Tanabata, or Star Festival is cereblated on July, 7th. Bamboo grass is placed at entrances. People decorate the bamboo with paper ornaments and put some strips of paper with wishes. This annual event is said to have been mixed with a Chinese traditonal habit calld "Kikoden(乞巧奠)" and a Japanese myth of "Tanabatatsume(棚機つ女)". The most prevailing story is as follows.
The emperor of heaven had a daugther whose name was Shokujo. She lived west of the Milky Way and weaved wonderful cloth. She worked so hard that the emperor was worried about her and decided to find her a good partner. He found a good young cowheard working in the East of the Milky Way. His name was Kengyu. Shokujo and Kengyu got married. But after they god married, they stopped working. They had been hard workers but they didn't work and chatterd by the Milky Way day by day. The emperor got angry and separated them.
It is said that the Altair is Kengyu and the Vega is Shokujo. There is the Milky Way between them. Two lovers are allowed to see each other once a year, on July 7th. Magpies are said to make a bridge for them.
Shokujo is also called Orihime, a weaver princess, and Kengyu is called Hikoboshi, a male star.
The above photo is a papercraft I made. I found sheets of papercraft for Star Festival at a nearby supermarket the other day. I took one and made it up. There were wish papers to write wishes on. I wrote my wish and attached it on the craft.
As regards Star Festival in Hakodate, Halloween like practice is held on this day. This practice is held only limited areas, such as Hakodate or Sapporo in Hokkaido. In the evening of the festival, children visit neighbors and ask to give them a candle and sweets or crackers singing a song. This habit seems to reflect the changing society and it makes me feel a little sad.
When I was a child, I prepared two bags. One for candles and the other for sweets. But recently it's rare to be given candles. I suppose it shows the fact that less families keep their family alters at homes. And less families prepare sweets or crackers for children. On the first evening of Star Festival after my marriage, I was expecting children's visit and had prepaired some sweets to give them. But nobody came. Later I knew that schools taught them not to visit homes without bamboo grass ornaments. Children used to sing a song in front of all the houses they could visit, regardless of holding festival ornaments at their entrances. Recently younger children visit only familiar houses accompanied by their parents, I think. I feel the union of each district is disappearing.
A good thing is that the schools instruct their children to participate in the event waring yukatas and holding lanterns. In the evening of the Star Festival, it's enjoyable and tasteful to see singing children in colorful yukatas.
Akiko lives in a city next to Hakodate and loves to drive around Hakodate and surrounding area. I hope people who visit or live in the Southwest area of Hokkaido come to love the area, too. 函館の隣町在住で道南エリアのドライブ大好きAkikoです。道南を訪れたり、住んでいる人が土地を好きになってくれたらなぁ、と思います。