An epic appearance of the Milky Way in Osaka!!
A guide to a magical night on Tanabata, July 7.
Tanabata, aka the Star Festival, is one of the traditional seasonal festivals of Japan, celebrated with various events throughout the country around July 7 each year.
One such event, “Osaka Legend of the Milky Way” in its 9th year is becoming a new summer tradition in Osaka.
This year, as it marks the first year of Reiwa, the event will be built up more than previous years in celebration of the new emperor, and will be called the “Reiwa Osaka Legend of the Milky Way 2019.”
Story of Tanabata
Do you know the mythical tale of Tanabata? Various versions exist, but here’s one of them.
Orihime (Vega), daughter of the King of the universe who lives near the Milky Way, falls in love with a cattle herder named Hikoboshi (Altair).
The two fall so deeply in love that they both neglect their work after they are married.
This angers the King who decides to separate the two lovers by forcing them to live on opposite sides of the Milky Way. But, seeing how sad and remorseful the two are, the King in the end decides to allow them to meet once a year.
I think it’s interesting how this type of brief love stories, like Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, seem to be a common theme throughout the world.
The Okawa River
On July 7, the Okawa river, which runs through the middle of Osaka, will transform into the Milky Way, the stage for the lovers’ reunion.
Today, the Okawa river snakes through a sea of offices and restaurants, but back when there was no street lights around it, it used to reflect the star-filled sky on its surface and was said to be the “Earth’s Milky Way.”
And now, using the latest technology, the Earth’s Milky Way will be miraculously brought back to life!
Shortly after 7pm on the 7th, the Okawa river will be filled with blue lights between Tenmabashi and Tenjinbashi area.
Named Inori-boshi® (“prayer stars”), these LED lights glowing in blue are small spheres 8.5cm in diameter.
While 50,000 LED lights lit up the Okawa river last time, the number will increase to 70,000 LED lights this year to commemorate the new era.
I guarantee it will create a spectacular Milky Way.
The event was canceled due to typhoon last year, but I was able to attend the event two years ago. With a launch ticket, I released my Inori-boshi®, filled with my wish, into the Okawa river. The Inori-boshi® rolls down a bamboo into the river. I like the idea of using the bamboo—pretty romantic, isn’t it?
It was fun just to watch, but I really enjoyed launching my own Inori-boshi®.
No worries. These Inori-boshi® are environmentally friendly. After the event, they will be collected and re-used in the following year. They are even equipped with rechargeable batteries and solar panels!
With such a large event site, you can enjoy the beautiful view from rooftops as well as on board a boat.
And if you feel like getting out for the entire day, combine your visit to this event with a stop at the Osaka Tanabata Bar!
Here’s a view of the Milky Way from last time.
I promise it is a magnificent scene, as if you’ve wandered off into a fantasy world.
Enjoy this spectacle of city, water, people, and light. This can happen only in a place like Osaka.
July 7 (Sun)
Doors open at 18:00 (6pm) Lunching time: 19:20 (7:20pm) – 21:00 (9pm)
[Location] Okawa river, Temmabashi and Kitahama area
[Getting There] About 2 mins walk from Exit 2 at Temmabashi Station.
*If it is rainy day, the event will be postponed to August 7th (Wed) in the cases of severe weather or unexpected disaster, or canceled if it can be held on either day.