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Star Festival: History and Significance of Colours of Tanzaku to Make a Wish on Tanabata in Japan



Star Festival or Tanabata

As indicated by legend, every July 7 the weaver star and cow herder star traverse the Milky Way to restore their ancient bond of love. Otherwise called Star Festival, Tanabata (たなばた or 七夕) is a Japanese festival signifying “Evening of the seventh.”

In Japan, the lovers are celebrated with energetic decorations and wishes composed on lengthy, narrow strips of coloured paper. Noticed all through the country, numerous cities, remembering Sendai for Miyagi Prefecture, have become famous for hosting elaborate celebrations.

Tanabata is one of Japan’s five customary festivals known as ‘gosekku’ and it is an intriguing opportunity to visit the country. Be that as it may, the Tanabata dates change between various regions.

Tanabata, likewise called the ‘star festival,’ is a romantic holiday in light of an old legend from China that falls on the seventh day of the seventh month. As per the legend, Hikoboshi (‘Starboy’; Altair) and Orihime (‘Weaver Girl’; Vega) fell in love and spent all their time together, losing interest in their work.

Enraged by their carelessness, the king of paradise exiled them to opposing sides of the Milky Way. From that point forward, the two lovers have been permitted to cross the Milky Way just once per year to meet each other on Tanabata. To this end, individuals pray God for a clear night on July 7th, so the heavenly lovers will actually want to meet.

The history of Tanabata in Japan is extremely old. Manyōshū, the most seasoned existing book of verse, contains numerous poems featuring this legend. Around the Tanabata festival, bamboo trees decorated with colourful strips of paper are a typical sight.

Each strip of paper bears a wish written on it. Numerous towns and cities in Japan have a Tanabata festival around July seventh, and the roads are festive with decorative bamboo displays.


With regard to dynamic, colourful celebrations, the Japanese do have not many adversaries. The Tanabata Festival is quite possibly the most noticeable and bright festival that happens all over Japan in the wonderful summer months.

Star Festival is well established in Japanese culture. The Tanabata celebration depends on a legend around two lovers represented by the stars Altair and Vega. The story is around two star-crossed lovers who are allowed to meet just one time per year.

The story resembles this: Orihime (Vega), a weaver princess name, and Hikoboshi (Altair), a cow-herder, fall in love. Diverted by their budding love, the lovers don’t take care of their obligations. Orihime quits winding around, and Hikoboshi’s cows are ignored.

This went poorly with Orihime’s father, the ‘Sky King’ or ‘Emperor of Heaven,’ who isolated the two lovers by enlarging the “heavenly river,” or Milky Way.

Notwithstanding, seeing his daughter made Orihime’s father remorseful, who surrendered to his little daughter’s impulses and permitted the two lovers to meet every year, on the seventh day of the seventh month. However, there was a condition that Orihime her wonderful weaving.

Star festival began with the Chinese Qixi Festival. During the Qixi Festival, young girls and boys would compose wishes on strips of paper. Star Festival was acquainted with Japan by Empress Kōken in 755 A.D It used to be the celebration of the imperial court aristocrats who might stargaze, compose poetry, and hold contests on the day.

The normal individual embraced the holiday during the Edo period from 1603 to 1868. As the celebrations spread all through Japan, Tanabata customs blended in with different Obon, or “Bon,” customs of Japan. The day is celebrated with lights, great food, and an overall state of mind of joy.

Customary SYMBOLS

One of the most famous symbols of the Tanabata festival is the long, thin strips of coloured paper streamers known as “tanzaku.” These papers are hung from bamboo branches, alongside different adornments and origami. Bamboo poles are utilized in additional urban settings, to assist with decorating shops, train stations, and other public spaces.

Very much like in the olden days, it is customary to compose a wish on the tanzaku is standard. Since a bamboo tree grows so tall, the desires should have the option to arrive at the heavens, where divinities can give the wishes or ward off evil spirits.

Other conventional Tanabata decorations and talismans incorporate hanging “kinchaku” bags for prosperity and folded cranes called “orizuru” that represent longevity.

Making a Wish on Tanabata with Tanzaku strips

One of the fundamental traditions of Tanabata is writing one’s desire on a tanzaku (短冊), a colourful paper strip, and hanging it from a bamboo branch.

This practice started during the Edo period. Back then, it is said that many wished for better penmanship or craftsmanship.

Tanzaku comes in five colours: red, blue, yellow, white, and dark. These colours depend on the five elements of old China, from which nature was supposed to be gotten.

These elements are wood, fire, earth, metal, and water, to which blue, red, yellow, white, and black correspond. Black is many times supplanted by purple, as the colours have a strong connotation of bad luck.

Every one of the colours has different meanings, as well. Coordinate your wish with the right coloured tanzaku for a higher opportunity in your wishes coming true!

Red Tanzaku

Red represents gratuity towards your parents and predecessors. Utilizing the red tanzaku is recommended while writing wishes connected with one’s parents and predecessors. In feng-shui, red is the colour of “determination”.

Blue Tanzaku

Blue represents courtesy and manners. For those working away at self-betterment, the blue tanzaku is the best approach. In feng-shui, blue is the colour of “calmness” and “trust”.

Yellow Tanzaku

Yellow represents friendship and is good for wishes with regard to human relationships. Its feng-shui significance is prospering, so wishes in regards to business and success are additionally fitting.

White Tanzaku

White represents obligation and responsibility, so it is good for individual resolutions. White in feng-shui represents “relaxation” and “betterment of human relationships”.

Black (or purple) Tanzaku

Black is the colour of academics and is ideal for wishes in regards to prowess in skills and academics. In feng-shui, black is a strong colour that adds strength to your wishes.

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