Wednesday, July 08, 2009

July 7th Tanabata

On July 4th we celebrate Tanabata. Tanabata( the Star Festival) is held on the evening of July 7. Its origins belongs to an old Chinese legend that the Cowherd Star (Altair) and Weaver Star (Vega) lovers were separated by the Milky Way and they are allowed to meet just once a year - on the seventh day of the seventh month. (in some other area, they have it in August)
The legend goes as follows:
A long time ago, TEN-KOU, the god of the sky, had a daughter called ORIHIME. Everyday she wove cloth for the Gods with a special machine called TANABATA.
TEN-KOU was worried because his daughter worked every day and did nothing but weave. So he introduced her to a guy on the other side of the river named Milky Way. His name was HIKOBOSHI. He took care of cows. When they met each other, they fell in love immediately, and spent all their time together. As a result, all the cows became sick and the gods' clothes became worn out, but there was no new cloth to make more.
This made TEN-KOU very angry and he stopped ORIHIME from meeting HIKOBOSHI anymore by taking her to the other side of Milky Way. This made the two lovers so sad that they couldn't work. TEN-KOU also felt sorry, so he decided to let them meet each other once a year on July 7th if they worked hard. Now, they work as hard as before and look forward to seeing each other only once a year.

Traditionally, people wished the sky would be clear on that day so the two could meet over the Milky Way. If it rained that day, the water level of the river Milkey Way got too high and could not be crossed. Eventually they have to wait for another one more year. Isn't it sad but romantic!
Though the legend was brought to Japan from China, at first it became a popular event among Imperial court people presenting one another his poem and then it was gradually modified and widely celebrated hundreds years ago among local people in various areas as the present style we celebrate Tanabata in Japan.

Today at many shopping malls and department stores, they prepare big bamboo trees and colorful papers for Tanabata Day.
Children and adults write their own wishes on narrow strips of colored paper and hang them along with other paper ornaments on bamboo branches. We place in the backyards or entrances of their homes wishing that our dreams and wishes come true.
( on the children's floor at the department store )
In advance before Tanabata, kids at kindergartens make their own Tanabata decorations and bring them back home. At this time of the season, just before going into the summer vacations, many kindergartens have the parents day and we come home together along with each Tanabata bamboo decoration.
Yes, as you see the date on the photo above, these two pictures are ones of my two children. I just can't believe that they once were sooooo cute. My son in the pictures was 5 and my daughter was 3 . She was so happy to visit her brother at his kindergarten. Long time ago-----yet sweet memories.

7 comments:

Jeany said...

Hi Mekkan, I love your pictures, this is really Japan for me, so beautiful, and that story, it is a bit like Romeo and Juliet. Don’t you love these kinds off day’s, than we think look through the eyes off a child, we need to do that more, perhaps we had more fun in live? Thank you for bringing us a bit off your world to us. And off course I write in English, because I know you visit me, and I want you to understand what I’m writing. ;)) A big hug to you, Jeany

Kotori said...

Those trees are gorgeous... I always love looking at your images of Japan. It makes me feel like I've made a quick trip to visit you! And that last image is too cute for words!

Dionne said...

I agree with Jeany, they sound like Romeo and Juliet - star-crossed lovers. How sad but enchanting. I love how your whole country celebrates this.

And your little children look so cute all dressed up for this day.

Anya said...

BEAUTIFUL :)
So colorful and lovely shot !!

Little Miss Tiara said...

Ahaha... I love those pictures of your children, they were so cute :D and the story is so beautiful, I read a lot about Tanabata in my friends' comic book :P it's so interesting to celebrate by putting your wishes in a bamboo tree.

ps: I think I've fixed my google reader pic, I don't know what was happened but yeah, I lost my pic because it switched from blogger profile to google profile :/

LENORENEVERMORE said...

Your children were so adorable, I'm sure they are all grown up & still adorable! Love how you share this tradition with us... I learn something new! Great weekend dear... XO*

Pamela said...

I love the pictures of your children...so cute!