One wonderful festival that takes place in Japan in July is the Star Festival, also known as Tanabata. Tanabata means “evening of the seventh”… the Star Festival takes place at night on July 7th every year. Tanabata is originally based on a Chinese legend.
Tanabata celebrates the meeting of a husband and wife. They are Orihime (the star Vega) and Hikoboshi (the star Altair)… to meet they must cross the river Amanogawa (the Milky Way). They can only meet once a year on this night… it’s the one time they can cross the river. The story is that a flock of magpies help Orihime cross the river on this day only. If it’s a cloudy night, that means the river was too high and Orihame and Hikoboshi couldn’t meet. So in Japan everyone wishes for a clear night full of stars on July 7th.
Ayako Egawa in Japan wrote to me about one fun tradition on this day: “Children write their wishes on strips of fancy paper and put them on displays made of the branches of bamboo trees.”
Ayako sent me this photo below with the note, “This is the decoration at Star festival (Tanabata) on July 7th.”
Here’s a traditional Tanabata Song that’s sung for the festival. First you’ll find a Japanese transliteration, then the Japanese text, an English translation by me, followed by a YouTube video of a little girl singing it…
Sasa no ha sara-sara
In Japanese Romaji:
Sasa no ha sara-sara
Nokiba ni yureru
In Japanese Text:
Bamboo leaves are rustling, rustling,
Swaying close to the roof’s edge,
Oh, how the stars are twinkling, twinkling,
Gold and silver grains of sand.
If you’d like to share any photos, songs or memories of this festival, feel free to in the comments below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Many thanks to Ayako Egawa for letting us know about this festival and for sharing the wonderful photo!
This artilce was posted on Thursday, July 30th, 2009 at 7:15 pm and is filed under Children's Songs, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Holiday Songs, Holidays Around the World, Japan, Japanese, Japanese Kids Songs, Languages, Mama Lisa, Sasa no ha sara-sara, Star Festival, Star Festival Songs, Tanabata, YouTube. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.