This weekend was the annual Tanabata (七夕) Festival here in Japan. The Tanabata Masturi is also called the ‘Star Festival’, and comes from Qixi Festival in China. I was told by one of my teaching assistants that it’s an old festival about two star-crossed lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who are only able to be together on the seventh day of the seventh month. Everyone prays for clear skies so that they might be able to see each other again across the Milky Way.
Here, people write wishes and prayers on pieces of paper and string them up on trees. If Orihime and Hikoboshi are able to meet, their wishes come true. Most of my students’ wishes were about wanting to grow up and be soccer players or badminton players or comedians, or else wanting a particular toy or other, but there was something really lovely to sitting there helping them write out these things in English on bright orange, pink and blue scraps of paper.
On Sunday, we went out to the festival along Kappabashi-dori, between Ueno Station and Asakusa Station. I have never seen a festival as colourful as this one. It was so, so beautiful.