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The Story of Tanabata

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The Japanese Tanabata Festival is based on a Chinese legend including elements of a Japanese myth already in place. The festival takes place on July 7 every year and is associated with the stars Vega and Altair.

Vega represents Orihime, a princess and weaver who lived with her father, the emperor Tentei, on the eastern side of the river of the Milky Way. Altair represents Kengyuu, a very handsome and brave herdsman who lived on the western side of the river. Orihime and Kengyuu met and fell in love, which pleased everyone including the emperor. However, Orihime spent so much time being with Kengyuu that she began to neglect her weaving work.

This upset her father and he decided to separate the two on opposite sides of the river, to prevent them from meeting except for once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month when a flock of magpies forms a bridge across the Milky Way. The two lovers are then able to be with each other on this one night.

In the night of July 7, people put little bamboo trees in their garden. They also hang papers with wishes written on it on that tree in the hope they become true.

Happy Tanabata!

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