In Japan, Tanabata (meaning “Evening of the Seventh”) is a festival celebrating the reunion of two star-crossed lovers played by the stars Vega and Altair. According to legend, which originates from the Chinese folktale known as kikkoden, the lovers fell so madly in love that they neglected their duties and were ultimately separated by the great divide of the Milky Way. It was only through begging, that they persuaded the Sky King to agree to let them meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month.
Aside from offering the best sweeping views of the Milky Way (if you can escape the city lights), tanabata reminds millions of Japanese to turn their gaze to the heavens, reflect, and hope that their wishes will be answered.
Celebrating is easy. Simply close your eyes and write a wish on a strip of paper (called tanzaku). Hang your tanzaku from your favorite tree or, more traditionally, a piece of bamboo, and hope that they come true.
WORDS BY SAM GEAN