Monday, 7 July 2008


Tanabata, the Japanese Star Festival, is a story of truly star crossed lovers. The story, based on a Chinese tale, tells of Orihime (lit. "Weaving Princes", the daughter of the Sky King. She spent her days weaving beautiful cloth for her father. She grew lonely, however, and so her father arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (lit. "Cowherd Star"). The two fell in love and were married, but Hikoboshi came from the wrong side of the Milky Way, and distracted Orihime from her weaving. She in turn distracted him from his animals, and the cows ran rampant through the heavens. With no woven cloth and cows everywhere, the Sky King grew angry, forbidding his daughter from seeing her husband. Orihime was so upset, however, that she was unable to weave any cloth for her father, so he relented and allowed the young lovers to meet one night out of the year, the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar. With the Milky Way still separating the couple, they have to rely on a flock of magpies to form a bridge. If the night of the 7th is rainy the magpies cannot form a bridge and Orihime and Hikoboshi are kept apart for another year.

The festival is celebrated throughout the country on July 7th, but is especially big in Sendai, in northern Japan, where it is celebrated on August 7th. Celebrations differ from place to place, but the most common/basic is to display greenery such as bamboo branches and hang them with colourful streamers and papers with wishes for the coming year.

I went to the local public bath today and, because I'm rather nosey, I read some of the wishes people had written on the paper provided and hung on the branches. The first wish that I saw read:

(I want friends who are humans)

"Wow that's depressingly sad!" I thought to myself, and looked for another one.

(I hope to be able to have sex again after three years with none)

"Wha the?! Ummm, this is a family location!" I thought to myself, and looked again, picking one in a child's handwriting.

(I hope that everybody in my family smiles)

Now that's more the usual type!

My wish if I were to write one?
(I hope again this year to be able to work towards realizing my dreams)

What about you?

1 comment:

  1. Valentine's Day in Taiwan is on July 7th, based on the tale. I didn't know Japaneses celebrate it as well.