all photos by Noriake Sato courtesy Sankei News

This weekend is Tanabata (七夕, meaning “Evening of the seventh”), a Japanese festival celebrating the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. To celebrate, 3700 candles have been placed in front of Tokyo’s Zojoji Temple, curving their way to Tokyo Tower and creating an illusion of twinkling stars reaching up to the sky.

The installation, known as Washi Candle Night, is on display for two nights only: July 6 -7. The candles are wrapped in traditional washi paper and are lit between 6PM – 9PM, weather permitting.

Washi Candle Night is being staged by the Nippon Daisuki Project, an initiative led by Sadayuki Murayama, a professor of information management at Tama University. The group seeks to promote an understanding of Japan and Japanese culture by staging public installations and exhibitions.

in addition to the 3700 candles, another 2200 candles with pictures and prayers drawn by children affected by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami will also be on display