July 6, 2010

Tanabata! :::July 7th:::

Every year, on July 7th there's a Japanese Star Festival that they celebrate called "Tanabata" which literally means "Evening of the seventh."

In this tradition, many people write their wishes on small strips of paper called "tanzaku papers" and hang them on bamboo branches. Some people decorate the bamboo and place them outside their houses.

Popular decorations are the streamers which you can see here:

There's a traditional story that goes with this festival. I'll shorten it the best I can:

There was a weaver princess named Orihime and a cow herder prince named Hikoboshi. They were always playing together and forgot their jobs so the King got angry and separated them by the Amanogawa River (Milky Way). The king allowed them only to meet on the seventh day of the seventh month in the lunar calendar. So now Orihime and Hikoboshi are believed to have become stars. And since they can only see each other on July 7th and on a non-rainy day, everyone prays for good weather and also makes wishes for themselves.

A traditional song they sing in Tanabata: (lyrics below)


Verse 1:

Sasa no ha sara-sara
The bamboo leaves rustle, rustle

Nokiba ni yureru
Swaying back and forth

Ohoshi-sama kira-kira
The stars twinkle, twinkle

Kingin sunago
Gold and silver sand (decorations)

Verse 2:

Gochiki no tanzaku
On five colors of little paper

Watashiga kaita
I wrote

Ohoshi-sama kira-kira
The stars twinkle, twinkle

Sora kara miteru
From the sky they are watching us

*Note: These lyric translations are almost exactly accurate because they came straight from my Japanese step-mom! :) Also note that some translations are not perfectly literal or they wouldn't make much sense =P.

So if you get a chance, learn this song and sing it tomorrow on Tanabata! :)

That's all for today,
Ja~ne! :)


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