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What is July 7th (Tanabata / 七夕 / たなばた) like in Japan?

 

Be on the lookout for Tanabata (七夕/たなばた) starting July 7th!!

 

Tanabata is the story of two star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who are fated to only be able to meet just one day out of the entire year.

During this time you will witness beautiful and colorful decorations throughout the city. You may encounter energetic parades dancing through the streets, and even Tokyo Tower usually holds a special event disguising itself as a star. There will also be illumination events at night throughout the country, showcasing the thousands of wishes the people of Japan have for their future, romance, work life, and everything in between!

Part of the tradition of Tanabata (七夕/たなばた) is writing your wish on a piece of paper called tanzaku (短冊/たんざく) and tying it on to tree leaves (typically bamboo leaves). Some people have their own personal quirky traditions during Tanabata (七夕/たなばた), like throwing a temaki (手巻き/てまき, hand-rolled) sushi party, or visiting personally meaningful locations every year.

During Tanabata (七夕/たなばた) you will see tanzaku (短冊/たんざく) and bamboo trees everywhere you go, whether it’s at the station, schools, grocery and department stores, or pretty much anywhere a large amount of people will gather. You will see it as often as Christmas trees during season in the West. There was one time we were at a restaurant and were given free tanzaku (短冊/たんざく) to write our wishes on and was immediately displayed on the restaurant’s tree! Speaking of which, during this time tanzaku (短冊/たんざく) will almost always be free, so write down your wishes to your heart’s content!

Although Tanabata (七夕/たなばた) is the day of making wishes and involves folklore that originated in China, you are not necessarily praying to any certain deity or deities, but rather it is similar to the idea of making a wish when you see a shooting star, or as you blow out a birthday cake.

So get your wishes ready this year and don’t be surprised when an entire country collectively comes alive with a festive mood and colorful decorations!!

Have you ever experienced Tanabata in Japan before? Do you have anything similar where you’re from? What is your most memorable Tanabata moment? Let us know!

 

Written by Ryuta Yoshimizu / We Customer Success Lead

 

 

2019.07.01

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