July 14, 2005

Tanabata Summer Festival

Last weekend, I went to the Tanabata summer festival with my Japanese girlfriends at Maebashi. A little information on the Tanabata festival:

Tanabata (七夕) is the Japanese name for the originally Chinese star festival. Held on July 7 the festival celebrates the meeting of Orihime and Hikoboshi. The Milky Way, a river made from stars that crosses the sky, separated these two lovers, and they were allowed to meet only once a year. This special day is the 7th of July.

People in Japan celebrate this day by wearing yukata and decorating bamboo leaves. They write their wishes on tanzaku (small pieces of paper) and hang them on the leaves. It is said that the Orihime and Hikoboshi would make their dreams come true. Having been decorated, around midnight or on the next day, the bamboo tree is thrown into a river or burned.

And that was exactly what we did. We wore yukata to the festival. It was my first time in a yukata, and it took quite a long time to put it on (my friend helped me with it). It sure wasn't easy to breathe in that thing either! I have to take really small steps when walking, just like the Japanese :)

It was really crowded at the festival. There were a lot of hawkers selling their wares - food, toys, etc. A lot of ladies were in yukata, and men in jimbe. Wrote a wish on the tanzaku, and hung them on the bamboo leaves (I wrote mine in English, of course). The only damper of the event? It rained all day. But that did not stop us from having fun.

It certainly was an unforgettable experience.

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