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【Culture】“Tanabata” the Star Festival, a Heavenly Love Story2015.07.07

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One of the Japanese summer events is “Tanabata” also known as the “Star Festival.” The Tanabata is originated from the ancient and tragic Chinese tale, “Kikkoden.” The legend is over 2000 years old.

This star based love story of two heavenly workers is a great children’s bedtime story. “Orihime,” (the star Vega), a cloth weaver and “Hikoboshi,” (the star Altair), a cow herder. Orihime’s father felt that she was working too hard, so he introduced her to “Hikoboshi.” They quickly fell in love at the expense of their work. Their punishment was to be separated forever by the Milky Way Galaxy. After the separation, “Orihime,” weep daily,8 and the gods relented and allowed the lovers to meet once a year on the night of the 7th day of 7th month (July, 7th). “Tanabata” celebrating the lover’s reunion is a festive occasion. The festival has been passed down from generation to generation and has gained in popularity. During the festival, people write their wishes on colorful strips of paper called “tanzaku.” After writing their wishes, people hang their “tanzaku” on bamboo branches. Those that write “tanzaku” believe their wishes will come true.

Several places in Japan have famous “Tanabata” festivals. One is Sendai city in Miyagi prefecture, 1 hour from Tokyo by bullet train. “Sendai Tanabata” was started by Date Masamune who is the first lord of Sendai Domain. This world famous “Tanabata” event is held later than the traditional “Tanabata” July 7th date and is held on August 6th – 8th.

Attend a “Tanabata,” write your tanzaku and have experience and good luck.

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