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The Myth and the Festival
On the eastern bank of Heaven's River lived the daughter of the Master of Heaven. Night and day her shuttle flew across the loom as she wove the beautiful cloth that was worn by the gods who lived in her father's palace. So diligent was she that she was called Orihime, Weaving Girl.
When Orihime came of age, her father chose a husband for her. Her betrothed tended oxen on the western bank of Heaven's River. He, too, was diligent at his work and was called Hikoboshi, Oxherd Boy.
At their first meeting Orihime and Hikoboshi fell deeply in love. After their wedding they went on a honeymoon which lasted so long that Hikoboshi's herds wandered and the gods' clothes began to fade. Still the bride and groom did not return. The oxen grew thin and the gods' clothes grew worn.
Finally, the Master of Heaven became so angry that he had the heavens searched for the young couple. When they were brought back to him, he condemned them to be separated forever by the Silver River. But, moved by his daughter’s tears, he relented, allowing them to meet one day a year, on the seventh night of the seventh month.
Tanabata Story (七夕物語) Art work, Lyrics & Vocal by Takahiro Miyao Music by Sadao Watanabe & Piano by Kunihiko Murai Presented at Kaji Aso Studio in Boston for Tanabata Festival on July 8, 2017
On July 7, the Weaving Girl and the Oxherd Boy (symbolized by the stars Vega and Altair) meet across the Silver River (the Milky Way). It is sometimes said that she rides a cucumber horse and he an eggplant cow.
Each year, dew drops are gathered to make ink to write wishes and to write poems honoring the two lovers. These are written on strips of paper that are hung with colored threads upon bamboo branches. Other decorative streamers are also hung for good luck. So that the wishes may come true, the next day children take the bamboo branches to the nearest stream to be carried away by the currents.