Tanabata, the Star Festival
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Included with Garden Admission
One of the five Go-Sekku seasonal festivals of Japan, Tanabata is traditionally celebrated on the seventh day of the seventh month. Also known as the Star Festival, Tanabata has its roots in a Chinese legend about the love between a young princess, Orihime, who was a weaver, and a handsome young cowherd named Kengyu (represented by the stars Vega and Altair).
As a result of their great love for each other, the weaver neglected her work weaving cloth for the gods and the herdsman neglected his cattle. In punishment, Orihime’s father, the emperor of the heavens, moved the star-lovers to opposite sides of the Milky Way and stated that they would only be allowed to meet once a year: on the seventh day of the seventh month. On this night a flock of heavenly magpies use their wings to form a bridge that the weaver can cross to join her lover. The magpies will only make the bridge if July 7 is a clear night; if it rains, the lovers must wait another year.