2011 Sendai Tanabata Festival, The meeting of Stars, Orihime and Hikoboshi Tanabata in Japan

Every year Japanese people celebrate the Tanabata Festival during the summer. The story behind Tanabata is the romantic meeting of 2 stars. There is one female star, Orihime, and one male star Hikoboshi.  They only get to meet once a year because they are separated by the Milky Way. But when they meet, between them there are many stars lined up in a row which look like a river to the human eye. The Japanese believe this happens every 7th day of the 7th month (according to the lunar calendar) and have been celebrating Tanabata festival for a long time.

The most famous Tanabata festival is the Sendai Tanabata Festival. This year it started on July 6th and it had a special meaning since it was the first Tanabata festival after the Great Tohoku Earthquake. As Sendai is the closest big city to the Earthquake epicenter, the festival was celebrated in a smaller scale compared with the past years. The downtown Sendai was decorated with 3000 bamboos with colorful streamers. 80,000 school kids prepared wings to be put on the ornaments. There was a big sign that had a meaning close to “Let’s return to Smile (or Put a smile on your face).” This year, it is expected that 1,750,000 will visit the city for the festival, down 600,000 from the last year before the quake.

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