Tanabata: that wonderful Japanese summer holiday I can never get into.

Today, July 7 is “Tanabata”, a holiday meant for young romance. It’s based on a Japanese Romeo and Juliet story, and I’ll let you read the wiki easily if you want to know more.

The thing that has always impressed me is that the lovers are represented by the summer stars Vega and Altair, which appear to us to be on opposite sides of the Milky Way.

Had our solar system not been something like 80% inclined relative to the rest of the Milky Way, I don’t think it would have looked like a river to the ancient storytellers, and the idea that two stars leave their respective places in the heavens once a year would have had the same tug at the heart.

In China, there is also a tanbata festival, but it’s celebrated in August because of the Chinese calendar.

The young people are the only ones who seem to have the excitement and energy around this place sometimes, so it’s always nice to pass by a group who seems to be really “into” Tanabata on the day. They are kind of like the stars coming together to shine a little light on what otherwise can be a gray, muggy and humid city in early July . . .