07.07

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On the 7th day of the 7th month (or thereabouts, lunar calenders and all) is the Tanabata ‘七夕’ festival in Japan. The day is usually celebrated with people writing wishes on paper and then hanging them from bamboo. In the Edo period, girls often wished for better sewing and craftsmanship; MCM and I are going to the fabric store today, perfect!

Hello Sandwich describes the origin story thus:

Tanabata originated more than 2,000 years ago with an old Chinese tale called Kikkoden. Once there was a weaver princess named Orihime and a cow herder prince named Hikoboshi living in space. After they got together, they were playing all the time and forgot about their jobs. The king was angry at them and separated them on opposite sides of the Amanogawa River (Milky Way). The king allowed them to meet only once a year on July 7th. This is why tanabata is also known as the star festival. It’s believed that Orihime and Hikoboshi can’t see each other if July 7th is rainy, so people pray for good weather and also make wishes for themselves.

Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture) and Hiratsuka (Kanagawa Prefecture) are particularly famous for their elaborate Tanabata displays. Shopping arcades in these two cities feature huge decorations that are sponsored by local shops, which try to outdo one another in the size of their displays.

I love the part where they were too busy playing to do their jobs. Here’s to playing hooky every once in a while. Happy Tanabata!

All photographs via Hello Sandwich.

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