Tanabata ("Evening of the seventh"), also known as the Star Festival, is a Japanese festival originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival.
It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). 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 of the lunisolar calendar.
The date of Tanabata varies by region of the country, but the first festivities begin on July 7th in the Gregorian calendar.
The festival was introduced to Japan by the Empress Kōken in 755.
As an offering to the stars, children set up bamboo branches to which colorful strips of paper-bearing poems are tied.