Sunday, July 26, 2009

Tanabata Festibal

No I didn't misspell Festival. That's how the signs around Misawa spelled it in Engrish.
What is a Tanabata? It is a celebration they have every July. Here is my quick synopsis (i.e. Wikipedia version):
Tanabata (七夕 tanabata, meaning "Evening of the seventh") is a Japanese star festival.

Tanabata was inspired by the famous Chinese folklore, The Princess and the Cowherd.

Orihime (織姫 Weaving Princess), daughter of the Tentei (天帝 Sky King, or the universe itself), wove beautiful clothes by the bank of the Amanogawa (天の川 Milky Way, lit. "heavenly river"). Her father loved the cloth that she wove and so she worked very hard every day to weave it. However, Orihime was sad that because of her hard work she could never meet and fall in love with anyone. Concerned about his daughter, Tentei arranged for her to meet Hikoboshi (彦星 Cow Herder Star) who lived and worked on the other side of the Amanogawa. When the two met, they fell instantly in love with each other and married shortly thereafter. However, once married, Orihime no longer would weave cloth for Tentei and Hikoboshi allowed his cows to stray all over Heaven. In anger, Tentei separated the two lovers across the Amanogawa and forbade them to meet. Orihime became despondent at the loss of her husband and asked her father to let them meet again. Tentei was moved by his daughter’s tears and allowed the two to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month if Orihime worked hard and finished her weaving. The first time they tried to meet, however, they found that they could not cross the river because there was no bridge. Orihime cried so much that a flock of magpies came and promised to make a bridge with their wings so that she could cross the river. It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the magpies cannot come and the two lovers must wait until another year to meet.

So there you have it, (I'm not sure why it isn't celebrated on the 7th). Although we do have a lot of crows around here, I didn't see any magpies. It did rain a bit so I guess these lovers will have to wait again until next year. It didn't stop us from having a good time though, besides my lover came back from across the Pacific this week. She may have used up all the magpies on her bumpy flight. Sorry Hikobaski, better luck next year!

This festival, like most Japanese festivals, is composed of cool decorations and lots of booths hawking different and food kitsch. In fact 5 minutes into our walk,while watching Sam on the "bumpy cars," Em asked, "Where's Max?" We turn around and he is walking back towards us with the biggest snow cone known to man. "IT was only 300 Yen!" (That's about $3.50, not too bad but definitely not a bargain.)
We had a pretty good time and even went back at night to see the cool lanterns they hang up, through which the boys loved walking/running. They also had different performances: singers, baton twirlers, hip hop dancers, orchestra, etc. Stay tuned for reports from the upcoming Nebuta festival in Aomori. Its supposed to be much grander!


Amber Lynae said...

I liked the folklore. and Festibal...LOL. That is so fun. I'm glad Em made it back safe.

Foot Handle Pete said...

Looks like a lot of fun. Very cool to get to have those experiences, especially for the kids. Great pics too.