Sunday, July 09, 2006

また七夕: Tanabata Revisited

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Growing up in a Geisha house makes you tough! Ryu and big bro Kaito beneath the branches of their Tanabata tree. Warning! Due to inherent laziness, this post you are about to read may be recycled from a previous post concerning the same topic. Reader discretion is advised.

Tanabata, Japan's version of the Chinese festival Pinyin, or “The Night of Sevens" (because it falls on the 7th day of the 7th month), celebrates the love between the stellar shepherd boy, Hikoboshi (Vega), and the Weaver Princess, Orihime (Altair). Although the shepherd boy was of lowly birth, the princess’ father, the Emperor of Heaven, worried that Orihime worked so hard weaving cloth for the gods that she had time to do little else, allowed them to be married. They were so in love, however, that they neglected their work and spent all of their time together.

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Ryu, holding his hand-made tanabata ornament.

Without the princess to weave their heavenly cloth, the once oshare, stylin' gods were forced to sport the same threads again and again, causing them to loose face and fall in their social standing (not to mention the public opinion polls). Without a herder to care for them, the flocks were scattered and scared. The infuriated emperor forced the love-struck couple to split, relocating them on opposite banks of the River of Heaven (the Milky Way). Watching each other from afar, they tried desperately to focus on their work, but their depression overcame them. At last the emperor took pity on them, and promised to let them meet once a year if they worked as hard as they could. At the chance of being together again, they began to work as hard as before. Ganbaruzo!

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Ryu, Moe and I beneath the tree. Moe has been taking Nihon Buyou, or traditional Japanese dancing lessons, since she was 3. All the girls ( 6 Geisha) in dance.

True to the emperor's word, every year on the 7th night of the 7th month, a magical bridge of magpies forms over the heavenly river, allowing the young lovers meet. It is said that if it rains, the heavenly river overflows, and the young lovers must wait another year for their chance to meet again.

Unfortunately for them, Tanbata falls right in middle of Tsuyu, Japan's rainy season.

On Tanabata Eve I went to the Kamiya house (which just happens to be a modern Okiya, or Geisha house, albeit in good old inaka Ena) for our weekly English playtime. In front of the house, proped up on the porch, was a fresh, green bamboo tree, decorated in a rainbow of intricately folded origami and long, colorful strips of paper wishes. Traditionally people wrote their wishes for the star crossed lovers to be reunited, but nowadays people write their own wishes and hang them on the bamboo tree in hopes that they will be granted. If the rain holds off and the lovers can meet, they believe their wish will come true, but if it rains, they, too, must wait till next year.

Are you wondering if it rained? It's TSUYU! Of course it rained! No wish for you!


john said...

What is the model number of your camera? Before you mentioned that you used a Sony Cybershot. Just curious. Thanks. Love your pictures!

Melissa said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Melissa said...

(^-^)/ Sony DSC-P150... I`ve had it a couple years, so I`m sure you can do better! But I highly recommend Sony products. That camera is a tough little bugger!

Atropos said...

This was an awesome read and very informative! I love how colorful and personal it is!

Lindizzy said...

awww, they are super cute!! Hmmm, tsuyu. I sorta miss all that rain...and how clean Japan is! NYC is so dirty. And smelly. Remind me again why I moved here?!