Tanabata Matsuri, or the Star Festival, is happening today in Japan!
It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month (July 7!)
There's a famous song by Tegomass about it that I looooooove~~~
You can watch the music video:
(Tegomass is hard to find on YouTube and Vimeo ㅠㅠ)
You can eat tasty mochi with star decorations all over :3
You dress in yukata (a summer kimono) and play with fireworks, lanterns, and other festival games! It's keeps going all through the night.
You also write your wishes on pieces of paper and tie them to bamboo to make them come true :)
If you're interested, here's the Japanese legend about the stars:
Orihime, daughter of the Tentei (the Sky King, or the universe itself), wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the Amanogawa (Milky Way, lit. "heavenly river"). Her father loved the cloth that she wove and so she worked very hard every day to weave it. However, Orihime was sad that because of her hard work she could never meet and fall in love with anyone.
Concerned about his daughter, Tentei arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi who lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa. When the two met, they fell instantly in love with each other and married shortly thereafter. However, once married, Orihime no longer would weave cloth for Tentei and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven. In anger, Tentei separated the two lovers across the Amanogawa and forbade them to meet.
Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again. Tentei was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if she worked hard and finished her weaving. The first time they tried to meet, however, they found that they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river.
It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet.