Resident Blog

Tanabata Festival!

July 7th (or August 7th in some areas) is the Tanabata, or star festival, in Japan. "Tanabata" is written with two kanji characters "" and "". "People write their wishes on tanzaku (colorful small strips of papers) and hang them on bamboo treesalong with other decorations. The most common tanabata decorations are the streamers that are usually made with variously colored origami. The bamboo branches with colorful decorations are quite pretty and look like a summer Christmas tree. And so it was, I walked into the sharehouse a few weeks ago and found a wonderfully decorated tree that immediately peaked my interest and inspired a couple of minutes of photo taking.


The Tanabata story was inspired by a famous Chinese legend. It also includes elements of local Japanese beliefs. The Tanabata story is associated with the stars, Altair (the Cowherd Star) and Vega(the Weaver Star). Orihime represents Vega and Hikoboshi represents Altair. Orihime and Hikoboshi fell so much in love that they could not focus on their work. The heavenly Gods got angry and separated Orihime and Hikoboshi by placing them on opposite sides of the Milky Way. However, the Gods felt sorry for them and allow them to meet once a year on July 7th. On this day many people pray for good weather because if it rains Orihime and Hikoboshi will not be able to meet up due to rising water levels of the Milky Way.  Tanabata is also said to be a special day for lovers because it’s a day when they reunite. Decorations on a bamboo tree are used to celebrate the reunion of Orihime and Hikoboshi.


I found this to be an interesting myth and was happy to engage, writing my own wish within two minutes and attaching it to the tree at the same speed. This custom is very popular, whether it be to wish good things for the star-separated lovers or to bring some good luck your own way. I’ve happened across a few tanzuku laden bamboo trees in many public places since discovering one at our sharehouse.  It’s a wondrous sight. The beauty of it is not only the brightly coloured, square,  faux-leaves nestled among the natural green of the bamboo tree but also the positive spirit and energy enveloping the tree - wishes and dreams placed there by a hopeful hand and a smiling face. Sadly, our tree at Oakhouse was put to shame as the commercial trees received a lot more attention than our domestic one. Look at this one next to Starbucks. Oh well, I did my part and I’m happy.


Good luck to Orihime and Hikoboshi (and all other couples that wish to reunite)!

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Hair Monster

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I'm like a chihuahua. Small but fierce and full of energy. I'm generally a positive person and try to make the best of each day.

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