weaver princes that lived in space.
It seems they spent so much time together they didn’t complete their jobs. The king was angered by their neglect and separated them by the Milky Way, allowing them to meet just once a year-on the seventh day of the seventh month.
Although the festival is thought to have started in China, it was brought to Japan during the feudal period. Now combined with traditional local customs it has become an official event with variations across the nation developed to show their own distinctive way of celebrating.
Japanese people decorate the streets with colourful paper ornaments, streamers and write their wishes on narrow strips of coloured paper and hang them on trees or bamboo branches. The most common decorations are colourful streamers that are said to symbolise the weaving of threads. Other common decorations are like casting nets (good luck for fishing and farming) and money bags (for wealth).