The Okawa River, which runs through central Osaka, was lit up on Friday with 40,000 LED lights floating down the river as they evoked the celestial milky way. The surreal scene was part of a celebration of Tanabata, or the Star Festival, which is a major summer festival in Japan taking place on July 7th. It commemorates the story of two literal star-crossed lovers represented by the stars Vega and Altair who are only allowed to meet each other once a year on that night, as long as the skies are clear.
The event was organized by the Amanogawa Project, which has been staging similar events for over 10 years. But this year marked the first time in 4 years since covid restrictions were lifted and they were able to temporarily transform a river into the milky way.
The special LEDs, which were designed to light up upon contact with water, are powered by solar energy. After illuminating a large stretch of the river, the LEDs are all caught in a large net.