Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy (belated) Tanabata!

I just learned about this, but yesterday was "Tanabata" (star festival) in Japan. I tend to not realize there's a holiday if I don't get time off of work. But anyway, here's the story of Tanabata:

Orihime (Weaving Princess), daughter of the Tentei (Sky King, or the universe itself), wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the Amanogawa ( 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 ( Cow Herder Star) (also referred to as Kengyuu) ) 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 Orihime 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.

On this day, people (mostly young children) write wishes on pieces of paper. They take the wishes and attach them to bamboo. It is said that when the two lovers meet, your wish will be granted.

I was told that they have a bigger festival for this next month. I'm not sure why, but at least I have another chance to make a wish!


No comments: