This post was originally published on June 30, 2008. We’re pulling it out of the archives for you to enjoy.  Make a wish!

According to

Because the 7th month of the year roughly coincides with August rather than July according to the formerly used lunar calendar, Tanabata is still celebrated on August 7th in some regions of Japan, while it is celebrated on July 7th in other regions.


Your mission: head to Jusco, check the second floor for a bamboo tree that is adorned with slips of paper called tanzaku. Tanabata is celebrated on July 7th and is somewhat of a Japanese version of Romeo and Juliet. According to the legend, a king of the heavens separated his daughter from her husband because their intense love kept them from their duties. They only meet once a year – on the eve of July 7th – by crossing the milky way. If it rains, the star-crossed lovers will have to put off their reunion for another year. Sort of a Punxsutawney Phil kind of weather prediction.

To celebrate the love story, people write poems and special wishes on colorful strips of paper called tankaku, and hang them from the limbs of bamboo trees.

colorful paper, tankaku, for the tanabata star festival

Two tasks for you dear readers, if you want to get into the spirit of things:

* If you want to stop the dreary rain, so the ill-fated lovers can meet, make a teru-teru-bozu (rainy day boy). You can make these little dolls from tissues and hang them in the window to stop the dreary rain.

* Next, make your own colorful strips and hang them from your artificial rhododendron. This guy went all out on his blog. Check out his groovy printable strips.

* Better yet, post below and we can all share in the plethora of goodness:

What is your tanabata wish for this year?


  1. Having arrived for my 3 week adventure on Okinawa yesterday, I wouldn’t have known what those little strips of paper on the bamboo trees were all about were it not for your post! I saw them in a department store and in several monorail stations during my out and about in Naha today! Thank you so much!!

  2. Staci,
    What is the title of the Japanese story book you got at the Kadena BX? I bought the “Japanese Children’s Favorite Stories”, but it does not have the story on Tanabata. You said I could buy this at the Turtle book store? I looked at the Foster BX for another story book, but they did not have one.
    Thank you!

  3. Wow we’ve been here 2 years and I’m just finding out what this holiday is about! Where have I been lol. Thanks Staci 🙂

    Dakota (1ds)~Wishes to find every pokemon card.
    Memphis (2ds) ~Wishes for an airplane
    Jaxon (3ds)~ Is only 6 months so I’m sure he’s wishing to get up and move lol

    I hope my family and friends continue to have good health and happiness and that my family find the strength to make it though another year away from loved ones.
    And one more…LOWER GAS PRICES!
    Sorry I couldn’t help myself ;}

  4. ok, Staci – Sebastian’s wish is very funny. Glad that’s going on paper.

    Kandy, I echo your sentiment and lovely wish.

    One of my wishes is definitely to help share the spirit and beauty of Okinawa through my portrait & artistic photography. And to get more fit! I’ll be back to tell you Mia’s wish.

  5. What a great summer vacation activity for the kiddies as well! Our Tanbata wishes for this year are finding the deeds and words for drawing out best in our family and friends reflecting our own best self.

  6. Great post, Staci! Just read this story to my kids tonight from our book of Japanese tales that we got from the Kadena BX (or you can get them from the Tuttle Book Store that Kaho reviewed at:

    Will get going on making those tankaku with the family. Our tanbata wishes this year? Continued enjoyment of the wonderful people (Okinawans and Americans alike) and places here on Okinawa for our friends staying behind and safe travels, a smooth transition, and lots of belly laughs in the midst moving madness for my family and others PCS’ing soon. Thanks again for a great post, Staci!