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Tanabata Tree

Tanabata Tree
Messiness: Low
Age Range: 3y - 9y
Estimated Time: <1 hour

Activity Designer

Akane Everitt
17 Projects

Tanabata is a Japanese holiday that is celebrated between July and August around different parts of Japan.

This holiday is based on a story about the stars Vega and Altair, which are closest to each other on the 7th day of the 7th month of the lunar calendar:

A long time ago, there lived a beautiful princess named Orihime (Vega). She weaved very beautiful cloth and worked very hard, so hard that she couldn't meet anyone to fall in love with. Her father felt sorry for her, so he introduced her to Hikoboshi (Altair, also known as Kengyu), a cow herdsman who lived on the other side of the Amanogawa River (known as the Milky Way). It was love at first sight, and the two spent so much time together that they neglected their responsibilities. Orihime's father, Tenkou, the god of the sky, became so angry that he took Orihime back across the Amanogawa River. This made the two lovers very sad, and so Tenkou decided that he would allow them to meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month. However if it is raining on that day, the river (Milky Way) is too flooded to cross, so Orihime and Hikoboshi must wait another year to meet.

How We Did It

Tanabata Tree

To celebrate Tanabata, people write their wishes on paper (tanzaku) and hang them from bamboo branches along with other decorations. It can be really beautiful!

Tanabata Tree

My son made a simple ring chain. He cut out strips of colored paper, added glue to the end of each strip, and linked the paper strips together.

My daughter, meanwhile, made a paper lantern.

Tanabata Tree

Next, we cut the origami paper into rectangular strips. These are called tanzaku and people use them to write their wishes. 

Among other wishes, my son wrote, "I wish my life would last forever." My daughter, on the other hand, wished for a new camera...

Tanabata Tree

After you are done writing your wishes (one wish per tanzaku), punch a hole at the top, cut a long piece of string, and pull it through the hole of the tanzaku. Tie a knot at one end, and then hang it on the tree.

Tanabata Tree

When there is a summer festival in Japan, girls and women dress up in yukatas (light cotton kimonos). I don't have a yukata for my daughter, so I dressed her up in a beautiful kimono that belonged to her grandmother (my mother) when she was a child.


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