Kyo no Tanabata
What is Tanabata?
The Tanabata legend tells of two lovers, Hikoboshi (Altair star) and Orihime (Vega star), who are separated by the "river of the heavens" (Milky Way). They are allowed to meet once a year, on the night of July 7.
The Chinese celebrated Kikkoten, where people would pray to the star of Orihime for proficiency in skills such as needlework and calligraphy.
This tradition travelled to Japan during the Nara Period and was combined with a Bon Festival event called Tanabata, which involved loom-weaving for ancestral spirits. This is said to be the origin of Tanabata in Japan.
The Reizei Family of Kyoto still celebrates the tradition of Kikkoten by the lunar calendar.
What is Kyo-no-Tanabata?
Kyo-no-Tanabta is a collection of events held in August, which is when Tanabata falls in the lunar calendar. The events are designed around the theme of "Wishes," in honor of the tradition of "making a wish once a year." It is a ten-day event full of magical productions of bamboo and light, where visitors can enjoy the tradition of Tanabta in true Kyoto style.
The Horikawa Site will offer romantic productions such as the "Milky Way of Light," which replicates the beautiful Milky Way full of stars, and the "Yuzen Nagashi of Light," which embellishes Horikawa River with light and beautiful Yuzen silks. The Kamogawa Site will create a wondrous world with productions such as the "Furinto," a wind chime installation of refreshing sounds, and the "Walkway of Bamboo and Light," an enchanting path of illuminated bamboo shoots.
At each site, visitors can purchase "Picture Postcard Strips" (100 yen each) for writing wishes and attaching them to bamboo leaves. In addition, many temples and shrines in the area will be putting up Tanabata decorations and offering special nighttime admissions.