One Hundred Famous Views of Famous Places in Edo, The City Flourishing, the Tanabata Festival (Meisho Edo Hyakkei Shichū Hanei Tanabata Matsuri)
Painted by Utagawa Hiroshige I 1854-1860 (During the Ansei Period) Tokyo Shiryō Collection 07711-C7

This is a work dealing with the Tanabata festival on July 7. The sight of bamboo branches with various decorations lined up high on house roofs and swaying in the wind is a far cry from the small-scale Tanabata festivals seen in Tokyo today.

In the city of Edo during the Edo period, from just before the sunrise on the seventh day of the the seventh month of the lunar calendar, there was a tradition to erect Tanabata Star Festival bamboo on the roofs of houses. Because of this, as the Star Festival approached the streets echoed with the voices of bamboo sellers. Other than prayer cards, a number of items decorated the bamboo and the types of decorations would vary from house to house, neighborhood to neighborhood.
As shown in this picture, the many decorations of bottle gourds, watermelons and account books were thrown out on the evening of the seventh and floated away on the rivers and sea. This was an event that only took place on one day in Edo.
This was also the day in which 'Suzuri-arai' was carried out by children wishing to improve their writing skill and this was associated with the event in Kitano Shrine dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, the god of learning.