Tanabata is a festival rather than a national holiday. It is also known as the "star festival", takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars, Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet.

One popular Tanabata custom is to write one's wishes on a piece of paper, and hang that piece of paper on a specially erected bamboo tree, in the hope that the wishes become true. Among the biggest and most famous ones are the Tanabata Festivals of Sendai in August and Hiratsuka near Tokyo in July.

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