Tanabata is celebrated on July 7th in Japan. Celebrate with your family! Buy a branch of bamboo, some cute origami paper, and write and tie wishes to decorate. Learn, go and make Tanabata! Remember July 7th.
Learn about Tanabata
The History – (content edited version of Wikipedia)
Tanabata (七夕, meaning “Evening of the seventh”), also known as the Star Festival, is a Japanese festival originating from the Chinese Qixi Festival. It celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.
The festival was imported to Japan by the Empress Kōken in 755. It originated from “The Festival to Plead for Skills” (乞巧奠 Kikkōden), an alternative name for Qixi, which was celebrated in China and also was adopted in the Kyoto Imperial Palace from the Heian period.
The festival gained widespread popularity amongst the general public by the early Edo period, when it became mixed with various Obon Bon traditions (because Bon was held on 15th of the seventh month then). In Edo period girls wished for better sewing and craftsmanship, and boys wished for better handwriting by writing wishes on strips of paper.
In present-day Japan, people generally celebrate this day by writing wishes, sometimes in the form of poetry, on tanzaku (短冊 tanzaku), small pieces of paper, and hanging them on bamboo, sometimes with other decorations. There is also a traditional Tanabata song which you can hear on youtube.
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 Star) who 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 she 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.
Great books to enjoy with your children in Japanese available on Amazon Japan.
Cools creations to inspire your creativity this Tanabata
Fun jello and fruit from Mai’s Smile Kitchen.
Living in or visiting Japan with Kids? Here are our favorite holidays and celebrations you should know about in Japan!
January – Coming of Age Day – Celebration of Adulthood for people becoming 18-20.
February – Setsubun – Devil Day
May – Boys Day or Kids Day
July – Tanabata
August – Obon
October – Sports Day
October/November – 7-5-3
December –New Years Celebration
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