When we first received program inquiry from the library for July 7th, I thought it’d be the perfect day for Tanabata Festival as it is the very date Japanese are celebrating the summer festival. So what is Tanabata anyway?
Commonly, it is the day you’d find festival many places in Japan, with tall bamboo trees with lots of ornaments hanging, usually made of colorful papers and/or Tanzaku-paper, a long square strip of paper with prayers written on it. We also know it is close to the day eating a bowl of eel-don (Teriyaki eel on top of steamed white rice), “Doyo-no-Ushi-no-Hi”. But, traditionally in old days, it was the day Japanese people celebrated and prayed for good weather = rich (rice) crops in the fall. It also came with an ancient love story of Orihime, a weaving princess, who was representing a star “Vega” and Hikoboshi, a cow herd, as “Altair” star located either side of milky ways as they were separated by the Orihime’s father, Tenkai, as they had made him mad by being lazy and not working hard after they married. It is said that if weather was good, a flock of magpie would come and make a bridge with their wings over the milky way so that the two could reunite each other. But if rained, it means Orihime is weeping too hard, the magpie cannot come thus the two could not cross the milky way and would have to wait until the next year. So, after all, it is all about the weather and crops, and nothing about bamboos or eel-don. Yet, people in Japan still celebrate this day the way they carried from ancestors while looking for the beautiful milky way in the night sky.
So, luckily the weather today was perfect for the water-yoyo fishing games outside on a porch. Inside the community room, we set up tables for people to write their wishes and hang Tanzaku-paper on a bamboo tree. However, regretfully there was so little participants today. We suspected it was due to the July 4th holiday and many people may still be on vacation. Or, after many brutally hot days, people could be enjoying outdoor activities.
So, we volunteers took advantage and enjoyed our relaxed chit-chat in Yukata, summer Kimono, with Geta-sandal, just like people must be doing in a summer day in Japan.