Tanabata Festival – Japanese Folklore
Star light, star bright…. Make a wish on July 7th in Japan and it might just come true! For this is the day that everyone celebrates Tanabata (Star Festival) by writing their wish on a strip of colored paper and hanging from a piece of bamboo. Most people choose to make personal wishes; landing their dream job, getting a good grade at school or facing their fears. Although the wish options are endless, there is only one wish allowed per person, so choose wisely…
Today Tanabata is thought of as a day of dreams and wishes, but when we take a closer look at the history we uncover a unique legend of love. Long ago, there was a Japanese Shinto practice where-by a specially selected maiden would weave a kimono to honor and welcome God for the upcoming autumn harvest. The kimono would be presented to the God on a tana (shelf). The loom that the maiden used was also called tanabata and is now the name given to the 7th of July where we welcome the God.
The story of the Tanabata star legend originates from the Chinese legend of Qixi, a folk story about the forbidden love story between two stars; Orihime (Vega), a hard working seamstress and Hikoboshi (Altair), a cow herder living on the other side of the river (Milky Way). The legend has it that the two were arranged to meet by Orihime’s father because he was worried about his daughter always working. They fell in love instantly and got married. They were so in love in fact that they met every day which prevented them from going back to work. Orihime’s father, a powerful God was angered by the situation. He forbade the lovers to be together, except for once a year on July 7th.
On the first day they were to be reunited, the river overflowed making it almost impossible for the two lovers to cross. Just when Orihime was at the brink of losing all hope, a flock of magpies appeared making a bridge for Orihime to cross and meet Hikoboshi (but only that once). Today, the legend says that if it rains on the day of Tanabata, the magpies will not come and the two will have to wait another year to meet.
Whether you enjoy the romance or are in need of a wish to come true, there are several great places to celebrate Tanabata in Osaka! Here are some of our top recommendations:
Heisei Osaka Amanogawa Densetsu 2016
WHERE : Ookawa/Tenmabashi – Kitahama area
WHEN : July 7, 2016
Entry : 6pm, River Illumination 7pm – 9pm
Admission : Free
Twinkling star illumination (river) ADV. ￥1,200/Date of Event ￥1,500
Tanabata no Yuube in Shitennoji
WHERE : 〒543-0051 1-11-18 , Shitennoji, Tennoji-ku, Osaka
WHEN : July 6, 2016 – July 8, 2016
Entry : Bamboo Tunnel illumination starts from 7pm – 12am (8pm on the last day)
Candle lighting starts from 5pm – 9pm
Admission : Free
For charity: Candle ￥100, Wishing Tanzaku ￥100, Kumamon Character Tanzaku ￥200