-･- From My Everyday Life to Japanese Culture -･- Why don't you see the real Japan, not the typical foreigners' version.
The bamboo branches decorated with streamers and strips of paper are “Tanabata festival (七夕, Star Festival)” decoration in my office. It’s a little unglamorous.
July 7th of the lunar calendar is the day of Tanabata. In general, we celebrate the season festival based on the new calendar, while it’s held on August 7th after the rainy season in many cities in the northern area of Japan.
The origin of the festival is considered old-time Chinese tradition in which women prayed that they would improve handicraft skills. The tradition was based on the legend, like Greek mythology.
‘There was a girl (Vega, Lyra) who was good at weaving. After she married a cowherd (Altair, Aquila), she neglected her weaving, so the god put the Milky Way between them. The only chance they have to see each other is on the night of July 7th’.
The tradition was introduced into Japan in the 8th century and was incorporated into Obon (お盆), Japanese Buddhist festival to recognize ancestral spirits. It became popular among ordinary people in the Edo Period (1603-1868).
On the day, people write their wishes on strips of paper and hang them from bamboo branches. When I was a child, I loved to decorate bamboo branches, but I forgot what I wished.
Yesterday, I read the strips young staffs wrote.
I introduce their nonsense wishes.
‘I want a muscular body.'
Ok. Get in shape by yourself. Kinakinw
‘I want to live in a room decorated with good taste.’
I see. Go to IKEA. Kinakinw
‘I want to be taller.’
Sorry. It’s too late. Kinakinw
Hiroshige (1797-1858), a famous ukiyoe artist, depicted the festival.
Tanabata festival in Sendai City 2009 / sendaiblog
Many shopping streets adopt the festival as an effective event for drawing spectators.