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
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
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!
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.
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...
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.
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.