A couple of years ago when my little one brought home some blank strips of paper I was perplexed. He was not really able to articulate what I was supposed to do with them and I was clueless. Although I was interested in Japan and had studied Japanese before moving to Japan, it is impossible to know or even remember every festival and holiday. Today is Tanabata.
Now I know what to do with those little strips of paper. Tanabata is the star festival and is celebrated on July 7th as well as August 7th in some regions.The origins go back to China and the legend says that two stars/lovers were separated and can meet once a year during the 7th month on the 7th day.
Children and Adults write their wishes on strips of colored paper and hang them on bamboo branches.
Walking around town you can see huge trees of wishes hanging in shops and schools. When you see these “wish trees” all over town, you know that summer has begun. It is also a hopeful sign for students that summer vacation will soon start.
We don’t celebrate many of the festivals and holidays here in Japan. I feel super guilty about that, but the culture shock is never ending. I am finally starting to feel like I live here, but it is a long road yet.
The children help me along a lot because they are growing up here and it’s all they know. I feel so happy when I see the children enjoying everything. Their first hand experiences are mine as well.
This year my son asked me to write a wish on the paper that I am not quite sure what it means. We are at that stage now when he has become my translator and I have become his. It is quite funny. There are so many things that we don’t talk about in our everyday, that you never know what vocabulary is going to pop up and leave us a bit confused.
I hope you all had a good holiday where you are. Thank you for all of your support!