Japan at its best
Thursday April 17th 2014

Meaning of Tanabata Matsuri

July the 7th is round the corner which means that Tanabata is upon us. This festival is one that celebrates Princess Shokujo and the shepherd boy Kinju becoming stars in heaven. Princess Shokujo was working on a project weaving cloth for her father. It was to make a coat. However during this time she fell hopelessly in love with Kinju. There decided to get married. Bliss. But unfortunately, caught in a fog of romance, Shokujo forgot about the project she was asked to manage – and her father was so cross.

The king decided that the marriage was off and they were sent to live at opposite ends of the Milky Way. However, one day a year they were allowed to meet each other.

Tanabata means ‘weaving loom’ and in Japan during Tanabata the streets are decorated with lovely banners which represent the stars of the Milky Way. Bamboo branches decorated with paper dolls and prayer strips are placed in the front of houses and when the holiday ends the decorations are floated away on the river.

We are about to embark on a Tanabata project of our own – we are going to make tissue paper balls and hang them from our tree outside with wishes written on them.

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