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Tanabata-sai 七夕祭 The Summer Festival in Japan

tanabatamaturi takekazari

Tanabata-sai (七夕 祭) is one of the Gosekku one of the 5 most important Japanese holidays that is celebrated on July 7th which is linked to the homonymous legend that celebrates the reunification of the gods Orihime and Hikoboshi respectively representatives of the stars Vega and Arutairu. 

From Chinese origin it was imported into Japan by Koken-Tennō the only daughter of Shōmu-Tennō during the Heian-jidai (794-1185) but it became very popular during the Edo-jidai (1603-1868) when it merged with Obon giving rise to the Tanabata modern.

Legend tell that Orihime daughter of Tentei (Emperor of Amanogawa) devoted all her time to weaving clothes, then donating them to her father and other celestial deities, but as the years passed the young girl felt the lack of contact with others and the possibility of falling in love with someone. So Tentei made the decision to introduce his daughter to the young Hikoboshi who committed his days to pasture the oxen in the sky, once the mutual knowledge was made the two young people fall in love with each other and spent all the time together neglecting their duties, the divinities no longer received the precious fabrics and the oxen wandered freely.

At that point, given the situation, Tentei separated the two lovers by placing them on the opposite banks of the Amanogawa, but that decision broke the hearts of the two young men who could not help but think of each other and were unable to work with serenity. So it was that Tentei, consulting the other deities, decided to allow the Princess and Hikoboshi to meet once a year, but on condition that during that time each of them carried out their respective tasks.

From that moment on, every seventh day of the seventh month a flock of celestial birds carried Orihime to the beloved, but in the event that the couple in the period of separation had not committed the divinities sent the rain to prevent the girl's journey. It is said that if it rains on the Tanabata, the magpies cannot come because of the rising of the river and the two lovers have to wait another year to meet.


Tanabata sai



The rain on this day is called: 「Orihime to Hikoboshi no namida diverse There are several versions of the Tanabata legend many are related to astronomy, the lunar calendar and the ancient origins and traditions of Asian populations. Among the main decorations that decorate the streets there are the tanzaku (strips of colored paper) which symbolize the silk threads woven by Orihime, on them are written in the form of poetry and / or prayers the wishes to be addressed to the stars (protagonists of the party) and subsequently linked in most cases to take branches (竹》 bamboo).

Thanks to our friend and collaborator Paolo Napolitano for leaving us this article on one of the most important parties and legends in Japan.



Traditions, Tanabata-sai, Mauro Piacentini

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