Tanabata – July 7th

Did you pay attention to stars last night? If not, you missed out on the most romantic night sky of the year.

July 7th in Japan is called Tanabata (七夕).  This is the one night that you can see the two beautiful and bright stars, Vega and Altair, with the Milky Way as a backdrop. This legend originated from China and spread to Japan in the early Nara era.

Can you find two bright starts across the Milky Way?
image 1
Can you find two bright starts across the Milky Way?

According to this legend, Orihime was the beautiful daughter of Tentai, the Sky King, and she dedicated every day to weave beautiful clothes for her father. As Tentai contemplated about his precious daughter’s future, he found a famous farmer in another village located on the other side of the Amanogawa River that be believed would be suitable as Orihime’s future husband. They fell in love with each other right after her father’s arrangement, but they stopped working hard like they used to as soon as they got married. After seeing the two of them slowly become less and less responsible, Tentai finally decided to separate them by putting them on opposite sides of the Amanogawa River and allowed them to meet only once a year on July 7th.

Amanogawa, is what the Japanese call the Milky Way and Orihime and Hikoboshi are represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively in this legend. According to the story, if it rains on this day, these two lovers have to wait another year before they can meet.

tanzaku
image 2
a girl hanging tanzaku on bamboo leaves.

In Japan, there are many local festivals to celebrate these lovers meeting once a year. Many schools also offer events for the students by giving them time to write down a wish on a piece of paper called Tanzaku and hang it on bamboo leaves in hopes that their wishes would come true.

Tanabata Festival
image 3
Tanabata Festival

You cannot help to look up other people’s wishes on bamboo leaves because there is a wide variety of wishes…from cute and funny to sad wishes:

image 4 "wish Orihime and Hicoboshi could meet tonight."
image 4
“wish Orihime and Hicoboshi could meet tonight.”
image 5 "please give me big boos."
image 5
“please give me big boos.”
image 6 "wish my dad would break up with that bad woman soon."
image 6
“wish my dad would break up with the bad woman soon.”

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Image Sources:

1. http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/pi_hyarara2003/15577320.html

2. http://www.city.daito.lg.jp/photonews/1279609153474.html

3. http://duarcain.blogspot.com/2012/05/tanzaku.html

4. http://blogs.yahoo.co.jp/aroamtic/9828772.html

5. http://plaza.rakuten.co.jp/2ndorijin/diary/200807060000/

6. http://ameblo.jp/shikao-blog/entry2-10587054166.html

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