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Japanese Garden in Balboa Park Celebrates Tanabata Festival

Japanese Garden in Balboa Park Celebrates Tanabata Festival

A Fukinagashi, streamer decorations of fabric, hangs over bonsai trees at the Tanabata Festival in the Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

Julianne Foster

Julianne Foster

7/13/2023

Updated: 7/13/2023

Hundreds of people—many wearing kimonos and other traditional Japanese clothing—gathered to celebrate the annual Tanabata Festival held by the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park in San Diego on July 7.
Also known as the “Star Festival,” the event originates from Chinese culture and celebrates the one day a year star-crossed lovers, Orihime, a weaver, and her beloved Hikoboshi, a cowherd—embodied by the stars Vega and Altair—come together after being separated by the Milky Way.
Guests at the Balboa Park Japanese Friendhsip Garden play games and activities for the annual Tanabata Festival in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

Guests at the Balboa Park Japanese Friendhsip Garden play games and activities for the annual Tanabata Festival in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

The Southern California Koto Ensemble performs on cultural stringed instruments for the Tanabata Festival in the Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

The Southern California Koto Ensemble performs on cultural stringed instruments for the Tanabata Festival in the Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

The festival featured family-friendly games, crafts, and activities for all ages at the top of the garden’s hill—which represents the friendship between San Diego and its Japanese sister city Yokohama, according to the Balboa Park website.
Vendors offered products such as bonsai plants for sale, as well as ice cream, sushi, and Japanese-style street food. Performers included the San Diego Japanese Hula Club, the Southern California Koto Ensemble—a string musical group—and the San Diego Kendo Bu, which is a Japanese martial art that uses bamboo swords.
One highlight of the event were the seven different types of decorations, known as the nanatsu kazari. One, known as tanzaku, are paper strips in which guests write wishes. Another was the fukinagashi, which are streamers that represent fabric woven by Orihime, the star-crossed lover.
Guests of the Tanabata Festival in the Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden hang Tanzakus, wishes written on ribbons, from bamboo trees in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

Guests of the Tanabata Festival in the Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden hang Tanzakus, wishes written on ribbons, from bamboo trees in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

Guests of the Tanabata Festival at the Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden wear traditional Japanese kimono dresses in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

Guests of the Tanabata Festival at the Balboa Park Japanese Friendship Garden wear traditional Japanese kimono dresses in San Diego, Calif., on July 7, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

But the main event was in the evening, under the stars.
According to Chinese culture, Orihime lives in the star Vega, and Hikoboshi in the star Altair.
The story says the lovers were once hard diligent workers for the gods in Amanogawa, also called “Heaven’s River,” which is known today as the Milky Way.
The gods first brought the two together to find love, since they worked tirelessly with no time for romance. But the story says the two were ultimately separated on opposite sides of Heaven’s River after they spent too much time together and neglected their duties.
Because the two were so sad to be torn apart, the gods permitted them to see each other once a year if the skies were clear enough for them to cross Heaven’s River to meet.
The popular festival returns every year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the year.
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Julianne Foster

Julianne Foster

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