Wednesday, August 8, 2012

祝七夕まつり (Tanabata)

 Tanabata Festival in Japan has the same origins and story behind it as the Valentine's Day of Chinese Culture.  It's the story of a cowherder who falls in love with a weaving goddess and can only be reunited one night a year when their stars are closest to each other and the birds gather to form a bridge between them.

It's one of my favorite Chinese holidays so I was delighted to find it in Japanese custom as well, although it looks very different.  For one, there are these beautiful decorations that are hung throughout the walking mall of the city in Sendai.  There are streamers that are made and provided by local schools and businesses(which I apparently took a LOT of pictures of)  There are paper kimonos and paper cranes and paper purses everywhere.  (The symbolism of these are wishes for good sewing, family safety and good business respectively)  Then there are wishes that are written on strips of paper and tied to the bamboo with the other decorations.  It's all very colorful and festive.

To make it even better, lots of people dress up in colorful yukatas.  There were a lot of families out so I spent a lot of time looking at decorations and people watching.  The atmosphere is not frenzied or hurried as people leisurely move along and sometimes buy the street food or the little baubles on sale for their children.

For some reason, out of luck or whatever, I managed to spend all three nights of the Tanabata actually on the walking mall.  And yet, I also somehow missed the fireworks display on the eve of the festival because I was coming back from Tokyo.

To celebrate Tanabata myself, I wrote a wish on a piece of paper and tied it to my laundry pole.  I guess these wishes are taken down the day after the festival and set afloat on the river or burned.  So tonight, I will have to go throw that wish into the Hirose River.  :)
Walking with people from my lab. 

The streamers are chains of paper cranes made by various elementary and middle schools in the area.


The characters above the streamers say Beijing.  These streamers are from a Chinese business.  

The puppet show enthralled everyone but since I couldn't understand a word, it just made me chuckle.     

A lot of the streamers were dedicated to the Olympics so I tried to find some Olympian I've been watching lately to take a picture.  I had to laugh though when when I saw this.  Someone really has a thing for Yoochun.  

I thought this streamer particularly beautiful

In an Olympic mood, I took the picture of the soccer ball

This girl wished for something about passing high school

These boys made me laugh.  They would yell out, "Please do not walk this way!"  as some of the others were taking down the bamboo poles.  The yelling was somewhat jarring in the midst of the rest of the festival but these boys were so earnest and determined to do their jobs right.  I understood how they felt - the joy and importance of being a part of something.  

Post Festival Ramen at the ramen shop near my house.  It was very good and I even got to watch Japanese soccer highlights while I ate.  

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