Well, I would like to wish a happy Tanabata day to all the people of Japanese and Chinese descent, and lovers of Asian culture. The Tanabata festival is also know as the Star Lovers festival, the Star Weaver festival, or the Star festival. This Japanese festival owes it’s roots to the Chinese legend of the meeting of the stars Vega and Altair, and this festival is celebrated on the 7th day of the 7th month, this day can vary according to which calendar (lunar or Gregorian) the city, town or village follows.
The Tanabata festival has always been one of my favorite Asian festivals, I once had the pleasure of actually being in Japan for the Tanabata festival in 1987, and what an enjoyable sight it was, I only wished that at the time I was more interested in taking some pictures rather than chasing some tail, oh well, to be young again.
There are many versions of the Tanabata legend and below I will write a small summary of my favorite version of the story.
The god of Firmament who lived in the High Plain of Heaven had a very beautiful daughter named Tanabata, and it was her duty to spend her time weaving garments for her father. One day while at her loom she spied a handsome lad named Hikoboshi leading an ox, and she at once fell in love with the lad. Her father knowing his daughter’s thoughts immediately consented to her marriage.
But, they loved well but not wisely, Tanabata neglected her weaving duties to her father, and Hikoboshi let is oxen wander unattended across the High Plain of Heaven, greatly angering the God of Firmament. He commanded that the lover be separated from one another by the Celestial River.
The separated lovers’ grief was so great that soon the God of Firmament consented to allow the lovers to meet one night a year to sooth their loneliness. So on the seventh night of the seventh month the lovers come to the banks of the Celestial River and wait for a company of Magpies to form a bridge so the lover can finally be together. It is said that if the weather is good and the Star Lovers meet that one can look up into the night sky and see the stars Vega (Tanabata) and Altair (Hikoboshi) shine with the colors blue, green, red, yellow, and white.
Now this only happens if the weather is good, if there is rain then the Celestial River might become too wide for even the Magpies to span, and then the weary lovers will have to wait another year to meet. In times past, young children would sing “oh, weather, be clear” before the Weaving festival.
Now, Tanabata is celebrated by people placing fresh cut bamboos on the roofs of their houses or placing them in the ground next to their houses. They attach strips of colored paper containing poems or praises to the lovers to the bamboos, these strips of paper also contain wishes for good crop harvests, good grades, good health, good wealth, and even romance.
On the night of Tanabata, Japanese people can go out in casual clothing or in more traditional clothing such as Yukatas. While each town celebrates the festival differently, the most common events are goldfish scooping, karaoke singing, sumo contests, food booths, fireworks, and boat rides if near water.
Below are some anime related pictures.