The Tanabata festival is an annual event that started around the year 700. Legend has it that two lovers (stars), "Hikoboshi" and "Orihime", are separated by the milky way and are only able to meet once a year. The exact date used varies depending on the region.
Constructed in 593, Shitennoji is Japan's oldest Buddhist temple. To celebrate Tanabata, a tunnel made from bamboo was constructed with LED lights representing the milky-way.
This year, Kyoto chose to hold their event on the same day as the famous Sendai Tanabata to show solidarity with those still struggling with the effects of the earthquake earlier this year.
Like the Shitenno-ji festival, Kyoto also had an LED milky-way and festival goers could release glowing LED "Inori boshi" (prayer stars) containing messages of support for Tohoku. I wonder what this festival was like before LEDs?
Entrance to Nijo-castle.