G8 leaders to wish upon a bamboo tree at summit

Wed Jul 2, 2008 9:09pm EDT

TOKYO, July 3 (Reuters) - World leaders converging in Japan for the Group of Eight summit won't wish upon a star, but instead post their hopes on a bamboo tree.

When the rich nations' leaders arrive in Hokkaido, northern Japan, to discuss problems such as soaring fuel and food prices, global warming and nuclear proliferation, they will be asked to each write a wish on a piece of paper and tie it to a bamboo tree to make it come true.

The ritual is part of Japan's traditional summer "Tanabata" holiday, which is based on a popular myth of two star-crossed lovers who meet on the milky way once a year, on July 7. The holiday coincides with the summit, which takes place from July 7-9.

Besides Tanabata celebrations, more than 70,000 Japanese shops, offices and tourist attractions such as Tokyo Tower will take part in a "lights off" campaign to save energy on Monday evening.

"The G8 summit will take place on Tanabata, so we are working towards turning off the lights, and gazing at the milky way while re-affirming the importance of the environment," said Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda in a speech last month. (Reporting by Mari Saito, Editing by Sophie Hardach)