The Tanabata Festival is on at the Arts Village tomorrow and organisers are looking forward to the usual strong support from locals.

The day of events is being organised by Paul and Hiroe Howell who aim to bring opportunities for cross-cultural celebration to the city.

"I lived in Japan for 16 years and am married to a Japanese woman, and we are trying to introduce a little bit of Japanese culture to Kiwis," said Mr Howell.

Tanabata is known as the Star Festival in Japan and is based around the story of two star-crossed lovers.


It is based on the legend of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Alter) who ignored their celestial duties, and as a result were separated to the east and west of the Milky Way by Orihime's father, the emperor. "Seeing how lonely they were, they only allowed them to meet once a year on July 7," said Mrs Howell.

Last year's festival attracted more than 150 people to take part in Tanabata.

"It is an event for the whole community, giving people the chance to learn something about Japanese folk culture."

Tanabata activities include wish writing, a star quiz, food service, storytelling, Tanabata song, a taiko drumming performance by Kiwi Racco, and a shino bue performance.

"This is a one-of-a-kind event in Rotorua which brings together so many different people in the spirit of friendship and celebration. It is one of the most beloved events at the centre," said Arts Village manager Mary-Beth Acres.

At a glance:

* What: Tanabata Festival

* Where: The Arts Village

* When: Tomorrow 2pm-4.30pm