Jul 6, 2018
Tanabata is commonly called the star festival in English. It is celebrated on either July 7th or August 7th depending on where in Japan you are. In my area July 7th is the main date for public facilities and retail stores, but a lot of the shrines celebrate it on the later date of August 7th.
Children (and adults) write their wishes, usually something they want to become not something they want to receive, on colored strips of paper that are then added to makeshift tree made from bamboo branches. Often there are other decorations on the tree such as paper lanterns and origami shapes.
Wishes of school aged children usually involve writing what they would like to become in the future. If I were a betting woman I would bet that the majority of wishes on my son's 3rd grade class tree say "Youtuber" or "Game Creator"! For older children and adults they might write about something they hope to accomplish. This year my 2nd grade daughter wrote on one wish that she is aiming to win her upcoming karate championship.
Right now in this part of Saitama there are Tanabata, or Star Festival, bamboo branches here, there and everywhere. Despite writing their wishes in school or preschool my kids do not tire of writing their wishes at every location we go to with a Tanabata tree. And that is just about everywhere! It humors me greatly that my youngest two daughters, both of preschool age, write something different every time.
My kids have wishes hanging from about every Tanabata tree in town and even beyond. It becomes a force of habit when you see a tree in a supermarket or a library or at the community center to walk over and pick up one of the colored pieces of papers and markers that are left out and write your wish to hang on the bamboo tree. This is the first year I haven't written one, despite passing at least a dozen bamboo trees in the past two weeks, but I still have time yet. Did you make a wish on a star festival tree this year?
Level 8 LocalGuide with Google. Blogging about life in Japan as an Irish WAHM to 4 kids on insaitama.com.