Once upon a time in the Kingdom of the Heavens, there lived a beautiful princess named Orihime. Princess Orihime was not only outwardly lovely, but her heart was full of every virtue, especially filial piety. She strived to please her father, the Sky King, in everything. The Sky King especially prized his daughter’s weaving which could be made into the finest garments in the kingdom. Every day, the princess took her loom to the bank of the Heavenly River and wove her cloth next to the gentle current of its milky white waters.
As time passed, however, Princess Orihime began to grow downcast. Although she still took great pleasure in weaving for her father, the princess realized that her unceasing diligent work would keep her from falling in love and one day marrying. The Sky King became concerned about his daughter’s melancholy demeanor, and so arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi, the shepherd star who dwelt on the other side of the Heavenly River.
When Princess Orihime and Hikoboshi met, they instantly fell in love and married shortly thereafter. The two lovers were so enamored with each other that the princess gradually forgot her weaving and Hikoboshi neglected his shepherding duties, letting his stars stray all over the galaxy. The Sky King grew jealous for Princess Orihime and angry at Hikoboshi. The king forbade the lovers to see each other ever again and ordered that they be separated across the Heavenly River.
Severed from her husband, Orihime became disconsolate and tearfully begged her father to reunite her with Hikoboshi. The Sky King was moved to pity and leniency by his daughter’s miserable condition. He decreed that if the princess was loyal to her filial duty and continued her weaving, the kingdom’s magpies would carry her across the Heavenly River once a year, on the seventh day of the seventh month, so that the lovers could meet.
Every year on July 7, the Japanese celebrate the day Orihime (the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (the star Altair) reunite across the Milky Way with the Tanabata Festival.