Tanabata decorations at Oguhachiman Shrine in Arakawa Ward, Tokyo. Tanabata, or the star festival, is observed on July 7. As the date approaches, children (and adults, too!) write their wishes on long, narrow strips of colorful paper known as tanzaku, which are hung up with other ornaments from bamboo branches in front of homes and public places. Based on the ancient Chinese lunar calendar, the festival marks the once-yearly meeting of Orihime (Vega), the weaver star and patron of silk farming, and Hikoboshi (Altair), the cowherd star and agricultural messenger. The legend is that these stars were punished by the emperor of heaven for neglecting their duties and banished to separate parts of the Milky Way. They are allowed to meet once a year on July 7th, only even they diligently perform their duties all year long. Photo by Scott Kouchi for Real Estate Japan.