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Celebrating Tanabata at Home!

Someone hanging tanzaku paper on bamboo in celebration of tanabata matsuri at the japanese friendship garden of phoenix.

This week, Japan celebrates Tanabata, its Star Festival, which has held a cherished place in the country's cultural traditions for centuries. Tanabata, observed on 7/7, signifies a delightful holiday that commemorates the timeless myth of Orihime and Hikkoboshi, two lovers who traverse the Milky Way to meet on this day.

To gain a complete understanding of the story of Tanabata and experience the ancient art of Japanese storytelling, we invite you to watch the attached video. Presented in kamishibai style, a traditional form of visual storytelling, this video appeals to families and classrooms alike, offering the perfect opportunity to immerse yourself in the magical world of Tanabata and enjoy the enchanting tale with your loved ones or students.

Let this Tanabata fill your days with fun, foster unity, and deepen your appreciation for Japan's rich cultural heritage.

Click on the video below to explore the myth of Tanabata, or continue reading for activities you can do at home:

In Japan, families celebrate Tanabata by writing wishes on tanzaku paper and hanging them on bamboo trees at shrines, throughout town, or even in their own homes, with the hope that these wishes will manifest into reality. These bamboo trees are adorned with numerous origami creations, each symbolizing significant elements of the tanabata myth.

To craft these origami at home on your own tree (or ours at the Garden!), we encourage you to explore some of the tutorials below. These origami tutorials are not only enjoyable to create but also carry heartfelt wishes for the well-being and happiness of your family. You can find additional tutorials and videos the following website:

Ring Chain

The colorful chain ring adorns many bamboo trees and is fun and easy for kids to construct.

tanabata craft origami ring chain from fumiaki shingu

Paper Crane

Thread groups of these cranes on strings and hang them to wish for peace.

tanabata craft origami crane from fumiaki shingu

Milky Way

This net is stretched on the bamboo tree to represent the milky way in the Tanabata myth.

tanabata craft origami milky way net from fumiaki shingu

Paper Lantern

This origami represents lanterns lighting up the night during Tanabata.

tanabata craft origami lantern from fumiaki shingu


These colorful yukata bring better sewing skills and represents Orihime, the weaving princess.

tanabata craft origami yukata kimono from fumiaki shingu

Star Ornament

This star ornament is adorable, and helps represent the stars in the Tanabata myth.

tanabata craft origami star chain craft from fumiaki shingu

Fishing Net

This fishing next is hung in hopes of bringing a good harvest of fish!

tanabata craft origami fishing net from fumiaki shingu

Additionally, you can watch some of our youtube videos below to see how some of these decorations are traditionally made, including paper string!

Click on the video below to watch a tutorial on how to craft Orihime, Hikoboshi, and the milky way:

Click on the video below to learn how to construct wish paper and traditional string:

As you craft your origami, be sure to sing Tanabata-sama, a traditional song of the star festival.

Click on the video below and sing along!

Here are the lyrics and their meaning:

ささのは さらさら Sasa no ha sara-sara

のきばに ゆれる Nokiba ni yureru

お星さま きらきら Ohoshi-sama kira-kira

きんぎん すなご Kingin sunago

ごしきの たんざく Goshiki no tanzaku

わたしが かいた watashi ga kaita

お星さま きらきら Ohoshi-sama kirakira

空から  見てる sora kara miteru

The bamboo leaves rustle,

And sway under the eaves.

The stars twinkle Like gold

and silver grains of sand.

The five-color paper strips

I have written them.

The stars twinkle,

Watching from above.

Be sure to come celebrate Tanabata at the Garden during the day to hang your tanzaku for a more tranquil experience, or in the evening during our festival next weekend!

Come and partake in all of the exciting festivities of this Summer holiday at the Garden, or share these tutorials, videos, and songs with family to celebrate Tanabata at home year after year.

tanabata craft tanzaku paper with wishes written on them hanging from bamboo at  the japanese friendship garden of phoenix.

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