My daughter made this in Japanese summer school earlier today. These are the two characters from the famous story (which has origins in China) behind the Tanabata festival in Japan.1 On the left is Orihime the princess, and on the right is the cowherd Hikoboshi. As the story goes, they lived in the heavens and fell in love, but Orihime’s father wouldn’t permit it, and separated them across the River of the Heavens (the Milky Way). But they get to meet one night a year, on the 7th day of the 7th month (July 7 in the solar calendar), crossing a bridge made by magpie birds joining their wings together.
Another tradition is to write a small wish on a piece of paper and hang it on a special tree. These little wishes are called tanzaku (短冊). My daughter wrote a wish on her tanzaku and said that she wished she could stay at that school forever. It was really heartbreaking because she’s graduated from that school and after summer-school she will be too old to go.
However, I am excited to see the stars on Tanabata night with my daughter using our new iPhone app SkyView.
Happy Tanabata everyone!
1 The festival is also observed in China (Qīxī 七夕) and Korea (Chilseok 칠석), though using the lunar calendar (7th day of the 7th month) which falls on August 24th this year, I think. Across all three countries, the story remains the same. Tanabata is one of the five “seasonal” holidays in Japan or sekku (節句) in Japan, which all fall on dates like 3/3, 5/5, 7/7 and so on.