July 3, 2019

What do you wish upon a star? The Tanabata Story

Tanabata, the “Star Festival” is a beautiful and romantic seasonal event in Japan celebrating love and dreams which takes place on the seventh day of the seventh month.

Tanabata is originated in Chinese folklore about the love between two deities, Orihime, a beautiful weaver, and a handsome cattle herder Hikoboshi. They were absorbed in love for each other so much that Orihime neglected her work of weaving clothes and Hikoboshi abandoned his cattle. As a result, people’s clothes became tattered and illness spread over cows. Orihime’s father, the god of the heavens enraged over them. In punishment, he separated the lovers to opposite sides of the Milky Way and declared that they were allowed to meet only once a year: on the seventh day of the seventh month.  

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To honor the romance of two lovers, at the approach of July 7th, people write their wishes on colorful rectangle strips and hang them on bamboo branches to decorate their homes and schools. There will be Tanabata festivals held across Japan on July 7th or in the seventh month in the lunisolar calendar which is usually in early August.

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I celebrate this day by writing my wish on a small piece of Washi paper and hanging it on a tree in the garden.  

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In the U.S., many of the major cities and their Japanese communities hold Tanabata festivals. Here is information for some of them. Happy Tanabata for all!

Los Angeles, CA
https://www.tanabatalosangeles.org/

San Francisco, CA
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/tanabata-tea-ceremony-japanese-traditional-dance-buyo-tickets-61260772620

Portland, OR
https://japanesegarden.org/events/tanabata-the-star-festival/

Chicago, IL
https://japaneseculturecenter.com/event/tanabata-festival/

Houston, TX
https://www.cmhouston.org/event/tanabata-festival-childrens-museum-houston

New York, NY
http://www.japanculture-nyc.com/amateur-astronomers-association-of-new-yorks-tanabata-festival/

You can also google “Tanabata” following your city name to see if there are any Tanabata festivals in your area.

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