(CTS) Tanabata

21 Feb


Tanabata,also known as the “star festival”, takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet. It is a Japanese tradition wherein people write their wishes on tanzaku papers (colorful, small strips of papers) and hang them on bamboo branches. People also decorate bamboo branches with various kinds of paper decorations and place them outside their houses. The most common Tanabata decorations are colorful streamers. Streamers are said to symbolize the weaving of threads. Other tanabata decorations are toami (casting net), which means good luck for fishing and farming and kinchaku (hand bag), which means wealth.

Tanabata originated more than 2,000 years ago with an old Chinese tale called Kikkoden. Once there was a weaver princess named Orihime and a cow herder prince named Hikoboshi living in space. After they got together, they were playing all the time and forgot about their jobs. The king was angry at them and separated them on opposite sides of the Amanogawa River (Milky Way). The king allowed them to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. Tanabata literally means the night of the seventh, and it’s also known as the star festival. It’s believed that Orihime and Hikoboshi can’t see each other if the day is rainy, so people pray for good weather and also make wishes for themselves.

Depending on regions, Tanabata is celebrated on July 7th or August 7th (which is around the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar) in Japan. Many cities and towns hold Tanabata festivals and set Tanabata displays along the main streets. It’s fun to walk through the long streamers on the street. In some regions, people light lanterns and float them on the river, or float bamboo leaves on the river.

Tanabata festivals in Sendai-city, Miyagi Prefecture and Hiratsuka-city, Kanagawa Prefecture are particularly well-known. Huge Tanabata decorations fill the main streets in these cities and attract millions of visitors every year.

Source : gojapan.about.com
japan-guide.com

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