Star Festival - Tanabata (七夕)

Star Festival - Tanabata (七夕)

Tanabata a.k.a. Star Festival is coming up next week, July 7th.
Tanabata (七夕) originally came from China a long time ago, and now it is one of romantic Japanese cultures.

Tanabata

There are variety of legends regarding tanabata, but today I’d like to introduce you the one I’ve known since I was a little kid.

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Once upon a time, there lived a beautiful girl named Orihime and a conscientious boy named
HikoboshiOrihime was a weaver, and her father was the King of the sky.
Hikoboshi was a cattle herder. 
One day, Orihime and Hikoboshi met each other and fell in love at first sight. 
They were so madly in love with each other that they forgot about their jobs and didn’t work at all. 
The King got angry at them, and separated them by the river. 
Orihimeand Hikoboshi were so sad that they cannot see anymore, and reflected upon themselves and started working hard again.
Then the King allowed them to meet only once a year at the bridge over the river.

orihime and hikoboshi

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Sad… And what makes it more sad is that if it rains on the day, the river causes flood and the two can’t meet until next year (T_T)
But it's a romantic love story.

tanabata literally means 7th evening. 
As it is said “evening”, the legend above is related to the night sky. 
Do you remember Summer triangle?
It includes Vaga, Deneb, and Altair.
And in that huge triangle, you see Milky Way, right?

milky way

Actually in Japan, Vega is known asOrihime, Altair is known as Hikoboshi, and Milky Way is known as the river between those two. 
So on tanabata, people wish it will be sunny to see Milky Way while wishing that Orihime and Hikoboshi can meet up on the bridge. 
This comes to the tradition that Japanese people wish upon a star on tanabata.

For tanabata, people decorate bamboo with paper crafts.
Those paper crafts usually have 5 colors; blue, red, white, yellow and black.
Each color has different meanings, blue is trees, red is fire, white is money, yellow is soil, and black is water.
These 5 are source for everything that people respect and cherish.

colorful papaer dec

Also they write their wishes on paper strips called tanzaku and hang it on bamboo.
Bamboo is regarded as a spiritual plant and life force in Japan.
Since bamboo grows straight up to the sky, hanging
tanzaku means that the bamboo carries your wishes to the sky.

ting tanzaku

May your wishes come true on tanabata!

 

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