Posted July 7th, 2009 in Japan, Ume's Interests No Comments »

Today is 07 July… it’s Tanabata in Japan!  Tanabata is Japanese star festival, takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet.  

Tanabata story is very romantic.  According to those separated stars, the story is about two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, are allowed to meet only once a year on this day.  The river separates these lovers is Milky Way, called “Amano-gawa” in Japan.  Amano-gawa means “river in Heaven”.  

Here is the story ..

Orihime (織姫 Weaving Princess), daughter of the Tentei (天帝 Sky King, or the universe itself), wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the Amanogawa (天の川Milky Way, lit. “heavenly river). Her father loved the cloth that she wove and so she worked very hard every day to weave it. However, Orihime was sad that because of her hard work she could never meet and fall in love with anyone. Concerned about his daughter, Tentei arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (彦星 Cow Herder Starwho lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa. When the two met, they fell instantly in love with each other and married shortly thereafter. However, once married, Orihime no longer would weave cloth for Tentei and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven. In anger, Tentei separated the two lovers across the Amanogawa and forbade them to meet. Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again. Tentei was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if Orihime worked hard and finished her weaving. The first time they tried to meet, however, they found that they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river. It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet. (wikipedia)

In Japanese custom, we celebrate this day by writing wishes on Tanzaku (small pieces of paper) and hung them on bamboo tree.  With Tanzaku and other decoration, the bamboo is set afloat on a river in the night time.  

Many areas in Japan have their own Tanabata customs, but this is what I did when I was a child.  Besides, there is a river named “Amano-gawa” near my house and this is the place my family and I set the bamboo tree afloat every year on this day.

Now, still, I write a wish on Tanzaku and hung on a tree in the garden although we don’t set the tree afloat in a river.  Just keeping up one of Japanese custom here :p

Some photos from Japan ↓↓↓


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